Book Review, Valeria’s Cross by Kathi Macias and Susan Wales
Posted by April W Gardner on April 25, 2012
In the 3rd century, pampered Roman princess Valeria falls in love with Mauritius, captain of the Theban Legion. She sends him off to battle, where he suffers under the schemes of a notorious pagan general with an ambition for power and a lust for Valeria. In a scene based on true events, the evil Galerius kills Mauritius and his entire legion for their Christian faith. And in a shocking turn of events, the grieving Valeria is forced to become Galerius’ wife against her will. Never has a marriage been set up for such failure. Valeria loathes her new husband, but he seems to undergo a change of heart, adopting a child for her and giving her power and authority, and even love. She struggles with the commitment she knows she must keep, and the love she knows she will never find again.
Valeria, the daughter of the great Roman emperor Diocletian, has tons of potential for a full and happy life. But being a Christian with a father who claims to be a god makes life rather tricky. From the luxurious Roman court to exile in Syria, Valeria pursues God’s will for her life, all the while grieving the love that was stolen from her at a young age.
There wasn’t a moment I didn’t root for Valeria to be happy, to have her Happily Ever After. Her life was certainly full—full of disappointment, fear, and the unexpected. But happy? Well, I supposed that depends on your definition of “happy.” Joy in Christ would be a more accurate term for what Valeria learned to possess, because worldly happiness tended to eluded her.
Set in mid-late 200AD and based on actual events and personages, Valeria’s Cross deserves the label “A Novel Every Christian Should Own.” At times it reads like a history book, but the story is worth the occasional stiffness. It’s important that we know what the early Christians bravely suffered for the name of Christ. It might be required of us one day.
Valeria’s Cross reminded me somewhat of Francine River’s “Though None Go With Me” in that it encompasses a large period of time, the character suffers a great deal, and the end leaves the reader with mixed feelings. But my overall impression was, “Wow. Good stuff.”
It’s been a little while since a book grabbed me the way Valeria’s Cross did. The history was palpable, the characters endearing, and the plot nail-biting. Knowing most of it really happened makes the book all the more impacting.
I give Valeria’s Cross four Reflections.
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