First Reader Reviews of ‘The Pilgrim’

June 25th, 2015

The Pilgrim By Davis BunnIn my upcoming historical novel, The Pilgrim, I recreate an important “scene” from the life of one of Christian history’s most important women: Helena, the mother of emperor Constantine.

The novel releases July 17, 2015, and early reader reviews are streaming in. Below are excerpts from seven reviews. Please click the link next to each reviewer’s name to access the full review.

Click the link to read Chapters 1-3 of The Pilgrim, free!

Tina Hunt, on Goodreads:

This is not a long book, but it’s deep. It’s not a difficult story, but it is rich and full.

Passionate and submitted. Regal yet humble. Life-changing. Hope filled. These are words that come to mind when I think about how Davis Bunn unfolds this story. There is a power that leaps from the page.

The characters in this story each make a pilgrimage, a journey of faith, whether it is across the sea or from behind a tree. There is the presence of evil and the battle to overcome fear and even find forgiveness.

When I was done, I was ready to go buy a gray traveling dress.

Judith Barnes, on Goodreads:

…It is the story of grief turning to a faith to forgive and to rebuild… The book is appropriate for Lenten reading. Believers and seekers alike will find a solid Christian message in this book while enjoying a lively tale.

Dave Milbrandt, on Goodreads:

…In The Pilgrim, we are introduced to Helena, mother of the famed Roman emperor Constantine, who travels to the Holy Land to fulfill her own destiny and help others to do the same. The charm of The Pilgrim is how Davis takes a timeworn story sitting on the edge of our collective memory and breathes new life into the tale through his flowing, almost lyrical prose. This is a concise, well-told tale that likely will inspire you to seek your own purpose in life.

Tracie Heskett, on Goodreads:

…This gripping story has a strong theme of forgiveness and serving God. It gave me something to think about even after I finished reading…

…The ending was a little disappointing, in that it read more like a biography and less like the story I had just read. I still give the book 4 stars, though, because Bunn does a good job incorporating research to tell this story of a little known piece of history. For lovers of historical fiction, The Pilgrim delivers that fresh taste of something that hasn’t been overdone.

Sherry Arni, on Goodreads:

…The characters are one of the strongest aspects of the book. Their enemies are powerful, overwhelming, though I expected a little more from them at points in the book. Still, The Pilgrim allows us into the lives of Christ-followers in a most difficult period of history. It delights as Bunn’s novels invariably do.

Cindy Eberle, on

I love history, and learned of Helena’s contributions when we visited Rome.  But unless you are willing to plow through the long historical documents, there is little available about the believers of this era.  This book fills the gap AND is an enjoyable novel with memorable characters… My only wish?  I would love a summary, at the end of the book, to know which events are historical fact and which are filling in artistic details.

Shelley Walling, on Goodreads:

…This book filled my spirit as I pictured Empress Helena traveling to Judea and saving countless Christians along the way. I know for a fact she angered Satan in her quest to follow God’s plan for her life.

Is Davis Bunn Biased Against Catholics?

June 23rd, 2015

The Meeting Place by Janette Oke and Davis BunnAn anonymous reader writes:

I want you to know that I am having to throw away the Song of Acadia series of books that I purchased. It didn’t take too much reading in the first book to see that you hate your fellow Christian brothers and sisters who are Catholic.

I have seen this same cutting sarcasm in other books by other authors and I am perplexed at how one can consider themselves to be Christian yet use the power of the published word to put down other Christians because of differences in beliefs. Is that not a sin in your Bible?

Do not all Christians believe in the One, True, Triune God?  Is there not “Power in the Word”?

Do you think what you are doing is pleasing to the God that we both believe in?  I don’t!
I am 57 years old and I have been a Catholic all my life. I attend Mass every Sunday and then some. I have lived in several states and many cities and have attended many different Catholic churches and not once in those 3,000 to 4,000 Masses has a priest ever spoken in a cutting way towards our fellow Christians. They may speak of our differences but never in an uncharitable way.

When we use the “word,” written or spoken, we bring life or death. To bring death is a sin against the 5th Commandment.

I read the work of many different Christian writers. I often learn good lessons from them as they open my eyes to new things about God. How sad that you emphasize hatred and consider yourself a Christian writer. Just using the word God here or there doesn’t make up for the unkind words.

