I tend not to read fiction. I usually find novels frustrating and to be frank, I do not want to do the work of having to plough through 10, 20 or 30 pages ‘getting into’ a novel. When I do read fiction it is always a historical novel – but even then, with the best of writers, I usually give up fairly quickly.
Which is why Taylor Marshall’s trilogy has been so surprising for me. His first two books, The Sword and Serpent and The Tenth Region of the Night were the first novels I read through in their entirety in many years. And the third book, Storm of Fire and Blood, is no different. These books have captivated me and I hope that Taylor Marshall will continue to write such stories in the years to come.
Set in the early church period of the fourth century, Storm of Fire and Blood does not just have a captivating story which grabs you from the opening lines; or wonderfully rich and engaging dialogue which often has a delightfully humorous undertone; or complex and deep characters with whom you will feel the full gambit of emotions, joy and laughter, frustration and anger. Most remarkably, Marshall takes you into the life of the fourth century. You feel yourself walking in the cold of Britannia or experiencing the smell of the fish in the docks of Myra. You are drawn into this incredible yet deadly world of the Roman Empire and the early Church. This is truly historical fiction – in the midst of an entertaining and gripping story you are engaging with and learning about the real people of this period.
Storm of Fire and Blood follows the exploits of Jurian / Georgius and his friends Agapius, Menas and Sabra and their adversary Casca. Marshall does a wonderful job weaving multiple stories together from Jurian in Britannia to Sabra in Cyrene to Casca their nemesis. The backdrop of the story is spiritual warfare. The Emperor Diocletian is about to unleash persecution upon the church but underlying the physical persecution is the spiritual evil of the enemy who hates those who profess Christ as Lord. How does the Church of Christ stand in the face of evil and persecution, danger and death? This is the core of the story – and in the answer you will see bravery, deep faith and trust in God even in the midst of overwhelming opposition. And oh my, the ending will leave you stunned.
Finally, I want to mention Nikolaos. He is one of my favorite characters in the book. Nikolaos is mysterious. He appears just as people need him. He is peaceful, he is joyful, he is generous and he loves and trusts the Lord Jesus even when in danger. He is a true Saint and this character radiates peace. Whenever he appears in the book I would physically become peaceful.
As a pastor of an Anglican Congregation I have frequently recommended to my congregation the previous two books in this series – and Storm of Fire and Blood will be no different. A perfect Christmas present.