Book one, The Roman’s Quest, tells the story of Centurion Julius and his Jewish love, Miriam. Uniting a Roman centurion and a Jewish maiden involves many challenges in the first-century Roman world.
Book two, Marcus Varitor, Centurion, follows one of the characters from book one—Julius’ friend Marcus—and weaves his story.
Decanus Marcus (decanus means “chief of ten”) is a young centurion (a professional officer of the Roman army) who has lived a rather riotous life, but seeks to straighten his course because of the change he sees in his friend Julius as well as the attraction he feels for a young Egyptian slave named Meskhanet. Julius has become a Jewish proselyte and Meskhanet also is trying to understand the ways of Adonai, the One God.
Featuring strongly in this story is the infamous Barabbas, whom we know as the criminal freed instead of Jesus. From the start of the book, we know that Decanus Marcus is committed to capturing and convicting Barabbas, but the insurrectionist is a slippery fish to catch and also has plans for revenge and betrayal. The chase leads from Jerusalem to Rome and back, which offers much fodder for story depth and color.
The plot is further complicated by Marcus’ difficult relationship with his family, Meskhanet’s wish to serve her mistress instead of marrying, Barabbas’ mother and her divided loyalties, and many more fascinating subplots. The storyline is intense and unpredictable, which makes for a gripping read.
The characters are strong but not flawless, a must in order for us to identify with them. Campbell makes us care from the beginning what happens to the characters. Dialogue also plays an important part in giving a story credibility, and the author does this well.
Both these books are impeccably researched, from my point of view. Campbell knows the money, the clothing, the lifestyles from Israel to Italy (including Barabbas’ camp), the place of women in society in that day, the relationships between slaves and masters, and many other details we take for granted when we read the story. As in any good historical fiction piece, I learned a lot from the experience and was entertained and inspired at the same time.
I highly recommend this book to readers of historical fiction as well as those who do not normally read in that genre. The writing flows, the stakes are high and the takeaway value is worthwhile.
See more about Anne Baxter Campbell at the following links:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Anne-Baxter-Campbell/e/B00G7RTTDO