From the blood-soaked sand of the Roman arena, a divine destiny will rise.
For as long as Jonathan Tarquinius can remember, everyone has wanted something from him. His half-brother wants him dead. His master's wife wants his innocence. The gladiator dealers want him to fight - and die - for their greed. Rome's most famous prostitute wants his love. And the gentle slave girl who tends the wounds on his body and the hidden ones on his soul, longs for him to return to his faith.
What Jonathan wants is simple. Freedom. But God wants something from Jonathan too - something more than anyone would ever imagine. The young warrior's journey will push him to the limits of human endurance and teach him that true freedom is found within.
The greatest battle Jonathan must ever fight will not come in the arena, but deep within himself as he is forced to choose between vengeance and mercy - with the fate of an empire and the life of the woman he loves hanging in the balance.
©2014 Nancy J. Diekmann (P)2014 Nancy J. Diekmann
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"A great story with a spectacular reader"
This book isn't quite what I normally look for in an audiobook (I generally do intense SciFi/ Fantasy), but ended up being one I loved. I quickly found myself drawn into the story, and it was enjoyable and satisfying, without being overly predictable. I hesitate to say more about the plot - the author's description says enough, and trying to say more would quickly stray into spoilers.
For me, there are two things that make this a great book:
1. Its great story with a quality balance in writing.
2. Its amazing voice acting.
For the former, there are a lot of difficult balances which need to be found for this topic:
- Realistic in the brutality of gladiatorial combat, without being gratuitously violent.
- Honest about interpersonal and romantic engagements, without unnecessary explicit sexual content.
- A coherent plot with allusion that rewards the listener for paying attention, without being overly predictable.
- Detail sufficient to bring the listener into the atmosphere of the events, without it causing the plot to drag.
As a listener to books across the spectrum, I have found too often that religious literature sacrifices realism to avoid violence and sexuality, but this author finds a perfectly appropriate balance. To the other extreme, many secular writers overemphasize these. The ability to give realism without excess is a rare and noteworthy exception for religious fiction. Furthermore, many use such strong allusion to religious themes that the entire story arc can be guessed by page 3, yet this author allows for strong religious themes, without allowing them to make the book too predictable.
About the voice acting, I actually found this the strongest point. As an avid audible listener I have listened to countless voice actors. I find Ramon de Ocampo to have the best ability to voice a cast of diverse characters. This narrator, Joseph Narducci, is the only narrator I have heard who can compare with Ocampo in quality of narration. If you love a book read from a single voice, this may not be for you, but if you enjoy the specific voices in helping bring a book to life there are very few who can do it better.
Overall, I found this to be a good story presented with phenomenal narration, and thus I highly recommend it (without reservation) as a great audible listen.
"Joseph is to Lion as Jim Dale is to Harry Potter"
Gladiator Love Story
There are so many. I'm not a fan of spoilers, so I'll go with an early one. The scene with Jonathan and the lion (how the book got the title "Chasing the Lion") is pretty epic.
Not only did Joseph Narducci nail Jonathan's voice, he aged him. Also, every other character is distinct and well-executed. There's extreme talent for one person to make Caius sound sinister and Nessa sweet.
I'm a fan of short titles (one word, if possible) "Devotio" - In Roman history, it's the act of a general sacrificing himself for victory. While the origins are tied to Roman mythology, it's the origin of the English word "devotion". There are aspects to Jonathan's character and story that make this a fitting title.
I am a huge audio book fan. Jim Dale, the narrator of Harry Potter and The Night Circus among others is who I consider to be the gold-standard for audio book fans. Voice talent makes or breaks the audio version of a book.
Joseph Narducci is another one of those narrators. I will seek books he narrates because I know it will be an excellent production.
"I Cheered, Cringed, Cussed, Cried...I Smiled."
Once the book got going, I didn't even notice Joseph. As far as I was concerned, I was right there, in the story. I think that's the mark of a great narrator. They just tell the story and bring the character's to life so you can just sit back and enjoy! This is his only book, but I'll definitely be watching for more books with his narration.
First, this story is pretty violent. It is based in and around Rome and in the time period of the gladiators and while the author fades out of a lot of the gruesome scenes, you get to experience the aftermath. And honestly at one point when they are explaining what they did to animals in the arena, I almost turned it off because I couldn't stand it, (yes, I'm sort of a wimp when it comes to animals) but for the most part, everything is handled, so it's not too gory.
This is also a book about spirituality and questioning ones faith. Jonathan is put through the ringer this entire book and is constantly put in a position to question his faith and choose between forgiveness and vengeance. But he is such a good man and I just fell in love with his character.
And along with all the violence and death, there is also a really sweet romance. Really well written with characters you will love and characters you will hate! I cheered, cringed, cussed, cried and smiled!Heartbreaking, heartwarming, Great Listen!
