Wednesday 17 January 2007

Byzantium by: Stephen R. Lawhead

Stephen R. Lawhead
ISBN-10: 0061057541
ISBN-13: 9780061057540

At nearly 900 pages this book is amazing in many ways. First, you read that much in such a short time, for once you have picked it up you will find yourself unable to put it down. This book is a fictional retelling of St. Aidan's life. St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Ontario has a St. Aidan's Chapel that has a beautiful set of tapestries depicting the life of this servant of God. St. Aidan died in 651 after serving at home in Iona, among the Gauls - first as a slave and then as a Bishop, and he even visited Byzantium in his lifetime, and the seat of the Eastern Roman Empire.

I was familiar with this church and with the artwork depicting Aidan's life. Yet it was not until almost halfway through the book, that I slapped my forehead and said 'Aidan the monk = St. Aidan'. The book is so craft- fully written that one easily becomes so lost in the story that it did not even click that I knew about this tale.

Lawhead is a master wordsmith, who is most know for his Arthurian legend series, or his Celtic series, yet this stand-alone novel is every bit as much worth the time and attention as his other better-known works. This book was a departure for Lawhead, in that it was written from the beginning as a stand-alone. Therefore, if you do not like getting sucked into a series, where you need to read 4 or 5 books to get the whole story, this book is a great starting point in Lawhead's works.

The story in this novel is powerful and moving. It is the story of a young man who was taken as a slave and later returned as a Minister, and eventually as a Bishop. It is the story of the spread of Christendom, and the story of service. Once you begin you will not be able to put this book down. So be warned!

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