From debut author Wolf comes a novel based loosely on the life of St. Ambrose, this version set in a future far removed from the saint’s fourth-century life.
The days of the United States, the Constitution and most other recognizable forms of American government are over. Now there is the United Provinces, an entity more akin to ancient Rome. Guns have been outlawed, clergy serve important roles in government, and “Huns” and “Goths” refer to sizable entities outside the United Provinces. While American-style football is still a popular entertainment, it now features gladiatorial halftime events such as criminals battling gladiators for their freedom. Living as a successful lawyer in this often violent society is Aurelius Ambrosius. When Ambrose, as he’s known to friends, is unexpectedly tapped to become the next governor of Dionysius, his life changes and he goes from being a clever, albeit stressed, lawyer to a reluctant though rising politician. Added to the uncertainty of Ambrose’s position is a schism in the powerful Catholic Church: A debate rages as to the position of Jesus in the holy trinity. Though seemingly trivial to the laymen, the controversy is enough for one archbishop to dramatically commit suicide in public, which causes more trouble down the road as the act is investigated. The society in which this future version of Ambrose finds himself is an intriguing yet occasionally indecipherable one. Some details—such as the play-by-play of a football game—don’t have much relevance to the broader story, and readers will sometimes get lost in an otherwise fascinating account of a Rome-like alternative America. Likewise, character traits tend to be blunt—e.g., a character who “stood six foot one inches tall and weighed 165 pounds”—in sharp contrast to the more revealing details of hymns performed and tidbits of religious history.
Ambitious worldbuilding, though not always clear in the creation of it.