What Rough Beast

Would you deny your faith if someone held a gun to your head? No? What if someone held a gun to the head of your husband or wife or child? Not quite as easy, is it?

Shawn J. Pollett, award-winning author of Christianus Sum, is back with the second book in his Cry of the Martyrs trilogy, once again making his readers question their determination and sincerity in a way that we all need to do once in awhile.

In A.D. 253, Julius Valens and Damarra anticipate the birth of their first child, but their household and the church are in conflict over how to deal with the lapsi, those who denied Christ to avoid execution during the recently ended persecution. Their relative peace shatters when they learn that Valerianus—the man who sought to kill them—has become emperor of Rome.

Valerianus’ son and co-emperor, Gallienus, promises Damarra (his half-sister) that he will protect them, but Valerianus’ subterfuge soon convinces him that Christians are once again a threat. Valens and Damarra attempt to escape to Germania, not realizing that a traitor lurks in their midst waiting for a chance to turn them over to Valerianus.

Fans of Christianus Sum won’t be disappointed. Pollett once again brings to life history and the bitter struggle of staying true to your faith regardless of the consequences. For those of us who currently live in North America and can go to church and write blogs like this one without fear, he also gives us a peek into what Christians are still going through in other parts of the world.

My one major critique is that Pollett falls back on deus ex machina at times to get the characters out of trouble. I have no problem with the occasional Christian novel containing a single, well-placed, carefully chosen miracle, but I draw the line at characters turning invisible so that the enemy army runs right through them.

Still, expect to see What Rough Beast as a finalist at next year’s Canadian Christian Writing Awards.

What Rough Beast by Shawn J. Pollett

Published by Word Alive Press

For more information on persecuted Christians in our time, please visit Voice of the Martyrs.