And, Mr. Bunn, like so many of my fellow Christians who hate Catholics, might I suggest that instead of hating our religion based on bias from those who have educated you to be so, that instead, out of curiosity, you study what we Catholics believe about ourselves from OUR point of view. You will find there is no need to hate us. Of course our enemies speak ill of us. Therefore, what they say is biased. Seek truth.

Dear reader,

While I do understand your sensitivity to the issue, I must tell you that of the 2.5 million readers we have been blessed with for this series, you are the first to form this impression.

My wife, mother, and sister are Catholic. I am writing a series based upon the early church for the largest Catholic publisher in the US.

There are indeed people within the evangelical Protestant community who hold to this bias, I am sorry to say. I am not one of them.

What we tried to do in the Song of Acadia series is demonstrate the extreme tension between two communities in Canada’s early days.

The Turning By Davis BunnMary writes:

I was so blown away by your second devotional for The Turning, “Our Protestant Heritage,” that I haven’t figured out how to react.

I don’t have a Protestant heritage. I have a Catholic heritage. I thought the devotional made it sound like my faith didn’t count. You weren’t talking to me. But, I love Jesus, talk to Him personally, daily; I read the scriptures; I tithe and I listen to God. I felt like your characterization was exclusionary. I don’t understand it.

So I stopped reading the book for a long time. I picked the book back up and finished it on Easter. It was wonderful. But I haven’t figured out how to process this Protestant discussion.

Dear Mary,

I have wanted to address this very issue since completing The Turning and the accompanying devotionals, but I was not sure how. Your email, in truth, is an answer to a prayer. By far the best way to speak about this is in response to a reader.

Let me begin by saying that I am married to a Catholic, a wonderful woman who has taught me more about faith than any person alive. My mother and my sister have both converted to Catholicism. I have recently been asked to write a series for the largest Catholic publisher in the United States.

But this particular book, and the devotional lessons, were written for a conservative US Christian publisher. And the reason why I felt called to write on this subject – the one specific intent above all others – was because far too many evangelical Protestants have lost all touch with the contemplative aspects of our faith and our Christian heritage.

Too often these days, such people see the whole issue of spiritual contemplation as being a “Catholic” concept. And this simply is wrong. It hurts me to hear it referred in this way from the pulpit, because it reflects a “majority opinion” within many churches that just does not jibe with who we are and what has formed a foundation of our Christian heritage from the very beginning.

This devotional is first and foremost aimed at the Protestant believer who (and I mean this quite sincerely), has most likely never had contact with the message of contemplation. In order to break through this barrier, it was necessary to specifically address their incorrect assumption that the discipline of attentiveness is Catholic in nature.

First of all, the majority of lessons that shape Christian contemplation predate what we today refer to as the Catholic church. I suppose the better way to speak of this is by referring to today’s structure as the Roman church, as opposed to the Eastern church or Orthodox church. If you are interested in how this issue specifically relates to the discipline of contemplation, may I suggest you read a truly wonderful book by Phyllis Tickle, former Senior Religion Editor of Publishers Weekly, titled The Age of the Spirit. In any case, the whole concept of Christian contemplation is grounded in the Old Testament and given its first formal shape in the time of persecution during the second and third centuries.

But what is far more vital for today’s Protestant audience, the people who in my opinion need these lessons the most, is that the discipline of attentiveness—what today is referred to in the Catholic community as contemplation—was a vital component of the Protestant movement from the very beginning.

That is why I wrote the second lesson as I did. My intention was never to exclude the Catholics. In later lessons more than half the examples I used in describing life-changing revelations came from Catholic believers.

But there are any number of wonderful texts from Catholic sources, including many contemporary writers, about the wonders of spiritual silence. And yet these are simply not known or discussed in many Protestant churches. It is tragic and unnecessary, in my opinion. Their walk would be richer for including this. Mine certainly has been. And in order to reach these people, I addressed their incorrect assumptions at the starting gate. The founders of the Protestant denominations both practiced contemplative prayer and urged it among their followers.

We should all do so today, and learn to listen better.

Reader Question: Will There Be a Sequel?

June 17th, 2015

Since I write a fair number of series books, readers often ask me whether there be a sequel. Here are my responses to that question as it pertains to the following titles:

  • Marcus Glenwood series
  • Book of Hours
  • Marc Royce Adventures
  • Heirs of Acadia series

Kent writes:

Will there be another Marcus Glenwood book?

Dear Kent,

At present, Marcus is not expected to re-emerge, but because of the deep bond I still hold with that character, ten years after completing the work, anything is possible.

I know this probably does not satisfy, but just so you’re aware, I have been discussing with a publisher the possibility of doing a book about a woman attorney in central NC.

Betty writes:

I just finished The Book of Hours, and I must know: Is there a sequel? I can’t believe you left me “hanging” with the last paragraph! Surely you finished that great story somewhere.

Dear Betty,

No, Book of Hours was a stand-alone. But for your information, I have recently started work on a new novel that takes me back to the combination of romance, faith, and drama that has sparked such interest in Book of Hours readers. It is so new it has not even received an official title yet.

Strait of HormuzLarry and Linda write:

Strait of Hormuz was unquestionably a winner! BUT, despite the most welcome and imminent availability of The Turning, Linda asked me to urge you to get busy working on the NEXT Marc Royce series! Does that speak volumes?!?

We are both awed by your ability to capture and communicate your incredible imagination in a way that draws us into the hearts and minds of the characters. You have a marvelous gift and are so gracious to be sharing it with us!

Dear Larry,

First of all, I’m delighted that you both enjoyed Strait. But I have to tell you, I have said a firm farewell to Marc and Kitra for the moment. Maybe in the future, who knows, but for now, well…

A study guide to go with The Turning, is available as a free PDF download.

The Night AngelMaralys writes:

I absolutely love the Heirs of Arcadia series. At the end of The Night Angel, there was an excerpt printed for the next book, listed as The Loyal Renegade. I was mystified as I had already purchased Falconer’s Quest. I read the excerpt and was happy it seemed to go on right from the end of The Night Angel. Then I picked up Falconer’s Quest and was disappointed to find it began much later in time. Where can I get a copy of The Loyal Renegade? I can’t find it mentioned on any of your book lists. I am reluctant to begin Falconer’s Quest until I find this missing book to read first.

Dear Maralys,

Your comment is right on target. There was indeed another book intended between Angel and Renegade. But Janette Oke—with whom I wrote the original Acadia series and who retired because of ill health—felt good enough to return to writing, and asked if I would “hurry up and finish” that series, so we could do another. This new project with Janette became the trilogy called Acts of Faith, based upon the last chapters of the Gospels and the first three chapters of Acts. In any case, I “fast-forwarded” through time and encapsulated the drama intended as a separate book into the first three chapters of Loyal Renegade.

I hope you enjoy that final story in the series.

Observant Readers Spot Errors in ‘Great Divide,’ ‘Imposter’ & ‘Night Angel’

June 10th, 2015

Thank you, readers, for keeping me on my toes by graciously pointing out flaws in my research. You teach me to much! Here are a few bloopers observant readers picked up on.

John writes:

I read Strait of Hormuz and liked it. That led me to The Great Divide, where again I got swept up in the narrative. However, I found the legal mistakes to be fatal (though I did hang in to the end).

Under American law you cannot add a defendant to an ongoing trial. It would deny that party due process, time to prepare defense, knowledge of previous testimony, etc., etc., ad infinitum. Maybe in China, possibly in Italy where the process is bizarro, but certainly not in the US or UK either.

No federal judge would consider or take up an offer to be a special prosecutor. You don’t give up a lifetime sinecure for a temporary position with less pay. The prestige flows the opposite direction.

Only members of the US Supreme Court are called Justice. Those of lesser federal courts are Judge.

Counsel in trial are not allowed to interrupt closing or opening arguments by objection. That’s the practice and procedure, if not actually the law. You have them continually doing so and the presiding judge overruling. No, she’d be finding that lawyer in contempt of court, after one warning.

You say you consulted with attorneys in NC about legal points. Don’t consult the same ones next time.

Dear John,

Well, sir, this was certainly an eye-opener of an email. And I am indeed grateful for your thorough examination of the text. It’s amazing to me on two counts: First, that you still seemed to enjoy the story despite its evident flaws; and second, that you hung in there to the end.

