Genre: Christian Historical Fiction
The three part Mark of the Lion series (A Voice in the Wind, An Echo in the Darkness, and As Sure As the Dawn) follow the stories of a Messianic Jewish slave girl, an aristocratic Roman family, and a German tribesman taken into slavery as a gladiator. The setting is decadent Rome in the era of the destruction of the temple and the persecution of Jews and Christians, so THERE IS SOME GRAPHIC SEXUALITY, VIOLENCE AND PAGANISM. I found this hard to read at first and stopped reading for nearly a year before giving it another go. The second time I couldn’t put it down. The pagan worship, violence and sexuality of the book, I believe, does help the story, and is written in such a way that the readers have a healthy indignation for the sin being displayed. That said, it’s not a book for everyone.
But overall, I loved the books–especially the first one. The first two stories, especially, impacted the way I think about serving other people and the Lord, brought depth to my understanding of radical Christianity, and even gave me insight into eschatological scriptures by revealing portions of the past.
The Christian message was a bit cliché in some parts, but encouraging nonetheless. And I was also a bit bothered by the way Rivers portrayed some of the biblical characters who were woven into the story. It would have been better just to leave them out or to rename them, but that’s the artistic risk of giving fictitious portrayals of real-life people, and I respect her for trying.