Monday 27 November 2017

Storm of Fire and Blood - Taylor R. Marshall - Sword and Serpent Book III

Storm of Fire and Blood
Sword and Serpent Book III
Taylor R. Marshall
Saint John Press

ISBN 9780988442597

I have finished this book twice now. I have read it and I have listened to it. I wanted to read it a second time before writing my review because I did not want to come off too much as a Fan Boy. My first thought when I finished it, was that it was incredible. Maybe even the best trilogy I have ever read! At the time of writing this review I have read 331 books so far this year, and 2238 books in the last 10 years, and this book is one of the best, and the series is by far the best series I have read in that time frame.  

Trilogies can be tricky business. Too many authors want to write a trilogy out of the blocks, and the story just does not have the staying power. Other authors do not know how to count, and you get trilogies of 9 books like the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy, or Xanth that is now up to 40 published and 2 forthcoming in the series.  Obviously Piers Anthony and Douglas Adams cannot count.  I did finish the first of those series and gave up before 10 books on the second.  This series is finished at three books. It is a trilogy and it is an incredible trilogy. In Fact the only trilogy I liked as much were The Lord of The Rings by Tolkien, and I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, and for vary different reason.

 In my review of Sword and Serpent I stated: “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 in my review of The Tenth Region of the Night I added: “I believe they would have loved this sequel and be eagerly awaiting book III.” And from where I sit it was worth the wait. It really is rare for books in a trilogy to get better with each book. Most authors cannot sustain that level of surprise, at least from the thousands of books I have read. But this series gets exponentially better with each book. And maybe that is due to the fact that this was his first foray into fiction. And as much as I love his theology, these historical fiction novels are incredible reading! 

In this book, and this series, Dr. Taylor Marshall writes in and around the lives of saints, drawing us back in time to when Christianity was a feared and persecuted religion. He has drawn extensively from historical sources and written this incredible tale around truth, and around the legends. He weaves together the stories of many well know saints and also a number of lesser known saints. This story focuses around Jurian (Saint George), his friend Minas (St. Christopher), but we also encounter Catherine of Alexandria, Saint Helena, and a young man who will eventually become Saint Constantine. And the incredible character of Saint Nicholas or Myrna. This novel continues directly from book two. Jurian has been exiled, and he is heading north with Constantinus, he has a mission to return the sword. But after he receives a word of knowledge he knows that the future he had hoped for might not be, for he will be forced to choose between his faith, and his life. The snake Casca plays a major role in this book, but there are some incredible plot twists and surprises in this story, and is one of those who will surprise readers of the series. 

This book is an amazing mix of history, legend and myth. While reading it you are transported to ancient Rome, North Africa, and Britannia. We travel by boat, sea, and by foot. We follow the stories of numerous characters, in different locals who are all being drawn to the Diocletian and a conflict between earthly and heavenly powers. Even with having read it twice I know I will read this book again. Maybe over the Christmas holidays read the whole series again. 

As stated this book is the best of the last 2200 books I have read in the last 10 years! It is incredible. It will be appreciated by fans of historical fiction. Also by those who are Christian or Catholic and want a real glimpse of what like would have been like prior to Christianity becoming an approved religion. It is an epic story and that really is the best kind! And though we will not have more stories about Saint George, I can only hope we will have more stories with some of the other characters in this book. Not since reading the Sky Stone series by Jack Whyte have I encountered such an incredible story that touches on Arthurian Legend, but this book and series is so much more than just that! If you enjoy a good read, you must read this series!

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2017 Catholic Reading Plan!

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

Infiltration: The Plot to Destroy the Church from Within
The Rosary in 50 Pages: The Layman’s Quick Guide to Mary’s Psalter

Sword and Serpent Series:
Sword and the Serpent
The Tenth Region of the Night
Storm of Fire and Blood

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


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