Excellently Written, Defeatist Propaganda
In the later years of the Eastern Roman Empire written works and poems infiltrated the culture of the people that corrupted the minds of Roman women to believe their men were weak and the Turks naturally strong and desirable. This book does the same cleverly using parallels from the last grasp of Western Rome and destruction of American Culture in the present age.
The book portends to tell a tale of a God fearing loyal daughter who stands by her father through thick and thin. In fact all of the reviews tell the same but couldn't be farther from the truth. All along the way not only is her father's cause ridiculed mercilessly and he a patriot for Rome savaged idoicly but she every step of the way betrays her father, her town, and her country with her confused Christian faith grounds for the cause. The inevitability of barbarian rule in the weak accepting mind of a woman has her undermine her father's cause, labeling its patriots naive, and make the reader think it was God's Will the godless prevail. In a period of reflection the reader is brought through her thoughts that ridicule a former weak crush on a Roman mommas boy she betrays and finds the "natural love" that all women should have in the strong powerful men you should betray your home for.
This is a well written book, one of the best written I've read recently but propaganda works best when accepted as a great work and one it is. I wouldn't be surprised if Leftists in education make it standard reading. Don't let your young women read this Satanic mind bender. They need no help in our day to believe their people and culture doomed and God working with our enemies. If you want to take away a lesson from this book learn no woman should ever have anything to do with raising a man past the age of seven. In the history of the world there was only one woman pure and just and she gave birth to God. There will never be another one. How do you raise men when the women are corrupted? They should have nothing to do with it to begin with, nor should this book be read unless you have a basic grasp of how propaganda works and want to expand your knowledge of it.
And here is the reply:
This is a compelling though strange review. While I don't begrudge the reviewer his opinion on the matter, I suspect he has misinterpreted some of what the author is attempting to do in this book. For starters, the comparison between Western Rome and American culture might be apt if the author was American. However, the author's bio clearly says he's from South Africa and so is quite obviously not commenting on American culture--perhaps South African culture, but that is a different kettle of fish entirely.
Calling the book a "Satanic mind bender" is also truly bizarre. If one knows anything about the history of the fall of the Western Empire, it is not all doom-and-gloom--even for the large numbers of Romans who survived it. The Franco-roman culture which emerged in the aftermath of the fall ended up being beneficial for both sides, combining the culture and religion of the otherwise enervated Western Empire with the vitality and strength of the Franks. The France that was created from this amalgam became the Eldest Daughter of the Church and a source of Western Christian cultural, artistic, philosophical, religious and political dynamism for over 1,000 years afterward.
As for the characters and how the author developed them, I came away from reading this book with a totally different view than the reviewer. I felt that the Centurion (the father) was portrayed very sympathetically. The reader (at least this reader) consistently felt an affinity for him as he steadfastly pursued his doomed cause. As the archetypal grumbly old man, I thought he was described perfectly. He rises to the occasion at the crisis of the book and demonstrates his valor even as all those around him turn coward. His tragic flaw, however, emerges in his signal inability to accept the inevitable and his expectation that others--including his daughter--will join him in his maniacal quest to revive a defunct political arrangement that few others believed in anymore. At that point, he is no more patriotic than the KKK in the aftermath of the Civil War.
Neither did I feel that Aemilia was in any way weak-willed. Like her father, she is shown to be intelligent and valorous, but her worldview is colored by the optimism of youth--the desire to make the best of whatever situation she finds herself in. I thought the author did a wonderful job portraying this and the contrast between young Aemilia and her old centurion father is more a universal statement about generational differences in outlook than a criticism of Western civilization. I think the reviewer is reading much too much into that.
If the key theme of Centurion's Daughter could be summed up in one sentence, it would be this: God brings forth good out of evil. The tale told by Justin Swanton in this book is one of hope springing from tragedy, of the wisdom of God's Providence versus the best laid plans of men, and the unexpected joy that may be found in the midst of suffering. Sure, there are plenty of works of fiction out there that are propaganda for a left-wing, atheist worldview. But to call Centurion's Daughter one of them is to have a fundamental misunderstanding of both the book and of history.
Apologies that this comment has now gotten much longer than I had intended, but I found this review fascinating to the extent that two people can read a book and come away with diametrically opposed conclusions about the message and the author's intentions.