The Conqueror was not one of the better books I’ve read… and it made me realize the responsibility I have to your girls on this blog.
NOTE FOR READERS: This review has multiple spoilers, if you plan to read this book or you don’t want to be spoiled, do not continue reading.
Okay let’s start by saying look at that cover. That cover had me hyperventilating when it came in the mail.
*confession time* Other than avoiding romance style books, I don’t usually read the blurbs of books I’m signing up to review. I don’t pay much attention at all until they come in the mail. So when I got a BOX from Revell I was SO STINKIN’ excited. It was a FAT HARDCOVER. I took so many sparkly pictures of this book to post on my bookstagram. I hoped SO badly that it was gonna be an amazing story.
My responsibility as a review author.
I sat down at my lunch table at work and opened this behemoth and I was very excited to take a good chunk out of it. That was about three weeks ago. When it takes me a very long time to finish a book, that’s a sign of one of two things. Either I have been way too busy to sit down and read it or I’ve been procrastinating reading it because I’m not really interested and I’m not looking forward to writing a negative review.
I know how hard it is to write and publish a book. I’ll push through to find something positive to praise in a book. Something to give the author credit for writing the work. I do NOT like writing negative reviews.
But it’s my job, that’s why you girls are here. To see which books are worth reading, and which ones are not.
So here is the negative review.
Now I’m going to be fair. I still haven’t finished reading it. The Conqueror really reminded me of a story my thirteen-year-old male cousin wrote to try and best me as an author. Which didn’t work out very well.
I was going to quote my mom. Sometimes I’ll tell her “Mom, there’s nothing wrong with this.” And she’ll look at me and say “That doesn’t mean there’s anything right with it.” That’s a good way to look at things, right?
So, there were a few things that were wrong with it. But there definitely was not anything especially right about it.
So, I love characters. You girls know that. I didn’t like Rex or Flavia in this book. At all.
Flavia was petty. She was a beautiful young thing, growing up in her fathers house, beloved by her mother, and perfectly Christian. She was in the flower of her youth, full of courage and boldness. But not in a believable way. I think my favorite part of her entire story that I’ve read so far was her pitiful dispair in the dungeon waiting to be eaten by lions. Not even the moment when the bull came charging at her. She became the ideal martyr at that moment. It made me slightly sick, honestly.
Rex was the biggest, strongest, boldest soldier. He’s undefitable in hand-to-hand and a dedicated worshiper of Hercules because he needs victory in his life. He’s absolutely mission focused and nothing detours him.
Oh right, until that filthy girl gets captured in the street in front of him and makes eye contact, telling him she’s innocent.
The only character I maybe liked was Constantine himself. He was a pretty predictable and digestible character that actually acted like a human being.
So the plot is perfect pious Flavia does her duty as a Christian and goes against the Emperors banishing a bishop, so that when he dies she smuggles his body back into the city and buries him with the other “honored saints.” And oops, there happened to be a listening ear saw her do it.
Well, there’s an evil emperor who hates her dad and guess what? He needs to ruin the family name. How convenient! The eavesdropper happened to drop in right on time to bring the news that this daughter had gone against the banishment ruling and brought back the bishop’s body! Let’s kill her. And let’s not just kill her. Let’s strip her of her title so she has no legal immunities, and then throw her to the lions. (very brilliant, Augusta)
Well now the brilliant and un-detoured speculator happens to see her in the street and abandons his charge and disguises himself as a gladiator to rescue her from the jaws of a raging cat. Then they run away together to escape the city. That’s as far as I got.
NOTE: this is a very summarized, exciting, dramatized and humored version of the book. This took exactly 212 pages to get done. I’m afraid I may have made it sound like to much fun. XD
Unfortunately, there was some content in this book. (again) I have not finished reading it, but at this point I don’t really want to. Just barely after Rex rescues Junia, they escape the city and get on a stolen horse, she’s debating where to put her hands as they ride, he teaches her self defence, and they end up falling all over each other… alone… in the dark. Shortly there after they go to a public bathing house (which btw has nothing to do with furthering the plot) and Flavia forgets to give Rex back his coin, in which she goes to the public room to return it and spends a fair amount of time staring at his arms and chest (his lower body is hidden) but then she faces the moral battle of whether she should approach him to return the money or not and quote “A war raged in her soul, the ancient battle between lust and self-control.”
Hold on, where did our perfect Christian Flavia go? And what about this barbarian she’s known for exactly 24 hours is enough to knock her perfection off it’s pious pedestal?
So there’s that. If you need more I’ll point you to this review on goodreads by Amanda Feaney. I didn’t feel it was nessacary for me to read anymore of this book and see these scenes myself.
There was also lots of violence, a boy is killed in the prologue to give you an idea 😉
And one more topic I wanted to touch on. The author placed an author note about the era and doctrine of the era, noting that it wasn’t a biblical era, and it wasn’t the dark ages, but somewhere in between that doesn’t often get written in fiction. I appreciated this aspect of the book. He had lots of factual information at the beginning, and I was quite impressed. But… (you saw that coming didn’t you?)
There was a lot of catholic themes in the story. It wasn’t like catholic completely, but the theology was leaning towards that. I am not Catholic, and I disagree with a large amount of their doctrine, so that was a turn off for me. He did mention in his note that it wasn’t the contemporary christian doctrine nor was it catholic doctrine. So…
I’m going to say this. I find doctrine that’s only a little off to be more dangerous than doctrine that’s completely wrong. Because it’s harder to discern and harder to find instant wrong with it.
Also, if it was a non-believer reading this story, I would be very sad, because this book does not portray our Christ in the sacrificial, loving person that He was. And it doesn’t portray the Christian living in a Christ like way. As one other reviewer said, it was all religion and no relationship.
In summary, I do not recommend this book. Not to adults and not to teenagers and not to kids. Not to friends and not to acquaintances. There’s nothing right about it.
I received a copy of this book in the mail, but a positive review was not required. Thank you Revell for sending it to me.
So there it is. I’ve written a negative review. What do you think? Let me know!