5 of 5 stars *****
The Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers seems to be complete with its second book, An Echo in the Darkness. This reader discovers the third book, As Sure as the Dawn to be a delightful adventure starting with a flashback to a time when the protagonist, Hadassah, awaits being thrown to the lions. In the dungeon Hadassah inspires the Christians and barbarians with her gentle demeanor, soft voiced songs, and trust in Jesus, the son of God. One barbarian in particular, Atretes, the legendary gladiator who fought his way to freedom, learns from Hadassah that his only son is alive and resides with the Christian leader, John, who entrusts a widower, who lost her only child, to care for his child. This is the extent of Hadassah's role in this story except for a few significant references to her strength in character and belief.
The protagonists, now, become Atretes and the woman, Rispa, who nurtures his son, Caleb. Atretes is an antagonist as well in his barbarian mode dominated by pride and conceit. It takes the strong will of Rispa to penetrate his harsh exterior which exposes Atretes good, redeeming qualities. Their escapades lead them to an unlikely confidant, Theophilus, a Roman Centurian who plays an essential part in God's plan. The adventure leads these disparate companions north where the Germanic, heathen tribes plot revenge on the Roman Empire.
The Gospel inspires the protagonists to "feed the sheep" according to the instruction of the risen Jesus. More than words, a deep faith, trust, and obedience to God sways those who convert to the new way, Christianity. It is the demonstration of this faith, trust, and obedience that fill the pages of this wonderfully crafted novel. The story is full of thrills and tender moments that enthrall its audience to the end.