In this simply told and competently written novel of the emperor Diocletian’s persecution of Christians in third century Rome, the author captures both the essence of the faith and the most extreme challenges of living it.
A scribe at the palace and a Christian in secret, Linus is consumed by guilt as he copies edicts that will result in the burning of churches and the killing of his brethren across the Roman Empire. By night, he also copies the scriptures to preserve the sacred texts for future generations. For comfort and vindication, he turns to his small community of believers who endure betrayal and unimaginable cruelty as they boldly practice their faith in the shadow of death.
Meanwhile, in the spiritual realm, the angel Raphael and his legions amass to combat the forces of Asmodeus, a prince of hell who works through man to attempt the extermination of the Christian faith. This is no fanciful subplot, but rather, is based on Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) “For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies….but against evil spirits in the heavenly places…”
While the book is historically accurate and scripturally sound, the characters seem one-dimensional, although the point may be that these believers are defined entirely by their faith. In general, though, the novel is a light account of the Great Persecution. Because of its historical accuracy, however, it is the ideal vehicle to introduce teenage Christians to their church’s past. (Note: In one scene, a couple consummates the husband’s return from his distant workplace, which, depending on one’s view, may or may not be a good example of physical love within the context of a Christian marriage.)
Typos, dropped words, and an incorrect attribution of a quote are quickly forgiven due to the writer’s solid writing skill.
Also available as an ebook.