“How can we be witnesses of the one true God if we hold the truth as our own possession? God meant his truth for the world.”
Synopsis from Goodreads: The first book in the bestselling Mark of the Lion series, A Voice in the Wind brings readers back to the first century and introduces them to a character they will never forget—Hadassah. Torn by her love for a handsome aristocrat, this young slave girl clings to her faith in the living God for deliverance from the forces of decadent Rome.
Feelings: YOU GUYS. This is one of my favorite books ever, ever and this is the third time I’ve read it. This time around, it was different. Different “good” because I’m in a new different season of life than I was when I read it in college, so I had new takeaways from it. Different “bad” because since I’ve been reviewing books consistently for the last year, I read this with a more critical eye. I saw some flaws that I’d never seen before. But honestly, it doesn’t affect my love for this story.
If you’ve ever studied Roman history, then you know how lost the city was and the spiritual devastation. This book talks about the hard stuff, so be prepared for that. It isn’t sweet Amish or prairie Christian fiction (both of which I’ve read and loved), but it is very real and unfortunately very current with our world today. It’ll probably make you uncomfortable, which I think is a positive thing. There’s a lot about sexual desires and feelings, but they’re presented in a matter-of-fact kind of way. Francine Rivers isn’t trying to get you to feel anything. I know a lot of people who read Christian fiction don’t want to read about that, but it’s a reality. The beginning chapters are really dense, as we get a lot of historical context, name dropping, and bloody scenes. Stay with it, though. You won’t regret it.
Issues: Ughh…why God? Why do I have issues with this beloved book?
The point-of-view switches back and forth all the time, which was hard to follow in a few places. I had to go back and think for a second about who’s head I was now in…then I carried on. Also, I realized about halfway through that a lot of time had gone by and I had no idea how much. A little more context regarding time passing would have been nice.
Characters: If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 29,583 times…it’s going to take a lot of work for my husband to convince me not to name our first daughter Hadassah. After reading this book, I see that name and it fills me with so much joy, hope, and some serious peace. In the beginning, Hadassah is timid and terrified, but on the final pages, she’s something fiercely different. She goes through emotions and questions that we all experience, even a few years after this story is set. Her faith has greatly affected my own.
The Valerian family goes through a dozen and a half changes throughout this book from Decimus’s health to Julia’s marriage(s) to Marcus’s affections to Phoebe’s questioning. So much heartbreak and hope and uncertainty all rolled into one. I felt for all of them at different parts of the book, and was equally frustrated with them in others. I feel like Julia and Marcus kind of switched places by the time the book had ended. In the beginning, Julia was light and Marcus was caught up in darkness, but then they started to switch. Marcus is still in some serious darkness at the end of the book, but it’s different from before. He’s the main reason I want to pick up the second book as soon as I finish typing this review out.
Atretes! You barbarian conundrum, you. If I remember correctly, his character development really takes place in the third book of this series. In this book, though, he goes through SO MUCH and by the grace of God alone is still alive on the last page…somehow. No spoilers (and I honestly don’t even remember what ends up happening to him in later books) but I’m really wanting to know how his life turns out. I’m rooting for you, brother…but not like they rooted for you in the arena. Yikes.
Final thoughts: I have so much respect for Francine Rivers. Her books always tackle a myriad of issues and she does it in such a tasteful way. This book in particular covers slavery, suicide, rape, murder, bitterness, lying, fame and fortune, abuse, eating disorders, abortions, and more. It’s a heavy read in one sense, but the hope and joy mixed in as Hadassah shares her truth balances it out.
I highly recommend you purchase the box set of this trilogy before you even open up the first book. Because you’re going to want to jump right into An Echo in the Darkness when this one ends!
Pick this up if you liked:
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (same author, historical fiction, same truths)
A Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers (same author, Biblical times, insight into women of the Bible)
Goodreads rating: 4.6/5
Amazon.com rating: 4.7/5
My rating: 5/5
Happy reading! – Caitlyn