BLOOD OF THE MARTYRS by Naomi Mitchison


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Published in England in 1939, this is Whittlesey's ""top Fall fiction title"" with a pre-publication of 25,000 and an initial advertising appropriation over $5,000. As an historical novelist the author handles her Rome of the early Christians expertly, and makes a holding story of many roads to The Way that slave and noble alike found. The first part contains the stories of the means by which individuals were joined in Jesus' name, particularly that of Beric, a Briton and son of a king, now bound to the house of Crispus, Lalage, the dancer, and Phaon who was saved to be a deacon; the latter part of the book tells of the growing persecution and pursuit by Tigellinus and his secret police, and the climax of the Christians' martyrdom with the collapse of the Piso conspiracy to assassinate Nero. Here is the chain of consequences that leads to faith, the strength found in fellow-worshippers, the knowledge of personal freedom which has no relation to physical slavery, the intensity of belief that made death for that belief dignified, courageous and worthwhile, that promises a never ending story while such faith lives. A novel -- which like I Claudius in the detailing of all accents of the period -- that should have its place among the religious audience as well as the general reading public, this, in placing history above histrionics, makes vital the concepts and power of Christianity.

Publisher: Whittlesey House