Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Robe

The Robe: The Story of the Soldier Who Tossed for Christ's Robe and Won
The Robe was a powerful read. It tells the story of the robe worn by Christ to his crucifixion, and the Roman soldier who diced for it and won. But it's so much more, as well. This is nothing less than a look at faith, and the early days of the Christian church, as seen through the eyes of a Roman tribune. And not just any Roman tribune- Marcellus was actually tasked with crucifying Jesus. To say it changes his life would be a great understatement. 

Marcellus is the son of a wealthy senator and seemingly has a bright future ahead of him. He's privileged but he's also a good man- honorable, a good swordsman, loyal. He gets himself into trouble though when he makes an impolitic comment at a banquet to Gaius, the Prince Regent of Rome. Sent off to a dusty outpost in Palestine to rot, he becomes part of the contingent that crucifies Jesus. After winning Christ's robe in a wager, he finds his life changed not only by the garment, but by the tireless faith and amazing stories of the men and women who followed Jesus, and knew him well.   

This novel is told from a Roman perspective, and whether you're a Christian or not, it's fascinating to see how early Christianity, and indeed Jewish traditions of the early first century  might look through a Roman lens. Marcellus initially has no interest in a cult springing up around a dead man, and even though the crucifixion weighed on him heavily- he felt Jesus was innocent- he is very resistant to any hint of supernatural significance. Nevertheless the robe affects him greatly, sending him into despair and depression, which eventually lifts due to once again being in proximity with the homespun garment, and from there Marcellus investigates this nascent religion more closely, traveling to the Holy Land again and meeting figures from the New Testament. 

Marcellus is a very interesting character and along with his perspective we also get the POV of his slave Demetrius and his lover Diana. Demetrius is very close to Marcellus, notwithstanding their master/ slave relationship, and they have many adventures, both singly and together, as they trudge the dusty lands of Palestine, or spend time together in Greece learning more about Christ. Demetrius becomes a Christian over the course of the story, and is a true friend to Marcellus, as well as Diana. Not only do we get a look at the early Christians, struggling to grow their new religion in the midst of a hostile Roman empire, but we also get a look at how slavery operated within that empire, and how Demetrius can be a friend to his master even as his freedom is taken. 

Diana, meanwhile, is a childhood acquaintance of Marcellus' who falls in love with him, and he falls for her also. Their love is tested, however, as she must endure the attentions of the current emperor, who sends Marcellus off to learn more about Christianity, but doesn't much like what Marcellus finds. It was also fascinating to see how the author approached the issue of New Testament figures, from Simon Peter to fictional characters who have important but sometimes peripheral roles in the tale.  

This is as much an adventurous tale, at times, as it is a book about faith. The sheer canvas of the setting, the way Marcellus develops, changes, comes to grips with what's happening to him- and the travails and triumphs of Demetrius- seriously, everyone should have a friend like this- not to mention, the uncertainty that Marcellus' loved ones go through, the life changing things Marcellus does. The feelings Diana goes through- she wants no part of a new religion, she doesn't understand what's happening to her previously practical childhood friend- a friend who is now in love with her. Where does she fall?  

I've heard it said that The Robe is a life- changing read, and I can attest to that. As a Christian I got certain things out of it but even if I weren't a believer I feel like this would have been a worthwhile, absolutely gripping read. The travails and growing pains of the early church, the stories about Jesus and whether to believe them, the feeling of first century Palestine in the throes of upheaval- I almost felt at times like I was in that earlier world, immersed in all the history. I was moved at times by the emotions I felt, such as when Simon Peter and Marcellus talk about Jesus, and their experiences with him, together- near the site of his death. I'm not ashamed to say I may have teared up. This is a book that has affected me greatly, not only in a way that affirms my faith, but in the sense of place it gave me- I felt like I was in Rome at times, or Athens. A magnificent read.     

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Golden City Vol. 3

Golden City Vol. 3: Polar Night

Golden City Vol. 3 Polar Night lives up to its name, as we start off with Banks being delivered to a maximum security prison in the polar wastes. Banks is the former president of a floating utopia catering to the rich and powerful- but someone has replaced him with a clone who looks just like him. Now Banks has been sentenced to hard labor and his future looks grim. The environmental themes continue here as well, with the felons sent to this prison being used for hazardous toxic waste clean up on the ocean floor. 