It is hard to express just how much pleasure I receive from emails like this, where there are avid and emotional bonds forged between my work and intelligent readers like yourself.

One suggestion. I think you might enjoy giving Lion of Babylon a read.

Eric writes:

I just finished reading Imposter and enjoyed the book very much. However, some of the segments about the Air Force had distracting errors. Granted, I would notice more than most because I’m a major in the USAF, but I feel this undermines the authenticity of the story and is easily corrected. I hope this comes off as friendly help rather than criticism.

If it helps, here are some examples of errors in the book (from the Kindle edition):

Loc 4721: The Air Force does not have corporals.

Loc 4784: The description of the VOQ is like nothing I’ve ever stayed in, except when deployed. Usually, they are at least Motel 6 quality.

Loc 4921: The “no-fly rule” you describe is called “quiet hours,” the purpose being to avoid disturbing the surrounding community.

Loc 4987: Again, the Air Force does not have corporals.

Loc 5103: Annie gives Matt a salute, suggesting the uniform she gave him was that of an officer. On Loc 5076, Annie dresses Matt as a loadmaster. But a loadmaster is an enlisted crew member, and they wear flight suits, not fatigues. Similarly, she calls him a flight officer on Loc 5089.

Loc 5141: Matt bought a paper at the PX at Andrews AFB. The Air Force calls them a BX (Base Exchange). The Army calls them a PX (Post Exchange). Both fall under AAFES (Army and Air Force Exchange Service).

I’m not sure how useful this is or whether you can (or want to) update the book. If you ever need someone to review references to the Air Force in the future, I would be willing to help.

Dear Eric,

First of all, please accept my heartfelt thanks for the thorough analysis that you have offered here. Imposter has been out of print now for three years, so the actual changes will need to wait for a re-release. But the corrections are nonetheless much appreciated.

My contacts for Imposter were all within the police and federal law enforcement agencies. I “winged it” (terrible pun) on the USAF side, which basically happened because I didn’t have somebody to run the manuscript by. These issues often arise in such cases, and I apologize for the glitches that interrupted the story’s flow.

The Night AngelPatricia writes:

My husband and I have recently come across your books and have read several and are searching for more. I am presently reading The Night Angel and wanted to make you aware of an error on page 198. The first paragraph on that page is talking about a butter box and how the butter is made by pouring the skimmed cream into the box and pressing out the whey.

Unfortunately, butter is not that simply made. Whey is the liquid pressed out when making cottage cheese. To make butter, you must shake it (or churn it) until the butter particles form and then collect together, pour off the buttermilk, and then, with a large paddle-like spoon, press the butter against the side of the bowl until all the rest of the buttermilk is squeezed out. Then you can form the butter.

I hope this information is of use, although I know it is probable that you have already heard the same information from others of your readers. Again, my husband and I really enjoy your wonderful books, both the adventures (both of us) and the Acadia books (myself).

Dear Patricia,

Thank you and your husband for the very thoughtful email. Yes, this has been noted, and while the correction came in too late to be included in the reprints, it will most certainly be done in any future versions. I actually researched this point, but what I obtained was clearly a shortened version of the full act.

I do hope you and your husband enjoy the remaining stories. Please let me add that the story mentioned at the end of Night Angel was combined with the one that followed, and turned into one final book. Janette felt well enough to come out of retirement, and we wrote the trilogy based upon the first chapters of Acts. I did not have the time to do both, and was uncertain how long she and I had to work together on a project we had been discussing for many years.

A Complete List of Books by Davis Bunn

June 3rd, 2015

I love it when my readers help out!

Several years ago I stopped keeping track of the books I’ve had published. One of my readers, Gary Gilmore, prepared a list of my books.

Gary writes:  “I know some of the books are out of print, but they are still in local libraries – where I found all of mine.”

Click below to open a PDF of all my published books… as well as a sneak preview of titles that will be coming soon:

Davis Bunn – Complete List of Books PDF – Updated June 3, 2015

Please visit the Books page on my website for detailed information about my books in print.

Take Your Writing to the Next Level at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference

March 4th, 2015

If you’re feeling the nudge to write for publication, whether that be articles, blog posts, poems, curriculum, or books, consider attending the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference (near Santa Cruz, CA), March 27-31, 2015.

