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Thomas Locke

To the Ends of the Earth
Lion Books, 1996

Reviews:

Fourth century AD: Rome's power is crumbling and people are looking towards Byzantium for new ideas and civilisation. The Emperor Constantine is recently dead and his three sons struggle for power. His city is a melting pot of peoples and religions and here, instead of skulking in the catacombs, Christians can worship openly at the many basilicas. It is a time when the ancient world is giving way to the new. Cletus is a Celt who manages the estate of a Roman soldier and has one treasure left - jars of precious Royal Purple. Seeking a new market for the dye, he sends his young son Kieran off to 'the ends of the earth' (Constantinople). Almost penniless, he wants some return on the loans he gave his elder sons years before. This is Kieran's other errand. It is not as simple as it appears. Who wants him and his father off their land so desperately? And what is the appeal of Christianity? This is a fast-paced romantic adventure. There is a poisoning and a pirate attack in the first chapter and thick and fast follow the plots of Kieran's two evil brothers, a pagan cult dedicated to human sacrifice and more. Interweaving with the action is a gentle tale of romance as Kieran sets out to woo the daughter of a Christian merchant. The author's subtle way of showing the appeal of Christianity to people in the fourth century is outstanding. Lydia, the merchant's daughter, helps run the business because Christianity has freed women from the rigid restraints of the pagan cults. In a violent world where history is being made uncomfortably close to most people, the idea of a God of love and peace is appealing. Christianity, lacking the more colourful and arcane rituals of the older faiths, must have seemed like stepping out of the fog of superstition into something more enlightened. This is a well-crafted treat without the obscurity of a literary novel or the banality of a pot-boiler. With its sparkle of action and soft glow of romance, it is a good, old-fashioned (in the best sense of the word) novel for a modern audience. - Rachel A. Hyde From The Historical Novel Review (December 1998), published by the Historical Novel Society

- Rachel A. Hyde, 12/1/1998

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