Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace


Recommended for: 12 and up ( for reading and interest level)

Rating: PG (intense images)

 Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a novel by Lew Wallace published on November 12, 1880 by Harper & Brothers. Wallace's work is part of an important sub-genre of historical fiction set among the characters of the New Testament. The novel was a phenomenal best-seller; it soon surpassed Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) as the best-selling American novel and retained this distinction until the 1936 publication of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind.

The central character is Judah, prince of the Hebrew house of Hur. Judah grows up in Jerusalem, during the turbulent years around the birth of Christ. His best friend is Messala, a Roman. As adults Judah and Messala become rivals, each hating the other, which leads to Judah's downfall and eventual triumph. Elements of the story include leprosy, naval battles among galleys, the Roman hippodrome, Roman adoption, Magus Balthasar, the Arab sheikh Ilderim.

 I was excited to read this book because I like stories about this period and I had heard that it was good.

Writing: 3/5
 There are parts of this book that drag and where there are long sections of descriptions. It is very common in old books and I wasn't surprised that it had long descriptions. There were also some parts where I was confused as to what was happening and at the length of time, for the characters, to the chariot race. There were some parts where I really enjoyed it. The parts with Ben-Hur's mother and sister were all very interesting and were some of my favorite parts. I also enjoyed many of the parts where he was young.

Setting: 4/5

 The setting was pretty good and some parts seemed historically accurate. The parts that weren't historically accurate were that in the story Jesus is born on December 25, when He would have really been born earlier in the year, and some things with the wise men, of which no one knows all the details. The later things about Jesus' life seemed accurate. I don't know a lot about the culture of the time, but from what I know it seems accurate and authentic.

Plot: 5/5

 The story follows Ben-Hur who is separated from his family, and tries to find them. All the while he is preparing for the Messiah by learning how to fight so that they can defeat Rome and set Israel free. The book starts out with the wise men and the birth of Jesus, and then moves to Ben-Hur when he was young. Lew Wallace originally wrote this story to prove that Jesus was not the Messiah. Lew Wallace then became a Christian. I wonder what the original story was like and how much revising he had to do.

Characters: 5/5

 Ben-Hur is the main character and is my favorite one. He cares about his family and country. The characters are unique and likeable. And I did dislike Messala, who was the main bad guy. Tirzah, Ben-Hur's sister, acted realistically at one point of the story, and there was one part that I thought a character acted weird which was later explained, then it made sense. 

Even though it was difficult to read at times, I would recommend it. 


  1. I love this book! I've read it several times in the past, and finally bought a copy at 2nd & Charles as a Christmas present to myself ;D

  2. I read it for school but I wanted to read it. I first heard about it when I read a book about Lew Wallace.


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