"Stirringly powerful, expertly written and narrated"
An impressively powerful novel, Chasing the Lion beautifully exemplifies Nancy Kimball's brilliant artistry as a storyteller and writer. And Joseph Narducci’s excellent narrative voice pairs with it perfectly, breathing life into Kimball’s words in such a way as to seamlessly invite the listener into the story, to experience everything through the hearts and minds of Kimball’s diverse and deeply-developed characters. Narducci's narration is skillfully balanced, giving voice to these characters’ experiences - impressively, for both male and female characters, in equal measure - in an absolutely believable and tremendously moving way. I was certainly brought to very real tears several times - tears of both sorrow and joy, heartache and triumph. Kimball is so well-researched in her writing, and so thorough, that her story moves flawlessly within its cultural and historical context. Also, the necessarily (historically and culturally accurate) brutal realities portrayed in the novel are handled with so much grace, that - though heart-sickened by the knowledge of the very real tragedy and suffering endured by so many during this particular era of history - I was repeatedly left with the underlying sense of God's steadfast love, even in the midst of the most trying circumstances, and His relentless saving grace. The enduring message of love, sacrifice, and redemption that Kimball weaves throughout Jonathan’s story, paints a beautiful picture of God’s tireless faithfulness, and reminds us that, when there is work to be done - even when all hope seems lost - He will provide a way. This powerful story gives feet to the message that God’s transformational work in the life of a believer is often manifested through many battles, fraught with both sorrow and triumph, but that the ultimate victory is greater than we can possibly imagine. Jonathan’s journey is epic, and I have been blessed in heart, mind, and spirit, as I have listened through this novel. Eagerly awaiting the sequel.
"Epic gladiator story"
It's one of my favorites.
There was a point when the story took a twist and headed off in a direction of its own. The point where Jonathan has to choose to become a gladiator. The premise was fresh and new to me and I really enjoyed reading to see how it would turn out.
Any scene with Clovis. He was my favorite character. :)
It would be easier to ask which scenes didn't move me. It's hard to keep your self emotionally distant from Jonathan.
I enjoyed listening to the story more than I enjoyed reading it for myself. The narrator paces you so that you have to live through every beautiful word. And the voice of Jonathan is outstanding.
"Gripping portrayal of the Early Christians"
I loved Nancy's knowledge and portrayal of Roman culture during the first century AD. She did a terrific job of bringing to life the horror and plight of the gladiators and early Christians. How they survived that and still remained faithful to God is a testimony in itself.
I loved the romance between the hero and heroine. It comes late in the story so I won't mention names. The long wait was the only trying issue for me. Poor Jonathan never caught a break until the romance started.
The romantic scenes were definitely my favorite, but then again I'm a lover of romance novels.
Yes, the whole time period and life of a gladiator was brought to life by Ms Gimball. It was a difficult book to set aside so consequently I didn't get all my chores done while listening to it. Her portrayal of the times was gripping and quite impressive.
I would recommend this book for an exciting and gripping experience of the life of a gladiator in first century Rome. But be aware that Ms. Gimball doesn't hold back on describing the violence of that era. I really liked Joseph's portrayal of Jonathan. His narration for the male characters was excellent.
"What's not to love?"
The story is stellar! Just wonderful writing and I don't normally read gladiator stories. I love the dynamic relationships and how relatable the characters are. Normally I steer clear of male narration, but Joseph Narducci has changed my mind. His voice is so easy to listen to. I could listen to him talk for hours.
The love story between Jonathan and Nessa. They face trials and heartache, but their faith in God and love for each other stands through it all.
Jonathan, hands down. He's exactly how I envision Jonathan sounding in my head.
Yes! If I could have I would have. I was always looking for reasons to continue listening. In the car, doing dishes, at bed time. Whenever and wherever I could!
I can't wait for the sequel! Nancy Kimball is an author to watch!
"Joseph Narducci Packs a Punch in Chasing the Lion!"
Powerful, Thought-provoking, Rich
I haven't read / listened to a great deal on this time period, so it would be difficult to give an accurate comparison. However, I can say that I totally enjoyed "Chasing the Lion" and would definitely read / listen to more from Nancy Kimball / Joseph Narducci.
Johnathan Tarquinius (the hero) was my absolute favorite character.
I was pleasantly surprised by Mr. Narducci's versatility. His skill in changing from one character to another so effortlessly, seamlessly, was impeccable. Also, the emotion in his voice made the story believable, as well as adding a quality that helped to move the story forward. I would certainly listen to more book readings by Joseph Narducci. Well done!
I enjoyed both the print and the audio edition of this story, but the narrator, Joseph Narducci, brings the characters to life with his rich voice and makes you feel the emotions the characters are feeling.
My favorite character is Jonathan, of course. How can you not love a man who'll give his life to protect the ones he loves?!
Without trying to spoil the ending, my favorite scene is when Jonathan and Nessa are reunited. :-) It just made me smile.
If you want a great story to listen to, one that'll hold your attention long after the last page, pick up an audio copy of Chasing the Lion.
However many times Johnathan is hurt to the brink of death God heals him and the author ends the story beautifully.
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