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Why These Books?

Historical Fiction —
Ancient Greece & Rome

From the Old Testament era to ancient Rome to the Dark Ages--from crusader castles to frontier settlements to Federal era ships, these books run the gamut of Western history. Tale after tale of adventure brings these various historical epochs to life again with inspiring and unforgettable characters.

Ages 12 and up

The Daughters of Pola
by John Mason Neale
Daughter of a noble Roman family, Agnella had heard tell of the foul practices of the Christians. Everyone knew that they murdered infants and drank their blood from silver vessels. They venerated a criminal who died ignominiously on a cross. They worshipped a god with the head of an ass. What good person wouldn’t despise such a vile sect? When Diocletian Augustus declared that all must offer sacrifice to the immortal gods, Agnella’s father, Marcus Acilius Dolabella, præfect of Histria, was quick to put the emperor’s command into effect. Little could he imagine that the death of a single elderly slave from his own household would not only upset his plan, but also lead his own daughter down a path where her actions would provide seed for the burgeoning Christian Church. 

Paperback ~ 156 pp. ~ $13.95 with 10% discount, $12.56

Ages 12 and up

Centurion’s Daughter
by Justin Swanton
Her Frankish mother dead, 17-year-old Aemilia arrives at Soissons in Roman Gaul in search of her Roman father whom she has never met. She knows only that his name is Tarunculus and that he is a former centurion. She finds an old man fixed on the past, attempting in vain to kindle a spark of patriotism in his countrymen. Soon, Aemilia is caught up in her father’s schemes to save the Empire and the intrigues of the Roman nobility in Soissons. In the war between Franks and Romans to decide the fate of the last imperial province, Providence will lead her down a path she could never have imagined. Written and illustrated by master storyteller Justin Swanton, Centurion’s Daughter is a thoughtful and compelling journey to a little-known period of history when an empire fell and the foundations of Christendom were laid.”

Paperback ~ 248 pp. ~ $17.95 with 10% discount, $16.16

Ages 12 and up

Book I: The First Shall Be Last
by Paolo A. Belzoni
“A great new resource for those of you ‘reading your way through history.’...What I really like about this telling of the story is that it is not a white-washed version of the times, or of Belisarius. His virtue is portrayed sensibly without making him appear overly perfect. He is an appealing character, one the reader sympathizes with and roots for. He is often put in situations that appear impossible; many obstacles—from incompetent fellow commanders to conspiring politicians—frustrate his purpose. But, while he is not always victorious, he acquits himself well and his honor increases. The author weaves in a great view of the historical time period in Byzantium: the state of the cities, “the factions,” the movement and assimilation of the barbarians, and the politics of the Empire. The descriptions of the battle scenes are not dry and incomprehensible, but very readable and interesting.”
Favorite Resources for Catholic Homeschoolers Blog

Paperback ~ 248 pp. ~ $14.95 with 10% discount, $13.46

Ages 12 and up

Book II: Glory of the Romans
by Paolo A. Belzoni
His tremendous victory over the Persians at the Battle of Daras wins Belisarius the adulation of a victory-starved empire but also the envy of his peers in Constantinople. The emperor Justinian now tasks his gifted young general with an even more difficult assignment: a campaign against the powerful Vandal kingdom in North Africa. But before Belisarius can set out on this seemingly impossible mission, he must prove his loyalty amid the ruins of a capital shattered by rebellion. Glory of the Romans continues the epic tale of Belisarius, the last great general of the Roman Empire. Aided by his resourceful wife, Antonina, and his stalwart band of 'biscuit-eaters', Belisarius strives to build the most formidable army fielded by the Roman Empire in over a century. But his drive and determination breed only suspicion in the empress Theodora and jealousy in the palace chamberlain, Narses.  From the desert wastes of Mesopotamia, to the riot-torn streets of Constantinople, to the crumbling walls of ancient Carthage, Glory of the Romans follows the daring exploits of Belisarius as his fame increases and his virtues are put to the test.

