"Will we cling to Rome, hoping all her corruption will be made white as snow? By my oath, you say these Anabaptists are fanatics, and perhaps they are, but at least their hands are clean!" ~ Brother Pacificus
This is going to be s short review of a long book with an epic scope. I'm not going to try to explain the plot, except to say that it's a bunch of individual humans trying to live/grow/survive/flourish against the dark, dangerous, bloody days of the 1500s.
And you'll come to love them as you read. With 603 pages to work with, the characters have time to develop, and sink into your mind.
Some characters that you admire will betray you, and some you initially overlook will grow into heart-breaking goodness and bravery.
It's hard to say that you enjoyed a book like this: the story is so well-wrought and you are gripped by the scenes, but the accounts of carnage and brutality are terrible.
(If you're easily troubled by mental images, then feel free to skip a few pages here and there when you see a violent scene building.)
When the endorsement calls this "a novel of ideas," they aren't lying. There are dog-ears throughout my copy, marking insights about the Crusades, the Catholic Church, and the Reformation. Because this is a story and not a textbook, the characters also wrestle with obedience and mercy, friendship and fidelity, vocation and love. And it's not as if they have ample time and safe surrounding to work out their convictions.
They're enduring prison and persecution, and the idea of giving their lives isn't a theological abstract. It's reality.
And remember- You never step into the same river twice.
Thank you Lion Hudson and Kregel publishing for my review copy.