Centurion's Daughter

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Category: Contemporary
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Date Published: August 15, 2011
Number of Pages: 336
Print Price: $5.34
eBook Price: $5.07

With his historical novel, Centurion's Daughter, author and illustrator Justin Swanton takes the reader to the decline of the great Roman Empire, and the rise of the Frankish Empire.

Seventeen-year-old Aemelia and her Frankish mother have lived in Reims all their lives. After her mother's death, Aemelia travels to Roman Gaul searching for her Roman father, Centurion Tarunculus, a man she has never seen and only knows through family lore.

As Aemelia reaches Gaul, she sees a crowd making fun of a man giving a patriotic discourse about Rome's greatness. After inquiring about the whereabouts of Tarunculus, she is shocked to discover that the town's eccentric is, indeed, her father. Their first encounter is very heartbreaking to Aemelia because she is rejected by her only living relative.

Since Taranculus has no knowledge of her, he thinks she is an impostor or a beggar and dismisses her. Despite this brusque first encounter, Aemelia finds herself a home and a family with him at Gaul.

The first two chapters were slow to my liking. However, the author cleverly used conversations between Aemelia, her father, and other characters to reveal crucial information about her life in Reims. After these get-to-know-me-better chapters, the reader will be totally engaged following Aemelia and her father through their daily routine in town.

It was interesting how the author created tension in the story by means of personality conflicts between Aemelia and her father. Aemelia is shy, prudent, obedient, and a devout Catholic. By contrast, her father is egocentric, dominant, bellicose, and agnostic; his only goal is restoring Rome's greatness. Their disparity in temperament will keep the reader captivated until the story's surprising end.

As the story unfolds, Aemelia's ability to speak, read, and write in Frankish and Latin is revealed to be a double-edged sword of critical importance. On the one hand, as news spreads that the Franks are about to attack Gaul, an ambitious member of the ruling class uses Aemelia's bilingual skills to arrange a secret meeting with Chlodovech, leader of the Salian Franks. The agreement they reach will have a pivotal effect on the Battle of Soissons, where Lord Syagrius is defeated, leading to the rise of the Franks over the Romans. On the other hand, once Gaul is conquered, Aemelia's ability will secure her family a steady income.

Because I do not have much experience reviewing historical novels, I found it extremely useful that the book included a glossary with brief explanations of the historical figures in the novel. It helped me to sort out the fictional and reality-inspired characters, as well as to verify the accuracy of facts mentioned in this page-turner of a story.

Including a foreign language in a book is challenging for an author since its use has to be limited so as not disrupt the narrative's momentum. Mr. Swanton skillfully utilizes the language only in those scenes were it is crucial to keep the story's authenticity. In those days, Latin was the language of the Church and the Roman Empire. Frankish was the dialect of the West Germanic tribes. Readers with a knowledge of Dutch or German will be able to fully understand it. Readers who cannot speak those languages will identify themselves with the Romans of Gaul who did not speak Frankish. If it was the author’s intention to recreate a sense of the language barriers faced by either side in this epic struggle, kudos to him.

The story has all the elements of a great novel about Rome: betrayal, intrigue, clashes of the political and social classes and even a power struggle among the aristocracy, slavery, conquest, and an amazing battle. The few illustrations in the book help the reader to understand some crucial scenes. The elements of Catholicism depicted in the story offer a glimpse at the Church's importance during those times and its influence on politics and daily affairs. The author also mentions, through his characters' conversations, key saints whose diplomacy aided in the unification of the Germanic tribes and the beginning of a new era.

I highly recommend Centurion's Daughter to readers who fancy novels about ancient Rome.

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Publisher:
ISBN-13: 978-1935228059
Original Language: English
Book Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches


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TANNIA E. ORTIZ-LOPÉS was born in Guayama, Puerto Rico and currently lives in Germany with her husband and two sons. She is a writer by profession, a mother by choice, and a wife by the covenant of marriage. She is author of the award winning book, _The Window To My Soul; My Walk with Jesus_ [1]_ _(2004 Tate Publishing) and its long-awaited Spanish translation, _El Espejo de mi Alma_ [2](2011 WinePress)_._ On May 1983 she graduated with honour and obtained an Associated Degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Puerto Rico, Ponce Campus (CUTPO). On December 1988 she obtained a Bachelor Degree in Secretarial Sciences from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus (R.U.M.). From 1988 until the year 2000, Tannia participated in the following Spanish poetry anthologies published by “El Editor Interamericano” located in Buenos Aires, Argentina: Americanto (1988), Poetas Hispanoamericanos Contemporaneos (1989), Patria Plural (1990), América Poética (1992),and Expoesía 2000 91996). These poems were published under the pen name of Thánatos Lopés. The author has also published her poetry and stories at “Storytime Tapestry Newsletter” and “Wt In Spirit” Christian Magazine, both located in Canada and at local newspapers in Puerto Rico. The Window To My Soul; My Walk With Jesus [3](ISBN 0-9753933-5-9 2044 TATE PUBLISHING) [3] [3]is a compendium of free-style inspirational poems, prayers and meditations. It is the author’s profession of her love for Jesus and of thanks to God for the many gifts and talents that He has given her. It also expresses her deep gratitude for God's sending His only begotten Son to die for her sins and allowing her and many more to find peace in Christ and an open door back to heaven. It is a total surrender to the teachings and guidance of the Holy Spirit during the study of the Scriptures. These poetic meditations are the author's way of pouring out her heart and soul while meditating on God's Word and the marvellous daily miracles in her life. “El Espejo de mi Alma (ISBN 1-4141-1439-7 2011 WINEPRESS PUBLISHING)_ is a__ remarkable and unique book, Tannia Ortiz-Lopés has created a spiritual legacy that will live in the hearts of all Christians until the end of time. Taking the Old Testament book of Job as her jumping-off point, Señora Ortiz-Lopés has responded to the philosophical queries raised, verse by verse, with her own prayers and aspirations. _ _This is a truly wonderful book, radiant, heartfelt, inspiring and insightful, that will not only gladden the hearts and sharpen the spirituality of all who read it, but provide solace for their hungry, seeking souls and instant entry into that luminous world of the Spirit where Christ Himself dwells.”__ _ John Howard Reid, prize-winning author, writing contests judge, publisher, editor, critic, and bookseller. Publisher of the Christian site, _Time with Tannia __( __http://timewithtannia.tripod.com/)_ [4], where she published authors interview and her book reviews for www.arxpub.com [5], www.booksneeze.com [6], www.catholicfiction.net [7], www.tumblarhouse.com [8], and others. [8] In addition to writing the author also enjoys the art of photography, singing, and song-writing. Her stock photography portfolio is located at: [7]http://www.bigstockphoto.com/profile/Boricua63/ [9] [7] Her photos related gift could be purchased at: http://www.zazzle.com/teolpuertorico [10] [7]

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