The conference is for writers of every skill level, from unpublished to professional. Several literary agents and editors will be there; you can seek to set up a one-on-one appointment or dine with them at lunch or dinner.

Major Morning Tracks

Davis Bunn Facebook

Davis Bunn

I’ll be teaching “Take Your Story to the Next Level,” one of six Major Morning Tracks. Participants in this comprehensive fiction track will examine crucial elements of solid stories, including character and dialogue, point of view, plot structure and story arc, opening scenes and story climax—how to create a solid commercial structure. Come with your story idea in mind because you’ll have opportunity to apply some of what you learn in class.

Afternoon Workshops

Janet Kobobel Grant

Janet Kobobel Grant

I’ll also be joining with literary agent Janet Kobobel Grant of Books & Such and Laura Christianson of Blogging Bistro (she’s my online marketing manager) to lead an afternoon Q&A workshop, “Planning Your Book Launch.” Janet, Laura, and I will attempt the impossible feat of covering everything you need to know about planning a book launch in one hour!

Here’s the description and outline for our workshop:

You have a book in the works. When should you reveal the cover? What should you include on your author website? Do you have to be engaged on several social networks? Hire a publicist? Run contests with big-ticket prizes? During this panel discussion, you’ll learn insider secrets for planning a successful book promotion.

Click to download a PDF of the workshop outline: Planning Your Book Launch – Workshop Outline

Head Start Pre-Conference Tracks

Laura Christianson

Laura Christianson

Laura Christianson will also facilitate a Head Start Pre-Conference Track, “Take Your Blogging and Social Media to the Next Level,” from March 25-27. During her interactive mentoring clinic, Laura will approach blogging and social media from a business perspective. She’ll help participants pinpoint their ideal reader, polish their message, plan a publication schedule, and practice proven techniques for building community.

Her track is by application only because it’s limited to 8 participants. She told me today that she still has a few spots open.

There’s so much going on at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference; it’s just amazing. You will make lifelong friends and network with many others who love the written word as much as you do. Hope to see you there!

Acts of Faith Series ebooks: Free or Discounted

March 2nd, 2015

Through May 31, 2015, you can download the ebook version of the three books in the Acts of Faith series for free or at a huge discount.

Janette Oke and I co-authored this historical fiction series that takes place in first century Judea.

The Centurion’s Wife (book 1): FREE!

The Centurion's Wife

When her family’s wealth and power are lost forever, Leah is sent to Pontius Pilate in hopes that he might arrange a strategic marriage. But despite her betrothed’s striking countenance and postion, Leah deems life as a centurioun’s wife a fate worse than death.

Head of the garrison near Galilee, Alban has ambitions that could one day see him at the seat of power-in Rome itself. Eager to prove himself, he takes on the assignment of a lifetime, one that will put his career, his beliefs, and his very life at risk.

But when the death-and missing body-of an obscure rabbi find Leah and Alban searching for the same answers, what they discover changes everything.

The Hidden Flame (book 2): $6.99

The Hidden Flame

In first-century Judea, the followers of the Way have burgeoned into a vibrant, growing community that cannot be ignored.

Jerusalem is in turmoil as itws religious leaders on one side, and their Roman rulers on the other, conspire to stamp out the fledgling Church. And Abigail, who throught she had finally found home and safety, is caught between the opposing forces.

Two suitors desire the lovely Abigail’s hand in marriage. Ezra, a successful Hebrew merchant and widower with important connections among the Sanhedrin, is looking for a mother for his children. The Roman soldier Linux is fascinated by her winsome charm and possibly could offer the sanctuary–maybe even the love–for which she yearns.

But her heart has been captured by neither of these. Will her faith and courage survive a heartbreak beyond comprehension as the followers face a gathering storm of persecution they never could have foreseen? A glimmer of hope beckons Abigail forward…

The Damascus Way (book 3): $6.99

The Damascus Way

One of the Top 10 Inspirational Novels of 2011 —Booklist

Young Julia has everything money can buy—except for acceptance by either Gentiles or Judeans in Tiberias. When she discovers the secret her beloved Greek father has kept all these years, she is devastated. Julia and her Hebrew mother are indeed less than second-class citizens. Her future is dark with clouds of uncertainty.

Jacob, Abigail’s brother, is now a young man attempting to find his own place among the community of believers. Does it mean trading away the exhilaration and adventure of his current profession as a caravan guard?

