SOUL FLAME by Barbara Wood


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Another one of Wood's (Vital Signs, Domina, etc.) pat but keenly absorbing medical potboilers: the life and times of an adventurous healer-woman in the first century A.D. Lovely, 16-year-old Selene has been raised in Antioch by a highly respected healer-woman named Mera, who teaches her all the tricks of the trade (including the ancient folk equivalents of aspirin, penicillin, and even lanolin). But when the girl falls in love with a handsome Roman physician named Andreas (the two eventually plan to hang out their shingle together), Mera forces Selene out on a long journey through the desert, muttering darkly about how Selene's mysterious heritage and destiny don't involve some two-bit local sawbones. Then, when Mera dies suddenly, the fate-tossed Selene embarks on a Wonderful 17-year adventure: she's taken captive by the perfectly marvelous Mad Queen of Bath-Sheba, escapes with the help of a German slave named Wulf (by whom she later has a child), and wanders through Babylon, Persia, Judea, and finally Egypt, all the time searching for Andreas and dreaming about building a hospital (practically unknown in the ancient world). Finally, in Alexandria, she finds out the astonishing truth about her ancestry: that she's the granddaughter of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. She heads for Rome, where--naturally--this information doesn't sit well with certain factions; still, she gains the Emperor Claudius' protection, is reunited with and weds Andreas, and even builds her hospital. But when the evil Empress Agrippina murders Claudius, Selene, Andreas, and their infant son are forced to flee for their lives--and to stand watching from ship's deck as the hospital bums to the ground. One senses a sequel lurking, Phoenix-like, in the ashes. All in all: large doses of fascinating medical lore mixed with engrossing romantic adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 26th, 1987
ISBN: 0595433340
Publisher: Random House