“…A completely engaging story both emotionally and intellectually …”
—Tom Hyman, former magazine and book editor and author of six novels
Five Star praise for the debut volume of the Everlasting Spring: Beyond Olympus
The Everlasting Spring: Beyond Olympus—Book One, Benjamin and Boudica—strikes me as a winner with wide appeal. It’s a completely engaging story both emotionally and intellectually, and certainly a rousing one in terms of level of action. The principal characters are vivid and compelling creations that will stick in a reader’s mind for a long time; the supporting cast is also first-rate. The prose is consistently lively and evocative, and sometimes quite eloquent. The story’s theme—the rise of Christianity following Christ’s crucifixion in the twilight years of the Roman Empire—is powerfully articulated and presented. The plot is amazingly inventive and powerfully imagined. It is also solidly thought out and put together; the story arc is excellent, bringing the rising conflicts of the whole extraordinary adventure to a thunderous climax and resolution—and a very satisfying conclusion.
Tom Hyman is a professional novelist of twenty-five years standing with six novels in print in over a dozen languages (Jupiter’s Daughter, Prussian Blue, Seven Days to Petrograd, Riches and Honor, The Russian Woman, and Giant Killer). Tom is also a former magazine and book editor. In his years of editorial experience at LIFE Magazine and the publishing houses of Atheneum, Doubleday, and G.P. Putnam’s, he has worked with the widest of talents, including a substantial number of best-selling authors, academics, historians and novelists.
More Five Star praise for the debut volume of the Everlasting Spring: Beyond Olympus
Murder, betrayal, and the entwining of two cultures against a common evil explode into view in Frank Audrain's novel, Everlasting Spring: Beyond Olympus, Book One, Benjamin & Boudica. As Christianity begins to spread across ancient Brittania, two unlikely people unite against the Roman tyranny that has run rampant across the land. Their goal is to not only fight this tyranny for a day but for the gerneratios to come. Benjamin is a young Jewish man who becomes spiritually lost after the murder of his wife. Throughout his travels, Ben is taken in by some wise men that teach him all is not lost and there is a purpose for this life he never fathomed. As he begins his quest, he meets Boudica, the Queen of the Iceni Celts, who is also reeling from great loss and tragedy. Sparks begin to fly, driving them down a common pathway to defeat their Roman enemies.
Everlasting Spring: Book One is a well-written and fast paced novel. While it falls into the historical fiction category, it thankfully has quite a few elements that are historically accurate, including many of the secondary characters and battles that occur. The lives of Biblical characters that appear throughout the novel follow their actual time-lines, with some fictional characters going along for the ride during the early part of the novel. Although the Biblical characters have a fairly small part in the story, they make a large impact, and it was nice to see that they weren't just thrown in at random. Both Ben and Boudica's characters are interesting and well rounded. Even while suffering great tragedy, their perseverance is inspiring. I felt as if I were able to connect with their characters and their mission to defeat the Romans. The dialect is easy to read and flows well throughout the entire novel. If there were any grammer or editing errors, they were so minor that I completely read over them.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel with its action, adventure, and enjoyable characters and couldn't find much about it that I did not like about it as a whole; however, I was a little taken back by yhe graphic violence that appeared within the first few chapters, not only battle scenes, but also a scene where two of the female characters have been raped and one of their bodies is mutilated. There is also a sex scene that goes into a lot more detail than I would have expected, because of the characters' discovering the Christian faith. I assumed that the novel would follow along the same lines as Christian fiction that I have read in the past. While I didn't care much for the violence and graphic nature of some parts of the novel, the book as a whole is an excellent and worthwhile read.
I definately recommend Everlasting Spring: Beyond Olympus, Book One, Benjamin and Boudica for mature readers of historical fiction.
Online Book Club Reviews
It is 60 AD in Ancient Brittania, and Boudica is on the brink of leading an uprising to end Roman cruelty. Upon the death of her husband King Prasutagus, the Roman authorities pillage their kingdom, rape and mutilate her daughters, and flog her mercilessly. As Queen of the Celtic Iceni and Druid priestess, she vows revenge. Together with the neighboring tribe of the Trinovantes, Boudica and her warriors plan their attack. All of these are part of history. (The book cover shows the sculpture "Boudica and her Daughters" which stands sentinal in London to this day.)
In his book the Everlastingspring: Beyond Olympus, Book 1, Benjamin ands Boudica, Frank Audrain introduces an intriguing twist. Benjamin, a student of of the Pharisee Gamaliel (teacher of Saul of Tarsus), enters the story. On their way to Jerusalem for the Passover, Benjamin and his wife are ambushed by Roman soldiers. They rape his wife and hang her, then maul him to near blindness. He is able to continue on to Jerusalem where he meets disciples of Jesus. After sharing with him the salvific message of Jesus, they convert him from Judaism to Christianity. He then sets off on his own evangelistic mission, armed with a sackful of scrolls containing the Christian writings that would be the bulk of the New Testament.
Benjamin and Boudica finally meet, and unite to face the Romans. Benjamin also takes the time to evangelize Boudica and her daughters.
How will the battles against the Romans play out? Will Boudica and her daughters embrace Jesus Christ?
In the Prologue, the author mentions his intent to make his readers aware of (and hopefully accept) the the message of Jesus. He hails Jesus as the source of the water of eternal life, the everlasting spring. A few chapters are dedicated to the narration of the life and teachings of Jesus, His death and rising, Peter's commission as first Pope, and the conversion of Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus).
The author did painstaking research. He was able to interweave the story of the propagation of Christianity with the events of the British uprising. The author skillfully introduced Biblical characters into the plot, including a Roman centurion whose servant was healed by Jesus from afar. This centurion became part of Boudica's warriors.
History books are sketchy about the true events of those times. Who can tell whether the author's fiction actually happened?
The depiction of Boudica is faithful to the history books. So are the rituals performed for the war goddess Andraste and the Celtic warriors' practices of fighting naked and brining their famalies and cattle to accompany them to the battlefield. Benjamin and the other characters are depicted well too.
Despite the Christian theme, the book does not want for violence. There are bloody battles, mutilation of women, and human sacrifices. These are all part of history and are vital to a faithful recounting. The author paints these episodes with eloquence, making the reader cringe with horror.
I was enraptured by the book, with its historic action-packed battles and its fictional parallel plots of romance and spiritual awakenings. The romance angle was adroitly inserted. The initial narrations of the spiritual material (as relayed by Ben), however, felt forced as the many events were crammed into a few chapters. The exhortations by Ben (to Boudica and her retinue) in the later chapters were more natural.
The language is usually easy to follow, except when the author goes on into a meditative mode about spiritual concepts when he tends to ramble on.
While the story is mostly faithful to history, it has a clever fictional ending that links this book to its sequel, Everlasting Spring: Beyond Olympus, Book 2, Colton and Blue Star (in the new world of the Americas). I would gladly follow the author to the next story and to the final one to complete the trilogy.
This book made me aware of the Roman occupation in Ancient Brittania, opened my eyes to the parallel growth of Christianity, and introduced me to a new personal heroine in the person of Boudica. For the empowering experience, lovers of history, Christians and especially empowered women will find much to enjoy in this compelling story. The fainthearted may have to think twice, though; the book contains much graphic violence, portraying the horrible reality of war.
Online Book Club Reviews