Hired by Julia’s father to protect a wealthy merchant’s caravans on the secretive “Frankincense Trail,” Jacob also reluctantly takes on the perilous responsibility of passing letters and messages between communities of believers now dispersed across the land. He is alarmed to discover that Julia, hardly more than a girl, is also a courier. Can their initial mistrust be put aside to accomplish their mission?

Video Interview on Writer’s Talk With Alton Gansky

February 16th, 2015

I recently had the honor of doing a Skype interview with Alton Gansky, host of Writer’s Talk. You can watch the video on YouTube (below) or download it from iTunes, Stitcher, or Podbean.

We talked about loads of topics, including my use of the pen name “Thomas Locke” for two new series Revell is publishing.

Q&A with Thomas Locke: Does the Idea of an Emissary Parallel Your Own Experience?

January 13th, 2015

Does the idea of an emissary parallel your own experience

Q: Does the idea of an emissary parallel anything specific to your own experience?

Davis Bunn (aka, Thomas Locke): It absolutely has a personal connection. Emissary is a Latin word that means ambassador.

My wife, Isabella, and I live for part of the year in the UK and the other part in the US. Increasingly, in our ministry efforts outside of writing, she and I are the only Christians in the room. We feel as if we are emissaries to the world.

During the time we live in the US, it’s easy to become insular. It’s a simpler and more comforting existence if our world is restricted to the community of believers who see the world the same way we do. In the US, our friendships and contacts can mostly be centered around fellow Christians.

Both situations feel right. But the direction we’re feeling called is to this community outside our faith community: the general university system, general entertainment, the growing world of nonbelief. In the Creative Writing class I recently taught at Oxford, for example, I had 29 students. Four of them were devout Muslims. If I am going to honor their creative efforts, I have to do it from the standpoint of explaining where I’m coming from, in terms of my own world view. But our differing life experiences and world views cannot color the way that I view the quality of their writing. I have to live out my faith in a way that speaks without words.

This has been a main reason for writing Emissary. I’m trying to reach out and to communicate a sense of hopefulness in a manner that meets my readers where they are.

Q: Have you had any “ah ha” moments in regards to your personal decision to be an emissary?

Emissary by Thomas Locke

Davis Bunn: Isabella and I marked a turning in our own outreach when we were invited by a seminary in Easy Germany to travel there about a week after the Berlin Wall fell. We arrived the day the East German government granted permission for churches to open after they’d been shuttered for 40 years.

We walked to what had been the main cathedral in the city and saw a young man standing in the doorway. He was staring at a poster that showed fields blowing in the wind and had the Bible verse, John 3:16. The young man looked at the words in absolute, complete confusion. He’d never seen them before.

During that moment, my wife and I both got the sense that this type of ministry was where we wanted to be.

More Q&A

Check out more Q&A posts at and purchase Emissary at

Why are you using a pen name?”

How do you hope to encourage EMISSARY readers?

What is “epic fantasy for modern readers”?

Who are your favorite fantasy authors?

Enter the ‘Emissary’ Sweepstakes

January 10th, 2015

Emissary, the first book in the Legends of the Realm epic fantasy series, released January 6, 2015. This series is published under my pen name, Thomas Locke. (Here’s an explanation of why I’m using a pseudonym).

I invite you to enter my month-long giveaway of limited-edition artwork prizes featuring the Emissary cover art.

EmissaryEnterToWin_1200x628 high res


I’ll be giving away multiple prizes each week to U.S. residents who enter the sweepstakes at, or right here on my blog:

You can enter once per email address per day. You get bonus entries when your Facebook and Twitter friends enter, and you get additional bonus entries when you like the Facebook page of one of our partners. It’s all explained on the entry page at

If you don’t use Facebook, you can enter the Sweepstakes by leaving a comment on the Official Rules page. Be sure to include your email address with your comment so I’ll know how to contact you if you win.


Throughout January, I’ll be doing several “Flash” giveaways on the Thomas Locke Facebook page, You could win a copy of Emissary or other fun prizes by liking a photo update during each one-day giveaway.

Be sure to visit Thomas Locke’s Facebook page daily (from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Pacific Time) during January to see if there’s a Flash giveaway that day.