Book Review: Empire’s End

8 Jun

UnknownJerry B. Jenkins’s new novel is filled with adventure, drama, historic people and places, and even romance. Empire’s End tells the story of a man who single- handedly turned the Roman Empire on-end. It will be the heart-stopping story of the year! Only a few snapshots of Paul’s life are revealed in the Bible. In this fictional account, Jenkins tells of a devout Jewish scholar, who after only three years in the Arabian wilderness, emerges as the greatest Christian theologian in history. This novel explains how, after supervising the death of Jesus’s disciples, Paul would be moved to effectively conquer the Roman Empire with a message about a Jewish man named Jesus. You’ll be captured by the shocking “thorn in the flesh” that burdened Paul’s heart. Empire’s End will cause you to rethink whether Paul ever experienced the love of a woman or the embrace of a child.

 

jerry-jenkins-websiteJerry B. Jenkins is a New York Times best-selling novelist (Left Behind Series) and biographer (Billy Graham, Hank Aaron, Walter Payton, Orel Hershiser, Nolan Ryan, Joe Gibbs and many more), with over 70 million books sold. His writing has appeared in Time, Reader’s Digest, Parade, Guideposts, and he has been featured on the cover of Newsweek.

 

My Impressions:

I really liked I, Saul by Jerry Jenkins. It is a contemporary thriller combined with an inventive look into the life of the Apostle Paul. (You can read my review HERE.) In fact, I gave it a rare Very Highly Recommended rating. So I was really looking forward to diving back into the life of Paul as told by Jenkins. But Empire’s End was a mixed read for me.

Empire’s End, told in the first person voice of Paul, begins with the stoning of Stephen and Paul’s trip to Damascus to continue his persecution of followers of The Way. Following this, Jenkins takes the reader to the Arabian wilderness where Paul begins his three year training. There’s very little historical record of Paul’s life outside of his missionary journeys, so this time spent with Jesus is the author’s imagining of Paul’s time there. Jenkins’ fictional take on this time is interesting and plausible. He never has God saying anything that is not scriptural. In fact, most of what God communicates in Empire’s End is taken directly from Paul’s letters. I hate to say it, but that is what falls flat to me. I am not sure what I expected from a narrative of Paul’s time with Jesus, but this was not it. I guess I expected more interaction.

The novel’s pacing is a bit irregular as well. Some things within the novel developed too quickly, while others seemed to take forever to unfold. I found myself skimming to get to the action. I do think that Jenkins did a good job of making Paul real. Just like all Christians, he needed to be taught, disciplined and brought along in his maturity. Paul did not go from his conversion to being a master preacher/teacher to both the Jews and Gentiles without help from God and fellow believers. Jenkins also does an excellent job at exploring just what it means to be a bondservant, a lesson for all who call God Master. Paul encounters opposition, indifference and loss while struggling to keep his eyes fixed on Jesus.

So, there you have it. If you are looking for a thrilling continuation of the story begun in I, Saul, you are not going to find it here. But if you want a glimpse into what might have been, then Empire’s End could be the novel you are looking for.

Audience: adults.

(Thanks to Worthy Publishing for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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