So with everything that happened in July and with GISHWHES, I realized I totally forgot to post the last book we read for Book Club.
Just in case for anyone new, I started a book club with three other people. There is no theme or restrictions, just every month a different person has a turn to pick a book, we read it for the month, and afterwards meet to talk about it. Fun for everyone.
Last month’s pick was:
A Voice in the Wind (Mark of the Lion #1) by Francine Rivers
I first started reading Francine Rivers’ novels when a friend recommended Redeeming Love (a fantastic book that I strongly recommend). Afterwards, I started reading as many of her books as I could get a copy of. This one I put on my to-read list like five years ago and forgot all about it. I mean you know about to-read lists.
So when my friend brought it out as a suggestion, I was all for it.
The story actually follows four main characters and how their lives intersect with each other, the decisions they make, and how they grow or regress as characters.
Character One: Hadassah
Hadassah is living in a time where Rome is in complete control and being Jewish or Christian can mean death. Unfortunately for Hadassah, she is both.
Yes, her parents were both Jewish but her father converted to Christianity when Jesus raised him from the dead (Luke 7:11-17). Her married Hadassah’s mother (who also converted to Christianity) and the two raised their three children as Christians.
Their lives have gone incredibly downhill as Rome marches on Jerusalem destroying it, with all of Hadassah’s family being murdered. Hadassah finds herself unsure how she will continue on with her weak faith and uncertain future. Will she be able to trust God through it all?
Hadassah is saved from being killed; manages to survive the march to Rome, gets through a lice-filled boat, barely is maneuvered from becoming a temple prostitute, and is bought by a Jewish slave for his master, going into the powerful Valerian family. There she is given to serve the selfish, young, and beautiful Julia Valerian. Hadassah faces many ups and downs trying to live her Christian faith, set an example to others; while trying to walk the thin line that separates her from being thrown to the lions as a pre-show for the gladiatorial games.
She finds herself becoming friends with Julia’s older brother Marcus, praying hard for him and his family. But as her connection to Marcus grows stronger:
She finds herself unsure what path to take. Will Hadassah be able to serve God and receive a happy ending? Or will she cross that line and enter temptation? Or worse, death?
Character Two: Atretes
Atretes is a prince from Germany known for his wildness, strength, courage, and ability. After the death of his father he finds himself being handed the kingship and given a prophecy: a dark haired woman as his lover, being known throughout Rome, he will triumph over his foes, and being able to free his people from slavery.
However, in the next battle skirmish, Atretes is captured by Roman soldiers. He tried hard to be killed in battle, but they decide to keep him and train him to become a gladiator.
At first he refuses to play along, but eventually becomes the star fighter as he discovers the only way to win his freedom is to follow along.
He achieves, money, fame, etc.; but still remains a slave and not given real freedom. His life changes when he meets Julia Valerian. She comes to him willingly, paying heavily to be with him. She appears to be everything foreseen by his mother and he begins to fall for her, and changes his perspective of “the game” as he fights for money, freedom, and the ability to marry the person he loves.
But will Atretes fullfill his prophecies of the woman he loves, overpower Rome, and free his people? Or will he discover that Rome doesn’t fight fair and that he will never truly be free from its grasp?
Character Three: Marcus Valerian
Marcus Valerian grew up in a time of strife that has settles into prosperity and peace. His only hobbies in life are pursuing whatever pleases him: mostly making money and winning women. However, Marcus quickly becomes bored with this lifestyle and is always pursuing making more money and a harder challenge.
He is constantly going to the gladiator games, but becomes bored with those as well in life.
His father tries to instill a moral code in him, but Marcus refuses to listen to anything his father says as he feels that his father is “too old” and “behind the times”. He thinks his way is the best and his lifestyle-something he ends up instilling in his younger, naive, and impressionable sister.
But when Hadassah enters the house she starts a ripple effect of a change of atmosphere. Everything about her and her beliefs challenges his lifestyle and the choices he is making in life.
Will Marcus find something real to fill his life? Will he ever be happy? Or will the choices he has made come back to bite him?
Character Four: Julia Valerian
Julia is the Marcus’ younger sister and has been sheltered her whole life and given every whim. In an effort to reshape her character and give her more morals, her parents give her Hadassah to be her servant; hoping that Hadassah’s kind and gentle spirit will rub off on Julia.
But all Julia cares about is being beautiful, idolizing her brother Marcus and his values, and seeks to become the most sough after gal in Rome. She ends up trusting women who are bad influences that like to manipulate her, not listening to any of the advice her parents try to give her.
She is married off to a kind man, but is too selfish and self-centered to appreciate him. Instead she sets her eyes on a handsome gladiator she sees training, Atretes. Later her foolish and heedless behavior causes the death of her husband, and she and Hadassah are sent back to her parent’s house.
Through it all Hadassah loves and cares for Julia as a sister, even when Julia is rude, crude, overbearing, etc.
Once again Julia chooses friends who don’t have her best interest at heart and are using her. She also marries a handsome, but abusive man. After she grows tired of being treated so cruelly she makes a decision that leads her down a dark path. As Julia continues to make bad decisions and hurt those around her, will Hadassah continue to care and help her? Will Julia turn from her dark choices? Will she have a happy ending? Or will she continue on her trail of destruction?
So what did I think of it?
I thought it was amazing! I started reading and I couldn’t stop:
And if that wasn’t enough, when I read the ending I was in SHOCK!!!
I quickly ran to get the sequel (literally ran)
The book was phenomenal. From Hadassah’s character:
To Marcus’ growth of character:
And all the twists and turns the novel took. You never knew what was going to happen next.
I definitely recommend it.
For more book club picks, go to Book Club Picks: The Darcy Monologues
For more Christian fiction, go to The Austen Series: Reason and Romance
For more bible verses, go to Should We Pity Miss Bates or Strive to Be Her?