Review by Christine Dillon @StoryTellerChristine
In the last two years I have read a lot of Christian fiction. One of my concerns has been the lack of good books for teenage boys and young men. This is one author who writes for this audience. Prior to this book he has written a previous series of four. Maki has degrees in journalism and history and it shows. I spotted his work as I was involved in the ACFW critiques loop and immediately wrote to him. His historical research is excellent and I was never once torn out of the story by anachronisms.
This a a novel about the Roman guard who was chained to the apostle Paul. The first part of the book gives the background to Quintus. The official blurb says:
As a boy, he dared to fight Nero. Worse, he won.
Stripped of his family, the love of his life, and his self-respect, he sets out on a quest to win a victor's crown, rescue his parents, and restore his family's honor. But his path to glory in the restless province of Judaea is threatened by the corrupt governor Felix, the murderous priest Melechi, and most of all by the rabble-rousing Paul of Tarsus.
When Quintus finds himself in Rome chained to Paul all hope of a crown seems lost, but Paul's example makes him question the true meaning of success. And why does Jael, the mysterious young Jewess who once saved his life, now respond with barely restrained flashes of hate?
And for those of you who like romance, there is some there but it is not the main thing on the menu.
The Romans took her father and her brother from her.
Now Jael vows to fight for her father's faith, fulfill her brother's oath, and avenge their deaths. But the further she travels with Paul and Quintus the more she feels torn. Can she follow her heart and still keep her vow?
One of the best things about this book was that it isn’t really about a traditional hero. Quintus is a man who fails to meet most of his life goals. I loved the realism of the story. The Roman empire was a great place for strong and clever men who happened to be rich and have the right connections. If you didn’t have these things, it was a tough place. It was even tougher if you had a powerful, vindictive enemy who kept blocking your future.
Midway through the book we meet Paul. Maki obviously loves God’s word and doesn’t twist it to suit his story. He sticks with the things that we know from the New Testament but expands his story realistically into the many gaps. I particularly enjoyed the shipwreck and follow-up to that.
I rate A The Keeper's Crown at 4.5 stars.
A historical novel of great power. For lovers of Roman era stories in the vein of Francine River’s ‘Mark of the Lion’ or Tessa Afshar’s ‘Land of Silence’.
I look forward to more of Maki’s work.
About Christine Dillon
Christine never intended to become an author. The only kind of writing she wondered if she might do was biography. However, it was a surprise to her to write poetry, non-fiction, and now, fiction.
Christine was a physiotherapist but now she writes ‘storyteller’ on any airport forms. She can legitimately claim to be this as she has written a book on storytelling and spends much of her time either telling Bible stories or training others to do so from her base in southern Taiwan.
In her spare time Christine loves all things active – hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkeling. But she also likes reading and genealogical research, as that satisfies her desire to be an historical detective.
You can find Christine online at: