Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Review: A Shield in the Shadows by L.A. Racines

A Shield in the Shadows
by L.A. Racines

25460451In 405 AD, a raid from a band of marauding Huns destroys a Christian village in the heart of barbarian Germania. Among those forced to flee are the pastor and his strong-willed, sixteen-year-old daughter Theona.

They lead a tiny group of survivors on a quest to find a new, safer place to settle, and ultimately join a massive invasion into the Roman Empire assembling on the banks of the Danube River. 

The invasion is led by Gothic king Radagaisus, described by ancient writers as “a worshipper of demons”. His drive to conquer the tempting lands across the river is fueled by his anger at Rome for abandoning the old pagan gods and adopting Christianity as the new state religion. What will he do when he finds that among the thousands of people joining the invasion, he is harboring Christians? And what will Theona do when she quickly draws the interest of Radagaisus’s impetuous son, Roderic? 

Young Gallic aristocrat Marius Ausonius, unaware of the looming threat, joins the Roman Army to train as a tribune. Too soon after his training, he and his cohort are thrust into the eye of the storm when they must defend one of the key strongholds blocking Radagaisus and his hordes. 

The lives of Marius and Theona become intertwined in incredible circumstances that will have far-reaching consequences for both of them and their people. 

My Take:
Pinned between an army of invading Huns and the fading Roman empire, High King Radagaisus makes a cataclysmic decision to invade Rome and sacrifice their Senators to his pagan gods rather than fight the bloodthirsty invading Huns. Nestled in his massive invading force, complete with families and wagons and livestock, is a small band of Christians, forced to join the invasion to escape the tragedy and death behind them. Theona, the beautiful daughter of Pastor Rhodus, having watched her family and village viciously and pointlessly murdered by a band of Hun raiders, finds herself thrust into the limelight as the son of the High King notices her, seemingly by chance.

The chance encounter with Prince Roderic quickly draws Theona into the unwanted attention of the vicious and bloodthirsty king, who wants no Christian in his camp, let alone his family!

Meanwhile, Marius Ausonius, the son of a Roman Gallic Aristocrat, joins the army as Tribune, unaware of the impending invasion, and the central part he will play in it.

As nations and faiths struggle for supremacy around them, Marius, Roderic, and Theona try to come to grips with their differences, their hearts, and the God who guides them.

About the Author:
L. A. Racines is the pen name of Cheryl Bristow, Quebec born, graduate of McGill University in Anthropology, and clergy wife, mother and grandmother. When not raising her family and supporting her husband's work in Anglican parishes in Quebec and Ontario, Cheryl has taught in Nigeria, written a number of published freelance articles, worked in administrative capacities in a number of NGOs and charities, and been a fundraiser. Cheryl's love of adventure, travel, dogs and people of all kinds are contributing factors to the plot development of A Shield in the Shadows.

This historical novel is her first, with three more to follow, and in April of 2016, it tied for first place in the Indie Book Awards--The Next Generation in the category of Christian Fiction. It is also a finalist in the Historical Fiction category of Canada's The Word Guild awards.

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