Monday, March 17, 2014
Patrick, Son of Ireland - by Stephen Lawhead - Book Review
Happy St. Patrick's Day to one and all! I know there are many who are descended from the Irish, some more recently than others of course - but here in New Zealand they say the proportion could be as high as 20% of the population. No matter where you are from, I am sure you have felt the influence of that Celtic people.
Today I'm going to review a book for you that is not the newest on the shelf. I went looking for its actual year of publication and the earliest one I found says 2003, though I had thought it was much older - in my memory, I read it as a teenager. But that appears to be a myth in my mind. Perhaps it is something in the ancientness of the story itself.
The novel follows the early life of Succat, the son of Welsh Romans, as he is kidnapped and enslaved in Ireland. Over many years of sheep-tending and hoping for an onion from the master's table, he develops a calm and deep character that, while certainly rough around the edges, is also highly appealing in a human sort of way.
We follow him as he escapes, travels through war zones to Italy, and becomes a person of importance in the Roman government. Of course, much of the details are conjecture, based on snippets of history delivered to us, and it is impressive that Mr. Lawhead has created an entire novel around it - and not a skinny one.
The one detail that we can be fairly sure of is that he took the name Patricius and felt called to return to Ireland. The impact of that journey can still be felt today across the whole world. I found this an enthralling read with true depth and grit - admittedly more grit than some people would probably like, as the life of a slave was not a pretty one. But over the years scenes from the story come back to me, complete before my mind's eye, no matter if I have read it recently or not. Now that's what I call good writing.