Publisher:
Christian Faith

Publication Date:
09/15/2022

Copyright Date:
N/A

ISBN:
978-1685170783

Binding:
Paperback

U.S. SRP:
24.95

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LUCIUS: A Soldier’s Journey

By Rev. Michael H. Lavery

IR_Star-black
IR Rating:
3.7
Rev. Michael H. Lavery's well written historical novel, LUCIUS: A Soldier’s Journey, convincingly addresses human struggles with loyalty, faith and morality and is populated by well constructed, often troubled characters whose inner turmoil resonate across the centuries.

An honorable Roman soldier becomes entangled in the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Lucius comes from a family line of loyal Roman soldiers. Though prepared to act on the instructions of Caesar, his misgivings about the frequent savagery of the Roman empire lead him to question his beliefs and his standing as a military leader. When he is ordered to take charge of the suppression of the Zealots in Jerusalem he inadvertently enters the orbit of Jesus who has become an influential teacher and leader. As the establishment seeks to extinguish the rebellious influence of this charismatic man, Lucius is drawn ever closer to him until the resurrection opens his eyes to the truth.

In LUCIUS: A Soldier’s Journey, Rev. Michael H. Lavery’s carefully constructed retelling of events around the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the author follows the exploits of a Roman soldier and in so doing is able to bring an alternative perspective to a familiar tale. Lucius is a caring man who, despite his moral courage, is trapped by events beyond his control. Lavery is very good at rendering the inner turmoil of those caught up in this story including the disgust of loyal Lucius at the barbarity enacted before him and the anguish of Pilate who feels his hand is forced. The love story that develops between Arius and Chloe, two of the slaves that Lucius has liberated, is tender and touching and Lavery displays empathy and compassion for these secondary characters. This echoes the underlying message of the teachings of the Jesus figure who dominates proceedings, despite being a peripheral presence for much of the book.

Lavery’s writing is less effective in its scene setting and sense of history. Though the story of Christ’s Passion and the world in which it occurred is a familiar one to readers of the Gospels and the many previous historical retellings, there is a still a requirement on the part of the author to invoke the era for himself rather rely on rote “Ancient Rome 101” notes. Unlike the doyens of historical fiction such as Robert Harris or Conn Iggulden who are able to meticulously detail the quotidian life of their characters in a way that brings them truly alive, Lavery relies on broad strokes and depends on the reader to fill in the blanks. He is never truly able to invoke a convincing sense of place.

None of this is to say that LUCIUS is not enjoyable. It is, after all, a version of “the greatest story ever told” and though it may not be the greatest telling of that story it is one written with care, with grace and, for a debut novel in particular, no little skill. Readers of faith will greatly enjoy this new take on the Passion of Christ and more general readers may enjoy a finely balanced soldier’s tale investigating the morality of blind loyalty and rigid tradition. And Lavery does manage to address weighty theological themes without ever resorting to simple preaching or established Christian dogma.

Rev. Michael H. Lavery’s well written historical novel, LUCIUS: A Soldier’s Journey, convincingly addresses human struggles with loyalty, faith and morality and is populated by well constructed, often troubled characters whose inner turmoil resonate across the centuries.

~Kent Lane for IndieReader

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