This book is a thrilling and exhilarating story of Israel and Rome in the time of Christ. Betrayal, love, suspense, revenge, friendship, disaster, salvation, murder, war, spies, and of course, the famous chariot race- this book has everything! (I was quite surprised by several plot twists that are definitely NOT in the movie!)
Judah Ben-Hur is a wonderful main character, who goes through all the despair and joy that humanity is capable of. I really identified with his character, cheering him on through his mistakes and misfortunes.
I was especially in love with the relationships and friendships between the people that Judah meets… the old Egyptian, the Arabian sheik, Simonides and his daughter, Esther. They are all beautiful characters with such distinct personalities, and I quickly became invested in their individual stories.
Hanging over the whole story is the discovery of the Christ, the slow realization of Who He is, and the soul-stirring belief in Him that comes to Judah Ben-Hur and his friends. Their philosophical and theological dialogue is carefully peppered through the story as Judah grows up, his ideas changing, and his heart opening to the possibilities of the soul. The theological ideas are very well written, blending into the story so that it doesn’t feel too preachy. I was crying all through every scene that described Christ, but especially the crucifixion at Golgotha seen through the eyes of Ben-Hur, which was very moving.
My only problem with this book was the long looooooong descriptive passages. I skipped most of them, because I don’t need two pages to describe the exact fabric and color of every pillow inside an Arab’s tent, down to the kind of wool used for the carpets. TMI! Seriously. (Similar to Dickens’ long-winded descriptive passages.)
Other than that, I loved the rich writing style! The action-filled plot and fantastic dialogue made up for it.