Read Pompeii: City on Fire Online

Authors: T. L. Higley

Pompeii: City on Fire


T. L. Higley's
ignites with riveting action and compelling characters. No one unleashes the secrets of history with a masterful hand the way T. L. Higley does! Authentic and powerful, Pompeii is a fiery tale of a city lost to the power of Vesuvius. I simply could not read fast enough!

—Ronie Kendig, author of

T. L. Higley takes the wonder of what happened in Pompeii, and turns it into a compelling read that illustrates the utter depravity of Rome at that time while highlighting the way God always has a remnant shining His light. From the struggles of a female gladiator to the intrigue of local politics, the book is a page-turner that brings a compelling time and setting to life. Take a journey to the heart of a mountain and city on fire, and you might just find the Creator of fire in the process.

—Cara Putman, author of
Stars in the Night

is a richly detailed story of powerful redemption and raw courage. T. L. Higley takes readers right to the foot of the legendary volcano, Vesuvius, and spins her tale under the shadow of certain disaster.

—Ginger Garrett, author of
Wolves Among Us

I love T. L. Higley's stories set in the ancient world.
has a mystique all its own, and Higley brings it to rich life, from glory to destruction, while bringing her well-drawn characters through disaster to salvation.

—DeAnna Julie Dodson, author of
In Honor Bound

T. L. Higley brings
to life again in this exhilarating take of love and adventure. The story was so enthralling to me—I want to read it again!

—Elizabeth Goddard, author of
The Camera Never Lies

Tracy Higley's Seven Wonders series is a real treasure. Her stories shimmer with authentic detail and characters so vivid the reader wonders about them long after the last page is turned. Don't miss this one!

—Janelle Schneider, author

Copyright © 2011 by Higley Enterprises, Ltd.

All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America


Published by B&H Publishing Group,

Nashville, Tennessee

Dewey Decimal Classification: F


Publisher's Note: This novel is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents are either products of the author's imagination or used fictitiously. All characters are fictional, and any similarity to people living or dead is purely coincidental.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 • 15 14 13 12 11

To Mike and Pam Dittman


Pat and Nadine Pileggi

. . . who first taught me that girls could be warriors, too.

You have always encouraged me to find my adventure

and pursue it with passion.

For this I am grateful.



Word List


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-One

Chapter Forty-Two

Chapter Forty-Three

Chapter Forty-Four

Chapter Forty-Five

Chapter Forty-Six

Chapter Forty-Seven

Chapter Forty-Eight

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-One

Chapter Fifty-Two

Chapter Fifty-Three

Chapter Fifty-Four

Author's Note


Pompeii has long held fascination for me—a lost city, frozen in time and then thawed, exactly as it was on the day the mountain spewed its fire and swallowed it whole.

Unearthing any story is, at times, a bit like digging in hardened ash, uncertain what one will find. I am grateful for the help and encouragement of all who worked alongside me to bring this project to light.

Thank you to the B&H team, who are tireless in their efforts to produce quality fiction: Karen Ball, editor/genius; Julie Gwinn, marketing magician, and all the rest who are such wonderful support and who create canvases for the creativity of their authors.

Thank you to my agent, Steve Laube. You've been a cheerleader for my writing since we began, and your support and guidance are so appreciated.

A special thanks to Mitch Triestman (otherwise known as Uncle Mitch!) for your valuable help in understanding the Jewish mind-set of the first century, and the present. Your excellent book,
To the Jew First,
gave great insight into Ariella's character.

A huge thank you to my daughter Rachel for being my travel partner on this book's research trip. We will have stories to tell of Venice, Rome, and Naples forever, won't we?! It was such fun spending that time with you, I would do it all again in a heartbeat!

As always, the rest of my precious family has sacrificed and supported, encouraged and endured through the writing of yet another book. Ron, Rachel, Sarah, Jake, and Noah—I could do none of this without all of you, and all you do for me. I love you very much.

". . . a peak of Hell, rising out of paradise."

—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, on Vesuvius


—city official, mainly responsible for public buildings and festivals

—gold coin valued at 25 silver denarii

—hot room of the bath complex, with a hot plunge bath

—temple of the gods, with great arches on either side

—one of two joint city magistrates, mainly responsible for administration of justice

—building in Pompeii named for priestess of Venus, used by the fullers

—politician sponsoring public games, to curry public favor

—cold room of the bath complex, with a cold plunge bath

—unit of distance equal to approximately 2.5 feet

—literally, "the name," the Jewish word used for God

—sunken part of an atrium to catch the rainwater coming through the open roof

—tenement-type apartment buildings in ancient Roman cities

—the month of June

—trainer of gladiators

—brothel, named for the "lupe" = the she-wolf, whose call the women mimicked

—main market of the city

—gladiator with high crested and broad rimmed helmet that resembled a fish

ordo/ordo decurionum
—city council

—the city's main field for athletic training and fitness

—poles buried in the ground used for gladiator training

pater familias
—literally "father of the family," head of the household

—first name, given by parents, to a Roman child

—short sword

—four-sided courtyard surrounded by columned walkways

—city official, mainly responsible for financial matters

—gladiator who used a casting net and trident as weapons

—wooden training sword, also used as a token given to a freed gladiator

scaenae frons
—two-story façade behind the stage

—gladiator who fought heavily armed, including a helmet

—brass coin

—woman's garment, comparable to the man's toga

—platform where orators could make their appeals

—single room shop in market, with wide doorway and barrel vaulted ceiling

—room on one side of the atrium, used as an office

—warm room of the bath complex

—ancient Rome's "fast food restaurant"—masonry counters with sunken jars holding food

—main dining area of a home

—festival dedicated to Vulcan, god of fire

From her lofty place above the sparkling crescent Bay of Napoli, Vesuvius looked down upon the surrounding towns and felt the pressure build beneath her grassy slopes.

It was true, the hot springs which bubbled up from deep within brought pleasure-seekers from the north to bathe in secluded groves, and she boasted lemon trees and long waving grasses where wildlife grazed her foothills. True, her purple, cloud-kissed peak shone always in the sunlight.

But under it all, where the eyes of no patrician nor plebeian saw, underneath she churned with an angry force waiting to be unleashed.

She was their mother, yes. But she could destroy them all.

And she had been quiet these many years, had she not? Too many years for counting, even. She had been controlled, subdued, silent as generation after generation lived and farmed and reveled in her long shadows.

But not for long. No, not for long.

Though the people who lived beneath her believed that they controlled their own destiny, she knew otherwise.

This was her story, after all.


Jerusalem August 9, AD 70

Ariella shoved through the clogged street, defying the mob of frantic citizens. Men, women, and children crowded the alleys, senseless in their panic to flee the city. They carried all they could, packed into pouches slung across their chests and clutched in sweaty hands. Soldiers ran with them, as though they had all joined a macabre stadium footrace, with participants who clubbed and slashed at each other to get ahead. Beside her, one of the district's tax collectors tripped and fumbled a latched wooden box. It cracked against the cobbled street and spilled its meager hoard of gold. The tax collector was dead before he hit the ground, and the Roman soldier pulled his sword from the man's gut only to scramble for the coins.

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