Bryan Litfin writes a daring tale of the early Christian church entering an era of political acceptance for the first time. As Constantine plans to march on Rome with his new found faith, the book follows the story Junia Flavia, of a senator’s daughter thrown to the area for her faith and Brandulf Rex an elite warrior and spy for Constantine. Book 1 of the new Constantine’s Empire series The Conqueror embodies the tumultuous and flagrant culture of Rome. This is an intense account of the early Church in 300 C.E. The plot is rich with political intrigue, religious rivalries, betrayal, romance and danger.
Lady Flavia represents the many Christians who sacrificed all to serve Christ and stay true to the faith. Bold, tenacious and full of spirit the heroine has to choose between her dreams and her faith. Flavia’s character flaw is the weakness of her faith. While she is loyal to the Church her faith is immature and she acts rashly out of loyalty instead of listening and following the Lord’s leading.
In contrast, Brandulf Rex is not committed to any one faith, but fights for his own interpretation of justice. Impulsive and prideful, Rex embodies the spirit of The Conqueror. His weakness is his loyalty as he blindly trusts those he is loyal to causing serious error in his judgment of character.
Themes of justice, faith, and values are woven throughout the story and are represented in extremes by the different rulers. Maxentius and Constantine stand juxtaposed. Maxentius represents the pagan religions of Rome with it’s pride, entitlement, decadence and injustice. Constantine representing the new faith of Christ with humility, tenacity, justice and conservative values.
The Conqueror is a wonderful book full of rich characters and themes. I eagerly await Bryan Litfin’s next novel.