Book Review of From Afar by Roger Thomas
The Magi, or Three Kings, of the Nativity story are among the best loved yet most mysterious figures in all history. The fleeting and sparse account in St. Matthew’s Gospel raises as many questions as it answers. It has been so embroidered over the centuries that the original historical context has been almost completely buried. Yet the world of the early first century was as dynamic and intriguing as any legend – and much more perilous.
In his compelling novelization of the journey of the Magi, Roger Thomas draws on Scripture, history, and modern research. This swift-moving tale brings these shadowed figures to vivid life. You meet them as men of their time and culture: learned and noble, yet experienced with a brutal world and even violent when necessary. Come with them as they search for a King they do not understand, and seek for answers to questions lying in the deepest parts of their souls – providing they survive the dangers of the journey.
I loved this fascinating fictional look into the Three Wise Men. While we all know of these three mysterious men, there is little that is actually known about them. The author takes us on a fictional journey into how these men knew about the birth of a King and why they were interested in a Jewish king. I was expecting an interesting story but was blown away by this exciting, adventurous tale that I couldn’t put down.
Historic fiction is always so interesting. Getting a glimpse into another time period is a wonderful learning tool. From Afar really brought to light the environment into which Jesus was born. The evil corruption of Herod and the communities that worshiped pagan gods. Even though this is a work of fiction, it offers possible explanations to questions in the story that I didn’t even know I had.
These three brilliant men and colleagues have each been searching for something. One has spent his career in the military looking for pure strength and harmony. One has been studying all the different religions of the world, searching for the light of the divine in man. And one has been studying ancient scriptures and writings searching for Truth and constancy. These unsettled quests and their study of the constellations leads them on an epic journey.
The characters were fantastic. The three wise men were all so unique. Melchior, the elder, gentle teacher. The brilliant Balthazar. And my favorite – the brave and youthful Gaspar. There were two fantastic supporting characters, a soldier and a young boy that really helped keep the story moving. And, even though they only show up at the end of the story, I absolutely loved how Mary and Joseph were portrayed.
I will never think of the three wise men in the same way ever again. Fantastic book.
A note from Reviewer:
As a writer and a mother, I’m always searching for wonderful Christian books for teens of all ages. I truly believe one way we can encourage teens in their faith is through fiction with positive messages, embedded in great stories. There are many fantastic Christian and Catholic teen novels out today but they can be hard to find. I’m excited to share some of these books with you.