Wednesday, March 1, 2017
Book Review-The Centurion
"Then these words, these very seditious words, stole past his lips. 'Surely this was the son of God.'"
The Centurion from the Biblical account who uttered these words at Jesus' crucifixion is our main character in this book by Ken Gire. Gire writes the story from a Roman view point, creating Lucius Alexander Titus as a courageous leader in the Roman army who aspires for higher service to the emperor and the glory of Rome. The unusual circumstances of the crucifixion drives him to know more about Jesus and his followers. He also sees a woman there whom he once met before, Mary Magdala. When he discovers the group of believers he apologizes for his part in Jesus' death and spends time mingling from them and learning to know them and more about their God. When he makes his feelings of love known to Mary, she acknowledges her mutual feelings but refuses to allow a relationship between them. Jesus is her first love, she is committed to working in the Kingdom of God, she doesn't have time for a love affair because Jesus will be returning soon and Lucius' love would be a distraction.
Lucius is crushed and angry. Duty calls him to another region and, except for letters Lucius sends her, he and Mary have no further contact,until later in the story. There are ongoing glimpses of Mary's life and her sadness in missing Lucius, but she has chosen to stay true to her cause.
Much of the story tells of Lucius' battle forays and his eventual disillusionment with the Roman empire. There are many scenes of violence portrayed rather graphically. While Lucius doesn't hold allegiance to the gods of Rome, like most of his fellow soldiers, neither does he ever have a defining experience of becoming a Christ follower. He makes a difficult choice in the end of the story that could possibly be interpreted as a conversion, but I wasn't convinced. The last scene in the book is very moving, so don't read the end of the book first if you want to experience the unexpected ending.
While the book held my interest, I would have liked more character development and less battle descriptions. The author shows his word skills well in describing his settings. If tempted to skim these details, I was always rewarded by noticing closely, the interesting word structures chosen to describe the imagery.
The last 55 pages of the book are in a section called "Sources". The author includes these notes, full of other resources and information, to give the reader more background on the history of the era and the lives of the characters. He also hopes to give encouragement to writers by sharing some of his creative processes and how he arrived at some of his decisions in writing the story.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.