A warm but in the long run, rather ineffectual young novel about Madoc, a thirteen year old Gaul who is captured by the Romans and sent in slavery to the centurion Cornelius on duty in Judea shortly after the crucifixion. While he is tending his master in Jerusalem and on countryside missions, the two influences at work in his life are the desire to find his mother, whom he believes is a slave in north Italy, and gradual exposure to Christian teaching. There is Orestes the Greek tutor, Anna and Reuben who are Cornelius' housekeepers, a Jewish scholar, a shepherd boy whose life Madoc saves, an untrustworthy Syrian merchant. Finally the spiritually troubled Cornelius leans towards Christianity too, and in the end it is he who sends for Madoc's mother. The episodes have the seeds of drama but they are stunted by a kind of long winded sentimentalism. Nevertheless it doesn't remove the book from the category of a valuable character builder.