Author Interview and Giveaway – The Conqueror – Bryan Litfin

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Good news for readers who love Francine Rivers’ Mark of the Lion series! Following the stories of a Barbarian warrior, a senator’s daughter, widespread wars and political upheaval, Bryan Litfin’s new Constantine’s Empire series brings readers into the intriguing and perilous realm of fourth century Rome. Welcome to the Index, Bryan!

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It is AD 312. Rome teeters on the brink of war. Constantine’s army is on the move. On the Rhine frontier, Brandulf Rex, a pagan Germanic barbarian, joins the Roman army as a spy and special forces operative. Down in Rome, Junia Flavia, the lovely and pious daughter of a nominally Christian senator, finds herself embroiled in anti-Christian politics as she works on behalf of the church.

As armies converge and forces beyond Rex’s and Flavia’s controls threaten to destroy everything they have worked for, these two people from different worlds will have to work together to bring down the evil Emperor Maxentius. But his villainous plans and devious henchmen are not easily overcome. Will the barbarian warrior and the senator’s daughter live to see the Empire bow the knee to Christ? Or will their part in the story of Constantine’s rise meet an untimely and brutal end?

Travel back to one of the most pivotal eras in history–a time when devotion to the pagan gods was fading and the Roman Empire was being conquered by the sign of the cross.

Bryan’s Website


Questions about Bryan’s Story

What inspired this story?

The ancient church era has so many stories that need to be told! It was a time when the Christian faith was just getting established and was setting the trajectories that would last for the next two thousand years and beyond. The Roman Empire is the perfect setting for a great tale like this. Against a backdrop of corruption and decadence, of imperial power and ruthless cruelty, of pagan temples and their ancient gods, the light of the Christian gospel was beginning to dawn and show a different way. In the early church era, it was time at last for the subjects of Caesar to bow the knee to a new Lord.

If you could be one of your characters, who would you choose to be and why?

I think a lot of men would identify with the main character, Rex, and would want to be like him. He’s a kick-butt warrior, yet a guy with a soft side, too. He’s virile and capable, though not too tough to cry. Although he always tries hard, he doesn’t always get things right. He’s sometimes rash, impetuous, and hot-headed. But when you’re headed into the battle of your life, you want this guy at your side. He naturally protects the vulnerable and honors women. He’s a spiritual man, yet he’s still exploring the Christian God and trying to figure it all out. Rex is a volatile mixture of many masculine traits: brash, cocky, romantic, brave, strong, heroic, stubborn, compassionate . . . a tender warrior if ever there was one. Men want to be like Rex, and women want a Rex in their lives.

What research did you have to look up to make your character(s) authentic?

I think one of the unique things about The Conqueror is that I’ve been researching its subject matter for more than twenty-five years. I have a master’s degree and a doctorate in ancient Christianity. I taught it to undergraduates for sixteen years, and it’s still my professional academic field. I’ve published numerous articles and written several non-fiction books on the subject of the early Christians. I say all this not to brag, but just to point out that I’ve been living in my story world for quite a long time. This means that its themes, its Christian outlook, its theological and historical preoccupations all come naturally to me. Few historical fiction authors are also academics who participate in the scholarly discourse about their chosen era. I hope this background allows me to bring a certain realism to my stories, born from long exposure and intimate familiarity with the ancient church.

What do you hope readers learn from this story?

Christianity is not for the weak of heart! It is for resolute and brave people who take a stand for Christ even when it costs them. No one understood this better than the ancient Christians. Although society might hate the people who profess the Name and demand that they worship other gods, Jesus alone is Lord, and he alone deserves our allegiance. Although he calls us into costly discipleship, his presence goes with us and his resurrection power resides within us. He is worth any sacrifices that we have to make as we follow him toward our heavenly home.


Questions about Bryan’s Reading

What other Christian Historical Novels are similar to yours in setting or storyline?

My Constantine’s Empire trilogy will probably remind some readers of Francine Rivers’s Mark of the Lion series. Both emphasize the grandeur and decadence of ancient Rome during the time when the church was still young. Both focus on the struggles of the early Christians to live faithfully in a culture that hates them. Both recount a sweeping saga in an epic landscape with a diverse cast of aristocrats, barbarians, soldiers, slaves, and everyday Christians. However, there is one key difference: Rivers sets her novels in the first century while mine take place in the fourth. This means that the ancient church has reached a more theologically and liturgically mature stage; and the rise of Emperor Constantine adds an interesting plot twist as he brings persecution to an end and begins the process by which Rome will bow the knee to Christ.

If your job was to sell one author’s historical fiction (besides your own) which author’s wares would you want to peddle? And which is your favorite by that author?

I’m a fan of Stephen R. Lawhead’s work, especially his historical fiction, more so than his fantasy. I really enjoyed his Byzantium. The historical period Lawhead describes is a few centuries after mine, but the setting overlaps: the European and Mediterranean worlds, particularly Byzantium itself. This is the city that Emperor Constantine re-founded as “New Rome,” and which came to be named for him (Constantinople). Lawhead tells an adventurous tale that sweeps across an epic landscape. I also enjoyed his Patrick because it portrays this great Irish saint as a fallen, fallible, and very human hero. (However, I have to admit, I have my doubts that Patrick drew his theology from ancient druidism, as the plot suggests!)

Bryan is giving away one print copy (USA and Canada Only). Enter the Rafflecopter below!

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