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Friday, 19 August 2016

Sword and Serpent by Taylor R. Marshall

Sword and Serpent
Taylor R. Marshall
Saint John Press

ISBN 9780988442559
ASIN B00Q09BFH2


Epic story; that is the best way to sum up this book! I have become a fan of Dr. Marshall's blog and podcasts. I have even read a few of this theological works, but this narrative as historical fiction was an amazing read. For a number of years in university I wore a Saint George medal that my grandmother had given me. This retelling of the legend of Saint George and the Dragon brings it to live in a new way.

The writing in this tale is masterful, set in A.D. 299, in the Roman empire it weaves tales and stories of a number of saints, into a very addictive read. In many ways it reads like Jack Whyte's historical fiction but with a stronger Christian message. In some ways it reads like Tolkien in its epic proportions and alternating story lines that eventually weave together. This was a thoroughly addictive read. Once I got into it, it was very hard to put down. The characters are wonderfully written, Lucius Aurelius Georgius known as Jurian, Menas the giant, Sabra the daughter of the Governor of Cyrene and priestess of the old god, and her servant Hanno. The story's main arcs focus around these four. But we also have the bishop Saint Nikolaos, Blasios or Saint Blaise, Saint Cyricius to name but a few.

The elements of myth, fantasy and history blend so well in this novel that at times as you are transported into the story you forget it is historical fiction and enter the world Taylor Marshall has created. But as Jurial struggles with understanding the faith of his mother and sister, he is growing in that faith; that same faith can be an example for us, teaching us to trust more, step out in faith more to grow. Madelein L'Engle stated ""We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes. In literature the longing for home is found in the many stories of paradise, of the forgotten place where we once belonged."  This story does that it gives us glimpses of greater truths, it reveals saints and in part the path to becoming saints in our own lives.

I believe that this would have been a book that both Tolkien and Lewis would have loved. I can picture the Inklings sitting with a pint discussing the story and speculating where it would go next. And according to Taylor's website that sequel will be out in 2016.

This was an incredible read. I average well over 100 books read each year. And this was one of the best that I have read in a long, long time. If you have an interest in ancient Rome, early Christianity, dragons or even just love a good read you need to give this book a try. 

And if I haven't convinced you yet, check out the book trailer.

Books by Taylor R. Marshall:
Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages: The Layman's Quick Guide to Thomism
Saint Augustine in 50 Pages: The Layman's Quick Guide to Augustinianism
God's Birthday: Why Christ Was Born on December 25 and Why it Matters


Sword and Serpent Series:
Sword and the Serpent
The Tenth Region of the Night

The Origins of Catholic Christianity Series:
The Crucified Rabbi: Judaism and the Origins of Catholic Christianity
The Catholic Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Origins of Catholic Christianity
The Eternal City: Rome & the Origins of Catholic Christianity


(Note: this books is part of a series: A Year of Reading Intention - Catholic Reading!)