At over 400 pages involving 50 Chapters "Joseph of Arimathea" by Brian Mellor was for me way too long and far too drawn out, which is a pity, because it is a really good story. By the time I reached chapter 10 I was impatient for the real story to begin and I began speed reading until I got to about chapter 20.
If I am going to review a book, I feel it only right to read it all and in doing so I make notes. Those notes provide me with specific reference points for comments that might be made in my review. In my notes on chapter 19 of this book, I wrote: "The story is too long -- too dragged out..." and at chapter 26 I wrote:
"The pace picks up leading up to the crucifixion -- the writing is good -- the description good -- it is all moving along nicely... all too late... people will become bored before this..."
Another criticism I have is that the author spent too much time sermonizing, by which I mean that the long drawn out monologues were obviously the author speaking and not the character. The author may speak through the character but in this case I felt that the character was merely a very thin mask for the author.
At chapters 4,7,9, 10 and 18 my notes read: 'Sermonizing." At chapters 7 and 10 I actually wrote 'filler,' meaning that I wondered why it took the author a whole chapter to make the points made.
As I have stated however, the storyline is actually good. It is inventive and more importantly, plausible. The author's storytelling comes to the fore from the time of Jesus arrest to the time of his 'resurrection' and for a little time afterward.
There is some humor included in the storyline, such as that involved in the discussion of the small problem suffered by Joseph of 'Jesus Mary and Joseph' fame, the irony involved in the resurrection of Lazarus and of course Jesus' trip in Egypt.
The author's knowledge and understanding of the ancient world, its politics, religions and cultures is both obvious and extensive and I am not ashamed to state that I recorded a list of words/topics contained in the book which I later researched. How many of us know that 'Allah,' the Islamic name of God, actually precedes Islam by hundreds of years, as does also the name 'Saracen?' Who knew that Glastonbury in England held such a prominent place in early Christian mythology.
While the author's biographical detail makes no mention of it, it seems obvious that he is a scholar. His is an interesting and plausible tale, even if it is from the perspective of a "true" believer, a blasphemous one. The book however could have been written in only 30 chapters and literary devices could have been used to make the sermonizing less obvious.
'Josephus of Arimathea' is a self-published book via Trafford Publishing at www.trafford.com and I personally feel that the author would have benefitted by opting for their "Advanced Editorial" service. It seems obvious by some of the spelling and paragraph spacing errors in the latter part of my PDF version of the book, that this service was not purchased.*
10/10 for the storyline, 8/10 for (general) writing, but 5/10 for overall effect. Sorry about that!
Would I recommend this book to others? You bet! If you have the time and inclination to read an interesting historical fiction then by all means buy this book, although cost wise I think that the nook book price is most appropriate.
* Trafford publishing normal editorial services are limited by the service you buy and the word length of the book.
"Joseph of Arimathea"
by Brian Mellor
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Publication date: 8/22/2012