Thursday, September 2, 2010

Review: Valeria's Cross

Summary:In the 3rd century, pampered Roman princess Valeria falls in love with Mauritius, captain of the Theban Legion. She sends him off to battle, where he suffers under the schemes of a notorious pagan general with an ambition for power and a lust for Valeria. In a scene based on true events, the evil Galerius kills Mauritius and his entire legion for their Christian faith. And in a shocking turn of events, the grieving Valeria is forced to become Galerius’ wife against her will. Never has a marriage been set up for such failure. Valeria loathes her new husband, but he seems to undergo a change of heart, adopting a child for her and giving her power and authority, and even love. She struggles with the commitment she knows she must keep, and the love she knows she will never find again. -- Abingdon Press

I am one of those geeks who took Latin by choice in high school. And one of my favorite parts of class was learning about ancient Rome and its history. So when I read the description for VALERIA'S CROSS by Kathi Macias and Susan Wales, it sounded like a book that I'd enjoy. (Plus, I have been trying to read more Christian fiction!)

I have to say that I enjoyed VALERIA'S CROSS, but I don't think I'd go so far as to say that I loved it. It was a good book that I found very interesting and I would recommend it to people who enjoy Roman history, but it just didn't reach that next level for me. There was nothing inherently lacking in this novel, but on the same note, there wasn't anything that made it really special for me either.

I liked the character of Valeria and thought she was filled with so much passion -- both for her love of Christ along with life in general. I appreciated how strong Valeria had to be to choose Christianity against the wishes of her father the Emperor, and I liked how the authors portrayed Valeria as having doubts about God's will because of the many trials she faced in her life. In addition, I felt as if the authors did a very good job showing Valeria's desperate desire to be a mother, and I actually could feel her pain.

While I did really like Valeria, I had some issues with her character because she didn't always seem consistent to me. I realize that she was a very complex woman, but I thought some of her behavior just didn't ring true (especially her feelings towards her husband.) I tried to keep in perspective while reading this novel that times were very different as were women's roles in society, but I don't know if that always explained it to me.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this novel were the historical aspects of the story. I love, love, love books about Rome, and I can say that I learned a great deal about this time period while reading VALERIA'S CROSS. At times, the book almost read like a true story and I admit to being fascinated about the early Christians and their strong convictions.

VALERIA'S CROSS would make an interesting selection for book groups who enjoy reading Christian fiction. I think there is a great deal to discuss in this book about faith and religion as well as a very interesting time in history. There is even a reading guide in the back of the book with twelve questions. Some of the topics for discussion include the strength of women, mother/daughter relationships, betrayal, faith, morality, and loyalty.

I recommend VALERIA'S CROSS if you are like me and love learning about ancient Rome or if you are interested in early Christianity.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

Oh, I wish I had taken Latin in school! I think it really gives you an advantage with words. Interesting review of the book - it sounds like a topic that has lots of potential, especially since you don't see much from that time period from the point of view of the women!

Beth F said...

I too love all things Rome. I attribute my fascination to my sixth-grade teacher who taught an amazing unit on the Roman empire.

I, however, took French ...

Meghan said...

Latin is actually a fantastic language to study - it's the perfect base to understand more about English and makes it easier to learn lots of other different lanugages. Can you tell I took it too? ;)

This sounds okay. When I next venture into Christian fiction, I think I'll pick something like this.

Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

bermudaonion said...

I never realized just how geeky you really are! LOL I love Rome too, but I'm not sure this book is for me since I don't read a lot of Christian fiction.

Jessica (The Bluestocking Society) said...

I'd be more interested in the ancient Rome aspect of this than the religious aspect, but it sounds like a good read.

Amy said...

This book sounds fascinating in terms of the things told about Rome during the time period of the story. The settings and historical period is always my favorite part of historical fiction, the characters, not so much. The ones in this book sound a little nutty and confused!

I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I love the cover with the rich red and the gold. Thanks for another terrific review, Julie. I'll be sure to check this book out!

~ Amy