Publisher and Publication Date: BookLocker. December 9, 2020.
Genre: Historical fiction. Mystery. Romance.
Format: Pdf copy.
Source: I received a complimentary pdf copy from The Coffee Pot Book Club. I am not required to write a positive review.
Audience: Readers of historical fiction.
Rating: Very good.
About the Author:
Cynthia Ripley Miller is a first generation Italian-American writer with a love for history, languages, and books. She has lived in Europe and traveled world-wide, holds two degrees, and taught history and English. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthology Summer Tapestry, at Orchard Press Mysteries.com, and The Scriptor. She is a Chanticleer International Chatelaine Award finalist with awards from Circle of Books-Rings of Honor and The Coffee Pot Book Club. She has reviewed for UNRV Roman History, and blogs at Historical Happenings and Oddities: A Distant Focus and on her website, www.cynthiaripleymiller.com
Cynthia is the author of On the Edge of Sunrise, The Quest for the Crown of Thorns, and A Sword Among Ravens, books 1-3 in her Long-Hair Saga series set in Late Ancient Rome, France, and Jerusalem. Cynthia lives outside of Chicago with her family, along with a cute but bossy cat.
Social Media Links:
Website • Facebook • Twitter • Pinterest • Amazon • Goodreads
In a grave, on the edge of a Roman battlefield, an ancient sword has been discovered. Legend claims it belonged to King David of Israel and carries a curse—those who wield it will tragically die—but not the chosen. AD 455. Arria Felix and her husband, Garic the Frank, have safely delivered a sacred relic to Emperor Marcian in Constantinople. But now, Arria and Garic will accept a new mission. The emperor has asked them to carry the sword of King David of Israel to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem where Arria will dedicate it in her murdered father’s memory. As Arria and Garic travel into the heart of the Holy Land, they face many challenges and dangers. Their young daughter is missing then found in the company of a strange and suspicious old monk. A brutal killer stalks their path. And a band of cold-blooded thieves is determined to steal the sword for their own gains. But when Arria confronts the question of where the sword should truly rest—old friendships, loyalties, and her duty are put to the test like never before. At every turn, Arria and Garic find themselves caught in a treacherous mission wrapped in mystery, murder, and A Sword Among Ravens.
I felt drawn to read this book because I am a Christian and enjoy reading early Christian history. I also enjoy reading stories about the Roman Empire. The time period for this story is the late period of the Roman Empire (27 B.C. to 476 A.D.) It is the early part of the Byzantine Empire (330 A.D. to 1453 A.D.)
Several things I love about this story:
1. “The Author’s Note” shares helpful information about Roman names for the months and days; and background information of the “Places” and “Points of Interest.” I love the websites that are included to read further history. I believe it is important for an author to share at least a little about what they’ve learned during the process of writing a book. Miller has shared in brief her research.
2. The female lead character is Arria. She is an intelligent, wise, and capable person. She is respected and admired by all except one family member. Arria is a character who I admire because she already has positive traits, but she continues to develop as a strong person and leader.
3. The object of every character’s interest is the sword of David. Some characters are out for their own agenda. Arria genuinely cares about doing the right thing. She and Garic make a commitment to the emperor. Their mission sets in motion a busy story with other characters who come in to play. I love the form and direction of the story. I love the plot. I love the conflicts in the story. The conflicts are both internal and external. I love the mystery of the sword.
4. The violence is graphic. This is a violent culture. Roman soldiers and the Huns were barbaric in their fighting and torture. It is important to depict the reality of the time period. I believe Miller has achieved this.
5. I enjoyed reading about the descriptions of historical places.
What is passable in the story is the romance of two couples. I’m not moved by either pair. I like to read about tender affection in a loving couple. Affection is not necessarily sex. Sex is one form of affection but there are other forms.
What I didn’t like about this story:
1. When “He” or Nemesis is suddenly introduced I felt completely lost. Who is this person? Why does he matter in the story? Is he actually another character but going by a different name? It took a while but his purpose is revealed.
Themes in the story: courage, death and dying, revenge, love, honor, marriage, ambition, and loyalty.