An Echo in the Darkness by Francine Rivers is the second book in the Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers. I absolutely LOVED the first book, A Voice in the Wind, but this one fell a little short for me. I’m going to give you the synopsis and then my thoughts. If you haven’t read the first book I would read that review before this one because this will have spoilers.
A prosperous trader, Marcus Lucianus Valerian has made a fortune providing sand and slaves for the Roman games. But Hadassah, a slave in his family’s household, has enchanted him with her quiet beauty and her staunch faith in Christ. When Marcus’ sister sends Hadassah to almost certain death in the games, Marcus feels that his life has been ripped apart. Now he is on his way to Jerusalem to find out more about Hadassah’s God, unaware that a miracle awaits him back in Rome.
The political intrigue of the imperial city provides a dramatic backdrop for Marcus’ spiritual quest.
My main issue with this book is that it was very tedious. What made the first book so entertaining was that it was told from a variety of perspectives. You had Hadassah, Marcus, Julia and a few of the other characters all telling their story from their point of view. This book did the same thing but on a much smaller scale. This was basically just Marcus and Hadassah. I frankly just got bored with both of them. Hadassah is very strong in her Christian faith, which is great, but any time a character is too perfect I start to lose interest. Everything she did and said was always right. She would be disrespectful to others because they would want to do something that didn’t align with her beliefs which I just didn’t feel matched the setting of the story. She was a slave in ancient Rome; I don’t think everybody would have fallen in love with a disrespectful servant and just disregarded her telling them what to do.
Marcus was in mourning for Hadassah through about 75% of the book because he thought she was dead. He went on a spiritual journey to find God and he does end up getting saved. All of this was fine but it just dragged on…and on…and on. To me, it was just incredibly boring and I actually found myself skimming over quite a bit of the parts which is not something I did in the first book.
I also really didn’t like that Julia had such a small part in the book. She was a horribly flawed character that made so many mistakes but that’s why I loved her. She ends up dying from an STD but she does get saved before she dies. Then Marcus and Hadassah live happily ever after and have like ten kids.
Often in trilogies the middle book will kind of lag. Marcus and Hadassah’s story ended with this book. I believe the next one picks up with a different character, Atretes, from the first book. I don’t think this was just a filler story, like some middle books are, but I do think it’s a much slower paced one than the first book. This one focuses heavily on the characters becoming born again Christians. As a Christian myself I’m fine with that message but I just wish it could have been portrayed in a more entertaining way.
I will have the review up for the last book in the trilogy, As Sure as the Dawn, next Monday. I’d love to have your feedback and thoughts on the books so far! Thanks for reading and have a great day!
One thought on “Book Review for “An Echo in the Darkness” by Francine Rivers”
Although all three books are well written, my problem with the last two has a common denominator. I’m a Christian but I don’t agree with the main female characters in either book either deliberate returning to or remaining in emotionally or physically abusive situations believing that God wished them. To do so. The Bible despite its having been written in ancient cultures does not tell us not to have boundaries. In fact, it tells us in a number of verses to have them. For instance. “A tree cannot yield both good and evil fruit. A tree that yields evil fruit is only fit to be cut down and cast into the fire”, “judge righteous judgment”, and many more.
I become upset when I see the new trend in Christian literature to portray Christian women as soft in the face of abuse, even if they are strong otherwise, and also with abusive spouses and love interests (the case in the third book) and remaining with such people expecting God to change them. Or in Hadassahscasebeliev8ng they must return to an abusive slave owner. Paul does send Onesimyus back to Philemon, but Philemon is a Christian and we’d imagine he’s treat him well, and Paul a church leader advises him to do so. He otherwise says there is “neither slave nor free”.
Such scenarios as the above two give bad examples to Christians. There should instead be plots in which the person is compassionate for and forgiving of that person from a safe distance, not entwined with them and close to them in their lives. For instance, H could have remained working as a partner of Alexander while guiding him by example and being his partner could have cared for Julia from a distance, protected by others. Or sending others to her and working in the background. Others who were themselves protected. Her new status as partner of a prominent and successful doctor would have helped. I know the plot makes this difficult but that could have been modified. She could have become a doctor in training herself. Woman doctors had equal status to male doctors in ancient Rome and 9ften became so when trained by senior doctors in just the same situation as she was in. Alexander no lo ger saw himself as her owner.
I’ve never been in an abusive relationship so this is not why I say this, but 8ve observed others who have, and have good boundaries. 8ve also observed Christian women who behave in the face of abuse like the characters in these stories believing its necessary.
In the third book, I know the man changes over time, but in real life change by an abuser is rare. Remaining with him and then marrying him was dangerous. And there are many examples of women in ancient Rome who left abusive husbands or decided not to remarry when widowed. So we can’t argue that oh well it’s the era. It isn’t.
As a Roman historian 8 know there are other inaccuracies but I won’t get into that here.
I also agree with your statement of her being hurtful to those who did not agree with her. In that she is not perfect, only full of herself. She reminds me in that case of a female theology student I know.
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