Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Master's Wall by Sandi Rog

book cover

The Master's Wall
by Sandi Rog

ISBN-13: 978-1-936341-02-3
Trade Paperback: 300 pages
Publisher: DeWard Publishing Company
Released: 2010

Source: Won from a giveaway on another blog.

Book Description, my take:
As a boy, David watches his parents dragged away to their death for being Christians. He's badly injured while trying to stop the soldiers from raping his mother, so a slaver easily captures the Hebrew boy and sells him to a wealthy Roman living just outside of Rome. There he meets Alethea, the granddaughter of his owner.

Alethea watched as her grandfather ordered her father tied to a horse and dragged to death because her father refused to stop being a Christian. Alethea now lives in fear of her abusive grandfather and with the hurt that her father didn't love her more than his God.

David and Alethea strike up a friendship based on their mutual loss. As they grow up, David tries to teach her about Christianity, but she refuses to convert out of fear for her life. She also believes that she's never sinned and so doesn't need saving. David is tempted to escape but decides to stay and protect Alethea as best he can.

Then, in order to escape a painful punishment for disobedience, Alethea tells her grandfather that David put her in danger when the truth was that he saved her life. Can David forgive Alethea for her deep betrayal? Can Alethea become a woman who can win David's heart and find a way to marry him instead of her cruel betrothed?

My Review:
The Master's Wall is a Christian historical romance novel. It's set in Rome from 76 AD to about 84 AD. The characters were complex and realistic, and I liked Alethea even though she was a spoiled child. (She's 14 at the end of the book.) The romance didn't feel like a sure thing and had it's genuine struggles and problems. The Christian content was woven throughout the whole story and played a critical role in the story.

The setting was vividly described. While the historical detail was fairly good, it sometimes intruded on the story. Some details seemed present just to show off what the author had learned, but these instances were brief when they happened. However, the pacing would have been a little better in the first half if this excess detail was cut out along with some of the details of David's fight training. Incidentally, I doubted the fighting style that David was learning since, as described, it sounded impractical (mostly for show) but was supposed to be for actual combat.

There were also some historical and practical inaccuracies, though these were minor and uncritical to the story. One thing that confused me was that David called Jesus "Yahshua" instead of "Yeshua." (I looked it up, and apparently this is a re-naming of Jesus coined in 1930 AD and followed by a few people.) David referred to God as "Jehovah," which is also not historically accurate. Since I keep mentioning this, here's a quote from The Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern (page 4):

Long before Yeshua's day, however, the word "Adonai" had, out of respect, been substituted in speaking and in reading aloud for God's personal name, the four Hebrew letters yud-heh-vav-heh, variously written in English as "YHVH," "Yahweh," and "Jehovah." The Talmud (Pesachim 50a) made it a requirement not to pronounce the...("four letter name" of God), and this remains the rule in most modern Jewish settings....(Incidentally, the name "Jehovah" is a modern invention, an English hybrid based on the four Hebrew letters as transliterated into German, J-H-V-H, with the individually transliterated Hebrew vowel-points of "Adonai," e-o-a....

The Hebrew word for "he will save" is "yoshia'," which has the same Hebrew root (yud-shin-'ayin) as the name Yeshua (yud-shin-vav-'ayin). Thus the Messiah's name is explained on the basis of what he will do. Etymologically, the name Yeshua' is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y'hoshua' (English "Joshua"), which means "YHVH saves." It is also the masculine form of the Hebrew word "yeshu'ah," which means "salvation."

There was no bad language or explicit sex. Overall, I'd recommend it as an interesting and enjoyable novel.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Rome, AD 76
David tried not to cry, tried not to breathe or make a sound as he crept along the dark street. Careful not to trip on the flat stones, he recalled how that morning he'd taken this same path, chasing friends between the alleys, pretending they were gladiators fighting at the Circus Maximus. Now again he followed the enemy. Only this enemy was real. There were three of them. And they had taken his parents.

Mamma. Abba. He wanted to shout out their names, to cry out to them.

He could still feel Mamma’s hand in his. Could feel her letting go as the soldiers pulled her away. Could feel her stola ripping as he clutched it. All he had left was the shredded fabric from her dress still in his hand. How empty his hand felt now that she was gone.

He made a fist. All he had in the world. Snatched away. And now their lives might depend on him. On what he would do at this moment. But he was just a child, a boy. What could he do? He'd follow them, see where they were taken. Then he could get help. Manius would know what to do.

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