Happy Saturday everyone! Today I want to share a book with you that I found roaming on the galley websites. Maximus by debut author Robert L. Black tells the story of Christ through the eyes of a Roman soldier. Really it’s an interesting take on the crucifixion and just in time for Easter! If you enjoy historical fiction, as you all know I do 😉 than I highly recommend you go grab a copy.
I received this book via Edelweiss, Netgalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of this review.Maximus by Richard L. Black
Published by Shadow Mountain on 2015-03-03
Length: 464 pages
Reviewing eARC from Edelweiss, Netgalley
Maximus has never known peace. In command of one of Rome's finest legions, he and his closest friend, Androcles, have fought side by side to uphold the glory of the empire.
But at the end of a long and bloody campaign, Maximus begins to question his purpose, his past, and the gods he has been taught to believe in.
When word reaches Rome of a man named Jesus who is causing a stir in faraway Judaea, Maximus and Androcles are sent, disguised as Jews, to ascertain the truth of the situation: Is this Jesus merely a radical preacher, or is he instigating a revolution against Rome?
As Maximus immerses himself in Jewish culture, he must confront questions that could change his life: Is it possible this carpenter from Nazareth is the Son of God? Is it possible for a man of war to live a life of peace?
Hmmm….this story had SO much potential but it just didn’t cut it for me. Maybe I expected too much? I was really excited to read Maximus by Robert L. Black. From the moment I saw the cover and then read the synopsis I thought “This book will be awesome!” Sadly it wasn’t.
Maximus follows the story of a Roman general – the book’s namesake – sent to investigate the claims of Pontius Pilate in Judaea about a Jewish rabbi claiming to be the long awaited messiah. Maximus takes his deputy commander Androcles with him and together they disguise themselves as Jews, learn the customs and find themselves following Christ.
Maximus is an interesting, yet flat character. He is a high-ranking Roman general, unhappy with his gods and the continuous fighting of Rome. When offered this campaign of spying, very different from leading men on the battlefield, he accepts immediately though not without reservations. Taking his best friend with him, the reader gets a glimpse into the transformation of the two soldiers as they take on their roles as Jews.
The story doesn’t just follow them though. It also follows Liora and her family as they become disciples of Jesus, believing him the prophesied Messiah. I like Liora and I can relate to her. She is kind-hearted, speaks her mind, yet loves her family with a devotion that anyone can see. It’s no wonder when the two Romans disguised as Jews show up they fall in love with them.
The plot is pretty self-explanatory as Maximus and Androcles first travel to Judaea and then search for this Jewish rabbi. My problem with this is that it was poorly executed. There is A LOT of three/four word sentences that describe every detail, but not a lot of actual witnessing of Christ. There is a secondary plot where the two Roman soldiers fall in love with two Jewish girls, which while good drew attention away from the ultimate goal of following Jesus.
Maybe I’m being too critical, but when the synopsis says this is a story about Jesus as told through the eyes of a Roman soldier, I expected more Jesus and less of everything else. Instead the reader is given glimpses of Jesus and then nothing more is really mentioned until the very end when the crucifixion occurs. The resurrection is only mentioned in passing during the two page epilogue, which I was shocked since this is a redemption/salvation story as the Roman soldiers come to know the one true God.
I had a really hard time following the story because of multiple, MULTIPLE points of view. I like a lot of points of view, however as one reviewer described it “head-hopping” is not my thing. It was like every other page was a different character and I had a hard time connecting to any of them or understanding their motives.
Overall, the book itself was just okay for me. I had a hard time following with the multiple points of view. I felt like the romance of the story distracted me from the redemptive parts. Don’t get me wrong the book had its moments, otherwise I wouldn’t give it three stars. I feel that I should also note that I read an advanced, unedited copy of the book. That being said I hope that some of the “head-hopping” and basic, descriptive sentences were edited to flow better. I do plan to get a copy and find out.
If you enjoy historical fiction, Christian literature I think you’ll enjoy the book. Despite it’s flaws, I still found it enjoyable and I rooted for the characters in the end. My only wish was that the Christian aspects of the book would have stood out more.