“A Voice in the Wind” by Francine Rivers
5 out of 5 stars.
A Voice in the Wind is the first book in the Mark of the Lion trilogy. Now, I know that most of the books that I have put up on this blog are all pretty much rated in the fours and fives, but A Voice in the Wind is one of those amazing books that really is a living, breathing story that deserves far more than five stars can give. Francine Rivers created a novel that does not seem like it is just a piece of historical fiction, but that it was someone’s story. While reading A Voice in the Wind, I felt as if I was transported back to the early life of the Christian church within the hostile Roman Empire. In my opinion, not many authors can successfully take their readers into the past, even to the point where they feel as if they lived another life in that time—Francine did, though. In every aspect, Francine Rivers created an entirely new world for a reader to explore. The history woven throughout the book is accurate and descriptive without being too much, and the character development is absolutely phenomenal, depicting the cultural differences and similarities between our era and theirs. It is also interesting how Mrs. Rivers made you love and hate certain characters, whether it be because of their morals, or lack thereof, and how some of them treat other human beings as lower than themselves just because they had more money, or were free instead of slave. Francine Rivers really makes you wonder who you would be if you lived in the ancient world of the great and mighty Roman Empire, who or what would you be a slave to if you were there instead of them? Would you have been a slave to yourself because of your wants and desires? Would you have been a slave to others, or what you believed to be true, though it might have been false? Could there have been something that was good to be a slave to, and what would destroy you if you had been a slave to it? Can being a slave to the love of God make you freer than those who may be free physically, but a slave to their own desires? This masterfully crafted novel will have you thirsting for more, so much more.
Hadassah is a young girl, only fourteen or fifteen, when A Voice in the Wind commences. Her story begins during the Roman siege of Jerusalem; Hadassah and her family have traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem for the Jewish Passover, as they have each previous year. But unbeknownst to them, Jerusalem is on unstable ground with Rome, and within a short period after their arrival, Jerusalem is attacked by the infamous Roman legionnaires. Hadassah’s family is torn apart as the Roman siege wears on, taking member by member from the young and frightened Jewish girl. Hadassah’s father disappears, never to be seen or heard from again after he tries to talk to other Jews about Christ. Her mother and little sister die of starvation, and her older brother dies at the hands of a Roman legionnaire. She finds herself alone and feels forsaken by the God she thought was always supposed to be there; her life is spared, but she is delivered into the hands of the very thing that took her family from her: Rome. Hadassah is then bound as a slave and shipped straight into the heart of the city.
Marcus Valerian is the iconic bad boy. He takes what he wants from whomever he wants, whenever he desires to do so. Marcus has everything a person could ever want: wealth, the favor of man, beautiful women who are always vying for his attentions, a successful business, and good-looks. Marcus Valerian believes he has it all until one day, a plain, little Jewish girl arrives at Decimus Valerian’s villa in Rome. Marcus does not understand why his father would waste a single denarius on the pathetic Jew! But he soon realizes that Hadassah is different from any other woman he has ever met and will ever meet. Marcus is intrigued by her quiet spirit and faithful dedication as a slave to the Valerian household. What is it that the little Jewish girl has that Marcus does not? As the book progresses, Marcus Valerian feels that if he cannot have Hadassah, he will always be missing something in his nearly “complete” life. Little does Marcus know that the quality he finds so beautiful about her is the One who asks him to surrender the vain things he holds dear, and he will never yield!
Julia Valerian is the spoiled, and demanding younger sister of Marcus. Being the baby of the family and the only other surviving child of Decimus and Phoebe Valerian, she is spoiled rotten. What Julia wants, Julia gets, whether it be by her doting older brother or by her wealthy parents. When Julia’s mother, Phoebe, gives her an ugly Jewish maid named Hadassah, she is livid. She had wanted a pretty and smart girl for a maid, not an ugly Jewish slave! But much to Julia’s mother’s delight, Hadassah begins to grows on Julia, however much a slave can, and she is very patient with the demanding Roman girl. No one can do as much for her as Hadassah can, and the young Jewish girl pleases her mistress with wonderful, but “untrue,” stories from her homeland. But poor Hadassah is put to the test when Decimus Valerian decides to marry Julia off to a stable, but much older, man in the hopes that when she marries, Julia will become more tame. As expected, Julia despises the match. Eventually, she is forced into it, since Roman women have little freedom of choice, and Hadassah travels to the new villa with her mistress. Although her husband is kind, Julia hates him and her father for what they forced her into. She pushes the limits to get what she wants and in the process, inadvertently causes the death of her husband. To what lengths will Julia go to fulfill her own desires, even if it costs others’ their lives? And what about the Apollo-like gladiator, Atretes? Can she have him all to herself, too?
Atretes is a barbarian in Rome’s estimation, and is worth nothing more than an interesting show. After being captured by a Roman legion in his beloved Germania, Atretes is bound for the heart of the infamous Rome he has been fighting against. Ahhh, the irony of life is that he is now to become their plaything and is to fight for Roman entertainment! Atretes despises the disgusting Roman pigs, but has no control over his fate as a gladiator. He fights to survive and to “please” the Roman populace. The fierce German has won many fights as a gladiator and has survived much longer than his more experienced opponents, but he is haunted by the faces of the men he has slaughtered. After he becomes the favorite of the Roman crowd and angers a close friend of Domitian, son of the Emperor, Atretes is shipped off to Ephesus. But not before the beautiful and not-so-innocent sister of Marcus Valerian catches his eye. Can he and Julia have a future together? Or will they destroy one another?
Francine Rivers ends her book with a heart-wrenching final scene that will take your breath away and make you shed a few tears. I was awestruck by how beautifully this story was written. A Voice in the Wind is riveting from page one, and kept me entranced even beyond the last page. What is going to happen to Marcus? Where is Atretes going with his life? Will Julia ever change her ways? Read A Voice in the Wind and see for yourself how each person’s life unfolds before you.
P.S. Have An Echo in the Darkness close by you. Once you read A Voice in the Wind, you are really going to want to read its conclusion!