This classic Christian series I had not read until now. It has won acclaim from over 2 million readers to date, which is why it was on my radar. While this series is far from great literature, and is littered with cultural inaccuracies, it is good storytelling that kept my interest through its 1500 pages.
Book 1 of the series is called Voice in the Wind and follows the story of Hadassah, a young Christian girl of Jewish descent who was sent as a slave to Rome after the fall of Jerusalem. She is plucky and devout, virtuous and exemplary, but Rome is a depraved, difficult place where Christians are in constant danger. Hadassah is purchased as a slave for Julia, who is foolish and myopic, and is obsessed with a barbarian gladiator named Attretus, who fights in the arena. And of course Hadassah falls for Julia’s brother Marcus, which complicates things.
Book 2 of the series is called An Echo in the Darkness and it follows Marcus on his convoluted path to becoming a Christian himself.
Book 3 of this series is As Sure As the Dawn, which follows Attretus in a concurrent, parallel story to Book 2, following Book 1.
These books needed some serious editing, not for length, but for repetitiveness of phrases. I get that Julia was selfish, but you do not need to keep saying so in every other sentence? The two phrases “raked his hand through his hair” and “smiled sardonically” were used over 100 times, with multiples on the same page.
Also irritating were copious historical inaccuracies, and the use of 20th Christian century terminology, instead of the language that would have been used back in 1st century Christianity. For example, they talked about the doctrine of the trinity, before that idea was in parlance. These anachronisms bothered me more than the fact that I disagree with some of the (fundamental) theology expressed here. Also, simple mistakes abounded, like the fact that 2000 years ago Germans were eating corn (not!). To me, in historical fiction, little things are important to get right, and these things struck me as glaring problems that should have easily been mitigated.
However, even with those rather serious complaints, I am still going to give these books 4 stars. This author, despite her shortcomings, wove an interesting story, with plot twists and interesting characters. It was compelling enough to complete all three books, and be glad I had.
I will be buying this boxed set of the Mark of the Lion series for a Christmas present this year. It might be perfect to for someone on your list too, or even yourself?