Monday, March 7, 2016

The Lion and the Cross by Joan Lesley Hamilton

The man who would become Ireland’s beloved patron saint confronts his destiny during the tumultuous Dark Ages in this vibrant, enthralling novel

In 410 CE, arrogant sixteen-year-old Magonus Sucatus Patricius denounces Christianity as a religion for cowards when the Roman legions withdraw, leaving Britain vulnerable to raiders from the west. Determined to wield a sword despite being the grandson of a priest, the affluent young man is taken captive by barbarians and sold into slavery to a cruel Irish king. On a mountaintop in Eire, a shepherd strips him of his grand Roman name and calls him Padraic, marking him a man of no consequence. Set against the magnificent backdrop of ancient Ireland and based on available historical facts, Saint Patrick's Confession, and Celtic myth, this gripping novel follows Patrick as he finds his faith while fighting to escape bondage in Eire. Friendship with a king, love for a queen, and enmity with the druids who fear his God will embroil him in a civil war in a land from which he will struggle to flee—only to be called to return.

Just in time for Saint Patrick's day, this is a great book to read! It is his life's story as he himself would narrate it. The book is written in such a way that as a reader, I neither liked nor disliked him. The spoiled son of a wealthy nobleman, Padraic often comes across as spoiled, arrogant, and full of himself. And that's what I liked most about this book - the characters were very real and not depicted too villainous or two beloved. 

In his early years, Padraic was an atheist. When barbarians arrived to destroy his village, he was taken as a slave. This sets him on the path of quite a spiritual and physical adventure. The pace of the novel is on the slow side, but I think this is necessary so the reader can get an accurate understanding of all he endured to arrive at his level of spiritualist. And although I could not find myself liking Padraic, I did find the book a clear reflection of the tumultuous times he lived in. At times, the prose was a little challenging, and at others it read smoothly. Most important of all, it is a good accounting of Saint Padraic's life and times.   

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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