Lucius: A Soldier’s Journey

We rated this book:


Lucius is probably exactly what observant readers would expect it to be. A novel set in the Roman Empire written by a priest will certainly touch on religious themes, and as soon as I saw Pontius Pilate mentioned, I was almost positive the protagonist would meet Jesus at some point. This isn’t a simple story of a heathen being converted to Christianity, however. Instead, Lavery takes us on a different path.

The main surprise to me was that from the beginning, Lucius is no ordinary Roman soldier. He is a centurion (in fact, one mentioned in the Bible) but he starts the book morally opposed to militaristic expansion for the sake of expansion. He also refuses to keep slaves but instead has paid servants who consider themselves part of his family. He treats them well and insists those around him do likewise.

With Lucius already halfway to being a paragon of Christianity (and hardly a sign of him worshipping the Roman gods), it was hard to see where his character might go by the end. In fact, it felt like there was little growth for anyone except minor characters in the book, and even that happened mainly off the page, with readers told what happened to change their minds after the fact. That combined with the long chapters at times made the book a slog to get through.

I will admit that I’m likely not part of the target audience for this book. A Christian man, particularly one who already enjoys first century Roman history, may well find the book more enjoyable. There were compelling moments sprinkled throughout, and the ideal reader will likely find the ending inspiring.

What I found most enjoyable about the book was how Lavery brought the world to life. Through little details like food and landscapes, I felt immersed in the setting, if not always the story. There were also little nods to the Gospels throughout, even if one of them was different from what I remembered. I couldn’t tell whether it was because the two of us come from different traditions or he changed it to better suit his story. The former I wouldn’t mind, but at first I assumed the latter, which I found irritating.

This is a book which has a readymade audience: Christian men who are inspired by or enjoy evangelical tales. I don’t think it would offer much enjoyment to people outside that niche.

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Star Count 3/5
Format Trade
Page Count 380 pages
Publisher Christian Faith Publishing, Inc
Publish Date 15-Sep-2022
ISBN 9781685170783 Buy this Book
Issue July 2023
Category Historical Fiction