Author: Bryan Litfin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Series: Constantine's Empire #1
Release Date: October 13, 2020
It is AD 312. Rome teeters on the brink of war. Constantine's army is on the move. On the Rhine frontier, Brandulf Rex, a pagan Germanic barbarian, joins the Roman army as a spy and special forces operative. Down in Rome, Junia Flavia, the lovely and pious daughter of a nominally Christian senator, finds herself embroiled in anti-Christian politics as she works on behalf of the church.
As armies converge and forces beyond Rex's and Flavia's controls threaten to destroy everything they have worked for, these two people from different worlds will have to work together to bring down the evil Emperor Maxentius. But his villainous plans and devious henchmen are not easily overcome. Will the barbarian warrior and the senator's daughter live to see the Empire bow the knee to Christ? Or will their part in the story of Constantine's rise meet an untimely and brutal end?
Travel back to one of the most pivotal eras in history--a time when devotion to the pagan gods was fading and the Roman Empire was being conquered by the sign of the cross.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
When I was asked to review The Conqueror by Bryan Litfin, I didn't hesitate because it seemed like an excellent Biblical fiction story. I was intrigued by the historical aspects of it and how Constantine adopted Christianity as the Empire's religion. Unfortunately, as I began to read, the author made it clear - this is not Biblical fiction. It is set during the times of the early church, yes, but it is more Historical fiction than Biblical. But with the author's credentials in mind (a former professor of theology at the Moody Bible Institute, a PhD in religious studies from the University of Virginia, and a ThM in historical theology from Dallas Theological Seminary), I pressed on.
There is no doubt the author is an excellent writer and a superb historian. He has done his research. However, his attention to realism had me frequently stepping away from this book to purge my mind of what he'd written. To say I am in shock that Revell chose to publish this book is an understatement.
Within its pages were things I never expected to read in a Christian book, and I cannot unsee what was put in my mind. The fact that these things were described in such detail floored me - animal abuse, extreme violence, idol worship, foul language, vulgarity and debauchery. I found myself skipping pages for fear I would read something else that would pollute my mind.
And yet, the love story growing between Rex and Flavia kept me intrigued. Flavia was devoted to the Lord and ready to give her life for Him. Rex was an idol-worshipping barbarian, in other words, her complete opposite. After saving her from certain death, he sets himself over her as her protector and, in the process, learns about Jesus. I kept reading, hoping that Rex would have a marvellous salvation story. Unfortunately, if it happened, it was lost on me. While Rex seems to call on Jesus in his moments of greatest need, he also draws on other idols to help him. Despite all the horror that went on in this book, this moment of "will he or won't he?" did not have a satisfying conclusion.
But Rex and Flavia's story is not yet over. This is the first book in the series. While I won't continue with it, there may be those who enjoy espionage, mystery, action and adventure, who don't mind the grittiness those types of tales provide. The author is, as I said, an excellent writer, with a flourish for detail. He just has to find the right audience.
This book was provided courtesy of Revell Publishing, through NetGalley, for my honest opinion.
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