Today I’m featuring four delightful reader reviews of The Pilgrim from:
- Amy Nowak
- Kevin Denis
- Lindsay Franklin
- Mark Buzard
Amy Nowak’s blog:
Are you interested in female strength, courage, and virtue?
Would you like to learn about a woman who enjoyed high stature but was thrust down hard from her throne?
Why she picked herself up?
And what made her follow a dangerous road with men she did not know to seek an impossible treasure?
The Pilgrim artfully tells the story of how the Empress Helena, mother of Constantine the Great, believed God, sought to fulfill his vision, and thereby encouraged early Christians that their persecution was not in vain.
Enemies ordered to kill her are hampered. Soldiers ordered to protect her become supporters and friends. Yet as her following increases, so does her humility. There is brokenness, healing, miracles, and a bit of romance too.
I recommend The Pilgrim for anyone interested in early church history, but especially for young women who seek a role model of virtue during times of despair.
Kevin Denis, on Amazon:
“I believe in miracles . . .”
The gospel song written by John W. Peterson kept running through my mind as I neared the conclusion of Davis Bunn’s latest historical novel, The Pilgrim, and for good reason:
The journey of Helena, mother of Constantine, as a pilgrim to Jerusalem after being divorced without cause and disgraced as a result, is nothing short of miraculous.
After Helena is exiled by her husband, she travels to meet her son. While on her way she is visited by God in a vision and instructed to take a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her journey is perilous with threats of death from Roman authority in Caeserea and the surrounding region. God’s hand is upon her, however, as she is joined by others on the way to Jerusalem.
The story casts Helena as the central character; however, three others – a young soldier, an experienced sergeant, and a bishop/pastor who no longer has a church – are as important to the story in their own way as Helena is.
The Pilgrim is neither a long novel nor a quick read, and Davis Bunn successfully proves that fiction doesn’t have to be without meaning. As fiction The Pilgrim is entertaining; however, the book doesn’t shy away from asking some deep questions:
- Am I burdened with doubt?
- Have I failed my Lord in any way?
- Do I have a reason to continue living, a purpose for my life?
As the characters in the book come to understand, we will find the answers to our questions when we seek those answers from the only One who can truly provide them.
I believe readers will be blessed and encouraged by The Pilgrim. It is the best historical novel I’ve read this year, well worth the 5-Star rating I am giving it.
Lindsay Franklin’s blog:
I hadn’t really studied the history (and legend) surrounding Helena before, as most of my studies about this era in church history have been centered on her son, Constantine. But after reading The Pilgrim, I know I’ll be doing further research into the life of Helena.
Bunn does a great job of fleshing out her character as she deals with heartbreak and loss while she works to fulfill the calling she received directly from God. I enjoyed taking the journey with this woman of faith and courage.
Bunn does an equally great job creating an interesting cast of characters to surround Helena on her journey. As I said, I know little about Helena’s historical pilgrimage, and from what I understand, it’s pretty difficult to sift history from legend. So I’m not sure if any of Helena’s traveling companions are historical figures or if they’re wholly based upon Bunn’s research into the era and people who may have existed at that time. Either way, I know I enjoyed the inner journeys of these supporting characters, particularly the commander Anthony.
Bunn is often noted for his meticulous attention to historical detail, and he brings the fourth century alive with the ease befitting an author of his experience and acclaim.
Bottom Line: With overarching themes of grace, redemption, and the kind of faith that forces a person to her knees, Christians and history buffs interested in this time period should check out The Pilgrim.
Mark Buzard’s blog:
Davis Bunn is an excellent author who writes all types of novels and never disappoints. However, I wasn’t so sure of this book when it came in the mail. It isn’t a very long book, coming in at only 176 pages, and it is a very unassuming book in appearance. Armed with the knowledge that Bunn is a great author, I started reading it. And I couldn’t put it down.
I either had forgotten Helena was a real person, or never learned about her. Regardless, as I read it, I wondered if she was a real person. I Googled “Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine,” and sure enough. Just as the book said, she had led her famous son to Christ, and she had also taken a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and legend says she found the cross Jesus was crucified on. With that knowledge, the book became even more interesting to me.
It is historical fiction, so many of the events and characters in the book come from the author’s imagination, but he takes the reader on a fascinating journey from Caeserea to Jerusalem. The journey is filled with all sorts of interesting and miraculous events, and after finishing the book, it seemed to me the book was longer than just 176 pages. He packs a lot into those few pages.
It is an interesting and entertaining read, but there is also a great message in the book:
That there is always forgiveness, even we turn our backs on Jesus and do things that seem beyond forgiveness.
Although the people in the book that repented were fictional, it is not beyond the realm of possibilities that there were real life Christians who turned their back on their faith to avoid torture and death for them and their families.
I would highly recommend this book. Davis Bunn can put this short but packed novel up against the best historical fiction there is and be proud of this latest work. It does not disappoint. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.