9 of 10
576 pages; Signet Classics
Hollywood has found this sword-and-sandals tale irresistible for more than a century—at least five takes on Lew Wallace's 1880 novel have hit the big screen, the first in 1907. In this latest adaptation of the story, out August 19, Jack Huston plays the titular hunk, a prince who's enslaved by the Romans but bent on using chariot-racing to secure freedom. Along the way, he gets inspired by some pep talks from Jesus (Wallace's original classic was meant to reel in the faithful with its deeply researched portrayal of Jesus and the Roman Empire). While the book doesn't always have the clatter and drama of a gladiator battle, Wallace works in a genuinely tender love story that adds a moving subplot to the story.
— Mark Athitakis