Banks makes friends with a rather timid inmate, which ends up saving his life as he has a sadistic overseer who'd like to see him dead, but once he escapes he's still not in the clear. Sister Lea from volume one conveniently shows up and recognizes him, and the clone realizes he needs Banks alive to answer certain questions Lea asks- questions only the real Banks could answer. So Banks has a chance right? Well... maybe. 

This volume was a little slower paced than the previous one and I would have liked the story to move along a little farther, but it was still good. We don't see much of the orphan kids who sort of share a starring role in this with Banks, but I know they're going to come back into focus. The art as always is stunning, with some shots of Golden City that are amazing. The prison and underwater environments are artfully detailed as well. This is a visually amazing graphic novel with a fun story, amazing worldbuilding and stellar art- a pretty good package all around. 

Monday, April 22, 2019

Top Ten (First Ten) Books I Reviewed


 Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by 
That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week a new Top Ten list will be posted. Everyone is welcome to join. Link back to The Broke and the Bookish so everyone can check out other bloggers' lists. It's a fun way to get to know fellow bloggers.

This week is the Top Ten First Books I Ever Reviewed. This is kinda fun! I get to go back and look at some of my earliest, most horrible reviews! But at the same time I'm kind of anxious to take this trip back in time, so let's can the chit chat and take a peek! 

13 Treasures (Thirteen Treasures, #1)

13 Curses

13 Secrets

Wednesdays in the Tower (Castle Glower, #2)

Bear Island

Glow (Sky Chasers, #1)

The Secret Zoo (The Secret Zoo, #1)

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH


Spark (Sky Chasers, #2)

Emilie and the Hollow World (Emilie, #1)

The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

Tuesday Tagline #139


They've been waiting. They want revenge. And now they're here.  

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Tales From Northern Michigan #4

Tales from Northern Michigan is a new feature that will appear irregularly here on the blog. The point of it is to share cool stuff from one of my favorite areas- northern Michigan. As many of you are aware Michigan actually has an Upper and Lower Peninsula, linked by the Mackinac Bridge, and I'll be showcasing the area that we in lower Michigan affectionately call "Up North." It could be anything from music to wildlife to bookstores- you never know what you'll find Up North, so who knows what will turn up here? 

So without further ado, here's a look at the beauty of northern Michigan. 

Here is South Manitou Island from an overhead perspective, shot by drone. Stunning images! I love the shipwreck just offshore. South Manitou can only be reached by ferry and is a backpacker's paradise.  

Here are some pics I thought I'd share. 

This is at a lighthouse park on the tip of the Old Mission Peninsula- one of my favorite places. 

Same place- the water level rises and falls dramatically, sometimes from year to year- this pic is a few years old. Last year when I was out there this was all underwater. 

Leelanau Books in Leland MI- also knows as Fishtown.  

The back area of Leelanau Books. 

Leelanau Books is just ahead and to the right- and behind is the harbor. 

Inside Leelanau Books. 

Dockside in Fishtown. 

Sleeping Bear Dunes

This rock pile is way out at the lighthouse point mentioned above- and is now underwater. 

Elk Rapids is a neat little town just north of Traverse City. 

Ginger Snaps in Elk Rapids.  

Here's a nice look at the Sleeping Bear Dunes area, which I'll be revisiting occasionally throughout this series. 

And this is an amazing look at stars among the dunes, complete w/ timelapse. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Sunday Post #294

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews
It's Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Book Date 
Happy Easter to all who celebrate! I love this time of year- the sense of renewal, the onset of spring, and of course celebrating the holiday. Sign-ups for the Bookish Games started this week- you can find that here. You can sign up if you want, or join the Spectator Chat. Sometimes it's fun just to watch the chaos. What are the Bookish Games? Well it's an online book version of Mafia where participants are given roles from the book. Last team standing wins. This edition is Nevernight by Kristoff. Let's see, in other news... oh Game of Thrones is back! Episode two already this weekend! And now that I have HBO NOW (I only get it for GoT) I guess I might watch Westworld S2. Did anyone watch it??  

As I was putting this post together I came across something called Unseen Westeros- it's an art exhibition they did back in January to showcase concept art inspired by Game of Thrones. It's also a Kickstarter with an art book you can purchase. I've included some links below- the point of it is to showcase locations that you haven't seen on the show. 

This week I'll be reviewing Killing November and maybe I'll even do a liveblog watch of Jurassic World 2.      

You Owe Me a MurderAfter the Lights Go OutKilling November (Killing November, #1)

Song of the week 


Image result for the plot against earth book cover image


They All Fall Down


I love this scene from Dazed and Confused. 

"Did you order some kegs of beer?"