Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Centurion by Ken Gire

The Centurion is a Christian historical fiction novel by Ken Gire, taking place in Jerusalem and the expanding Roman Empire during AD 33 - AD 65. The book starts with the trial and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, as seen through the eyes of Lucius, a centurion in the Roman army. Intrigued by the unfolding of the day's events, Lucius inquires about this "King of the Jews" and one of his followers in particular, Mary of Magdala.

As they spend time together, Mary and Lucius fall in love. However, their budding romance is short-lived, as Lucius is called away to help Rome expand her empire. His years at battle are long and harsh, changing this young fierce warrior into a mostly cold leader. When he finally returns to Rome, he questions both his past and his convictions which have led to his present.

When I first started reading this book, I thought the romance between Lucius and Mary would play a major role, but it's mostly contained to the first and last sections of the novel. About the middle two-thirds of the book is focused on the Roman conquest, depicting Roman battles, military strategy, and cultural beliefs in immense detail. At times this detail seems overdone, leading one to want to gloss over a paragraph here and there, although it isn't frequent enough to really detract from the overall telling of the story.

I'm giving this book 4/5 stars. Overall, the book tells an interesting story and is well written. However, the last part of the book seemed rushed, as though trying to wrap up a tale that wasn't quite ready to end so abruptly. While we see a lot of character development during the major portion of the storyline, it isn't clearly depicted as to how or why Lucius comes to the conclusions that he does at the end. While most of his decisions at this point could simply be pawned off on an old and weary warrior, it would have been nice to see his line of thinking as we did for most of the rest of the story.

I would recommend this book to those that enjoy historical fiction and Roman history/military strategy. While I originally thought this would be a romance novel, the portions of this book dedicated to the love story between Lucius and Mary are clearly geared for any audience, regardless as to whether or not you enjoy the romance genre.

*Disclaimer: I received a free print edition of this book from Moody Publishers for the purpose of this honest review. All opinions are my own.*

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