A MAN AT ARMS: a thriller of faith and warfare that is the highlight of the year so far.

Posted: January 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

Sometimes, I go ahead and just do things. And a little while ago, I did one of those things, which led to the most unexpected addition to my bookshelf of all time.

Namely, I wrote to bestselling author Steven Pressfield, famous for works like „The Gates of Fire”, which deal with the warriors of ages long gone by, and expressed my interest in and enthusiasm about his upcoming novel, A MAN AT ARMS, which marks the return to the ancient world that fans were probably awaiting with bated breath, and told him of my interest in said novel, saying that I would purchase it once it comes out. And Mr. Pressfield blew me out of the water by agreeing to send me an ARC. When I got the package and saw that there were two, I was stunned for a couple minutes!

The thing that caught my attention about the book is that its story is deeply concerned with the early Christian church and the Epistle of Apostle Paul to the Corinthians, one of the cornerstones of Christian creed.

What Mr. Pressfield has managed to do here, with this new book, is to create a thriller of the ancient world, with a Christian element at the very center something that I have rarely had the chance to read.

Meet Telamon. He is a mercenary. A sword-for-hire, a cold-blooded cutthroat who will end the life of anyone for the right price. He worships no gods, follows no leaders. To him, it is all about the cold, hard, cash. Side note: I understand that Telamon shows up as a minor character in other novels by Mr. Pressfield, and that he is some sort of prototype for the Universal Soldier. One does not have to be acquainted with his previous appearances, however, to understand both the story as a whole and the nature of Telamon.

Telamon has a mission. A mission from the Roman commander of the Jerusalem garrison, Marcus Severus Pertinax. To find and eliminate the courier that carries a text that is considered the most dangerous piece of writing of all time by the Romans: the Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, famous for its definition of love, herein referred to as „charity”, per the King James version of the Bible. When he meets the courier, a certain Michael, „the most dangerous man in Palestine”, and his young protege, Ruth, a mute girl, there is a sudden change of heart, although he knows that if he fails, crucifixion awaits him.

The novel has a breakneck pace from start to finish. This is one of those thrillrides that never lets go of the reader, and in this regard, it reads like what would happen if a classic like Ben-Hur got the action-packed blockbuster treatment. Reading the descriptions of Telamon fighting Arabs, Jews and Romans alike will turn the pages at a blistering rate. There is also a witch, who I would LOVE to see portrayed by Helena Bonham-Carter if this thrilling tale ever gets adapted as a film, which it totally should, plenty of violence,but also a lot of bonding moments between characters. The relationship between Telamon and David, his young Jewish apprentice, the bond with Ruth, and especially his dialogue with Michael concerning the nature of Jesus, give readers looking for some heart in the story plenty to enjoy. I, for one, am super-honored to have been selected to read this book in advance, especially given the fact that I am the first in my neck of the woods to have done so. I was super-pleasantly surprised to discover that a bestselling author known for his novels of ancient warfare was interested in the early Christian era, and when I was told I would get an ARC, I found it the greatest blessing in my existence as a historical fiction enthusiast.

A thrill-a-minute novel with characters one grows to care about, a vivid, cinematic exploration of a brutal, yet mesmerizing time period, A MAN AT ARMS will please those who enjoy historical thrillers, and Christians as well. I am super-thankful for the tremendous honor of having read it in advance, signed by the author, to whom I will forever be grateful, and I give it a solid ten out of five. Thank you, Mr. Pressfield! This Romanian nerd will always be grateful to you! And by the way, you urged me not to skip to the ending, and I urge other readers not to as well! Because it will blow you out of the water, especially if you are a Christian!

PS: I would LOVE to see you tackle the story of Barabbas, the zealot freed instead of Jesus on Good Friday. To me, A MAN AT ARMS proved that you definitely understand the time period, and how people thought back then. I would be super-thrilled to read your take on why a man of violence was spared instead of one who taught compassion and love for enemies. But, of course, this is just a friendly, if daring, suggestion, from an eternally grateful fan! Ten stars out of five for this top-notch thriller with a heart!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s