Up until recently I had only read one other book by Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love, and I did not care for it. It was just kind of boring and a typical “cheesy” Christian romance BUT I am so glad I didn’t decide to write off all books by this author. I decided to pick up the first book, A Voice in the Wind, in a three part series, Mark of the Lion. This book is Christian historical fiction and honestly one of the best books I’ve read and not just in this genre, but in general. I’ll give you the synopsis and then my thoughts. This review will be spoiler free.
“The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles.” With this opening sentence, A Voice in the Wind transports readers back to Jerusalem during the first Jewish-Roman War, some seventy years after the death of Christ. Following the prides and passions of a group of Jews, Romans and Barbarians living at the time of the siege, the narrative is centered on an ill-fated romance between a steadfast slave girl, Hadassah, and Marcus, the brother of her owner and a handsome aristocrat. After surviving the massacre of her family and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, Hadassah is captured and sold to a well-to-do merchant’s family. Brought to Rome, she is pressed into service as a personal slave to hedonistic Julia Valerian. Hadassah struggles to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to treat her masters in a manner in keeping with His teachings, but she is forced to keep her religious identity a secret in order to survive. Confused and alone, she has only her faith to cling to as she tries to subtly bring God into the lives of her captors. Reckless, impulsive, and villainous, Julia tries to undermine Hadassah at every turn. But Julia’s brother, Marcus, is a different sort altogether. Is it possible for a love between Hadassah and Marcus to flourish considering not only their differing stations in life, but also the gap between Hadassah’s unrelenting faith and Marcus’ lack of belief in anything? Simultaneously, Atretes, a captured soldier from Germania, is forced to become a gladiator. This is the time of Rome’s decline and the decadence of a civilization on the verge of self-destruction serves as a powerful backdrop to the Barbarian’s struggle for survival in the arena.
I know that Christian fiction may not appeal to all people, however, if you like historical fiction I really think you’ll enjoy this book even if you’re not a Christian. It does have a Christian message but most of the characters are fictional (not based on anyone from the Bible) and this story just has an amazing historical feel to it. There is so much detail put into the characters and the settings. In my opinion, a mark of a good book is when it can make me feel something and this one had me in tears. I loved or loathed every character because this story just immerses you in their lives. These characters are not forgettable. The ending left me with my mouth hanging open in disbelief and an urgent need to get book two, An Echo in the Darkness.
These books are fairly large and I have one other book I”m going to read and review before I move on to book two in this series. I should be able to have it reviewed within two or three weeks. I highly recommend you read this book if you’re fan of Christian or historical fiction. This is only the second book I’ve read by Francine Rivers so let me know if you’ve read any of hers and what I should read after this series! Thanks for reading and have a great day!