Friday 22 December 2023

Nikolaos A Retelling of the Saint Nicholas Story - Taylor R. Marshall - A Sword and Serpent Novel

Nikolaos: A Retelling of the Saint Nicholas Story
A Sword and Serpent Novel
Taylor R. Marshall
Saint John Press

ISBN 9780999658673

Nikolaos A Retelling of the Saint Nicholas Story - Taylor R. Marshall - A Sword and Serpent Novel

I read the original Sword and Serpent trilogy and through that it was an epic story. This latest offering in the same historical fiction world hits it out of the ball park. In this work Taylor Marshall takes on the legend of Saint Nikolaos is amazing! Dr. Marshall in the acknowledgements states:

“I still believe in the real Saint Nikolaos. May this short novella remind people of the countless miracles that God accomplished through his servant Nikolaos who died as a revered bishop at the age of 73 on December 6 AD 343. The plot of this book takes place 44 years prior when he was a newly ordained Christian presbyter ministering in Myra. The novella retells the famous story of Nikolaos assisting three poor daughters on the brink of being sold into prostitution and is the origin story for Nikolaos’s reputation of sneaking into homes and leaving gifts on Christmas morning.”

The description of this book is:

“In the heart of the Roman Empire, presbyter Nikolaos faces an otherworldly battle far beyond anything he has ever experienced.

Melitta, daughter of a fallen merchant, teeters on the precipice of slavery, her family's fate entwined with a demonic force gripping her father's soul. Nikolaos is tasked with the impossible: to free Melitta’s father from the demon’s malevolent clutches and save Melitta and her sisters from a life of shameful servitude. Can he overcome his own uncertainties to confront the demon and unravel the secrets binding Melitta's family to a fate worse than death?

As the feast of the Nativity approaches, the boundaries between faith and fear blur, and miracles are forged in the crucible of desperation. Will love, courage, and the spirit of the season prevail over the evil threatening the Empire’s very soul?”

We encounter many new historic figures in this book, and also get to visit with old friends including Georgius aka Jurian, Christophorus - Menas, Mari, and Macarius. The dedication of the book states:

“This book is dedicated to all the good bishops and priests who, like Saint Nicholas, have lovingly served our family as good shepherds of the sheep.”

 This story is very well written. Each of the 4 novels I have read from the pen of Marshall have great characters, a solid plot, and excellent prose. The story draws you in and keeps your attention. IT presents the reality of the spiritual battle and the spiritual realm. About thirty years ago Frank E. Peretti was very popular in evangelical circles; I loved his books This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness but by the time I read his book The Oath I felt like I was reading a Christianized Stephen King, just sprinkle some Jesus on it. When I finished The Oath I felt slimed, like I needed to go to confession. This volume does an amazing job of showing the darkness we fight against, in a fictional manner, and yet does not cross that like to where the focus becomes the strength and power of evil. It is a delicate balance and Marshall handled it masterfully. 

It was wonderful to read about Nikolaos and his experiences serving his people. His turning to prayer again and again, his bilocation to help save friends at sea. His battling evil and demons in the name and power of Jesus. And his seeking for God’s guidance and will for how to save three young women of his flock from a fate worse than death! Nikolaos’s invocation in his final confrontation with the demon are moving and powerful. Even though this is a fiction offering it has helped deepen my prayer life this advent, as I have read this story and continue to reflect upon it.

As of the writing of this review I have read 446 books so far this year. Of the novels this one is one of the best. It is a wonderful read. It will be appreciated by those who are into historical fiction. Buy 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 part of an epic story and that really is the best kind! This piece of the Sword and Serpent series is an excellent offering. 

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2023 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

Nikolaos A Retelling of the Saint Nicholas Story - Taylor R. Marshall - A Sword and Serpent Novel

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