Paperback ~ 300 pp. ~ $16.95 with 10% discount, $15.25

Ages 12 and up

Book III: Rome the Eternal
by Paolo A. Belzoni
In one brilliant campaign, Belisarius has crushed the Vandal kingdom and restored Africa to the Roman Empire. But the ambitious emperor Justinian has more glorious exploits planned for his audacious Master of Soldiers. The emperor can not rest until Italy and the Eternal City of Rome are restored to his empire. But it is not mere flesh and blood that oppose Belisarius in his Italian campaign. Can Belisarius gain his greatest triumph with so many thrones and dominions, principalities and powers arrayed against him?
     Rome the Eternal is the third volume of the Belisarius series, continuing the tale of Justinian’s greatest general. A work of historical fiction that sticks close to the ancient sources, Rome the Eternal brings the often obscure Byzantine 6th century to vibrant life for readers of all ages. It is especially well-suited for young readers interested in the triumphs and tragedies of the Christian Roman Empire.

Paperback ~ 472 pp. ~ $21.95 with 10% discount, $19.76

Ages 12 and up

Between the Forest and the Hills
A Historical Fantasy
by Ann Lawrence
The times are changing fast in Roman Britain. With the Western Empire collapsing, the legions have been withdrawn and the British have been told that they're on their own. Saxons encroachments have disrupted ancient lines of communication leaving many towns isolated and at the mercy of the barbarians. But some towns, like Iscium, are remote enough to remain at peace--for a while, anyway.
     An excellent, character-driven novel, Between the Forest and the Hills tells the story of how the fictional late-Roman town of Iscium survives the end of the Roman Empire and the emergence of the Saxons. Memorable characters abound, such as Falx, a virtuous if careless Roman boy; Malleus, the grumbly bishop; and Ulna, a wide-eyed barbarian girl, wise in her innocence. The Saxon chieftain Torcula is fierce yet reasonable, while the mysterious Teres, like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings, seems to turn up whenever he is most needed. But the most endearing characters of all may be Hrudin and Concha, the loquacious ravens..

Paperback ~ 247 pp. ~ $12.95 with 5% discount, $12.30
Between the Forest
                      and the Hills

Ages 14 and up

Citadel of God
A Novel about Saint Benedict
by Louis de Wohl
The Roman Empire in the West has fallen and Italy is under the government of the Gothic king, Theoderich. But the Romans who make up the majority of the population are chaffing under the barbarian yoke. The Young Lions in the Roman senate talk quietly of freedom, but the elders among them urge caution. When a young Roman boy, Peter, makes a clumsy assassination attempt against Theoderich, he is injured in body and spirit, nursing a grudge against the Goths. He is subsequently entrusted to the gifted young teacher, Benedictus, to see to his moral education. Thus begins Citadel of God, a wonderful book by Louis de Wohl. Originally written in 1959, the work is a gripping journey through the history of the early 6th century AD. St. Benedict is portrayed as a humble wonder-worker inspired by God and driven to do great things for His greater honor and glory alone. But surrounding the Benedict story is the entire panoply of late Roman history--the triumphs and tragedies of the Justinianic era.

Paperback ~ 436 pp. ~ $17.95 with 5% discount, $17.05

Ages 12 and up

Exiles of the Cebenna
by John Mason Neale
Told from the perspective of Aurelius Gratian, a Priest of the holy Church of God, The Exiles of the Cebenna is a moving account of the community of Christians in the Church of Arles during the Decian persecution (249-251 AD). Written in lively 19th century English by John Mason Neale and annotated by Paidea Classics for contemporary readers, the tale weaves together the tribulations of the Christians who remained in Arles for the persecution with the experiences of those who, led by Father Gratian, dared an escape from the city. The Exiles of the Cebenna is at once a suspenseful adventure story and an especially heartening lesson to inspire and fortify children for the life of faith that all true followers of Christ are called upon to live.

Paperback ~ 132 pp. ~ $7.95 with 5% discount, $7.55
Exiles of the Cebenna

Ages 10 and up

Egyptian Wanderers
A Story for Children of the Great Tenth Persecution
by John Mason Neale

This tale is based on a passage from the first historian of the Church, Eusebius Pamphilus who wrote of "the multitude of them that wandered in the deserts and mountains, and perished by hunger, and thirst, and cold, and diseases, and robbers, and wild beasts." During the furious persecution of Diocletian, the Egyptian deserts were filled with confessors, most of whom perished there. This story begins at the library of Saint Catherine's Monastery where the narrator finds an ancient tattered volume telling of one family's struggle of faith as they flee into the wilderness. The anecdotes occasionally introduced are taken from the early ecclesiastical historians or from the martyrologies.

Paperback ~ 230 pp. ~ $16.95 with 5% discount, $16.10
Egyptian Wanderers

Ages 14 and up

The Restless Flame
A Novel about Saint Augustine
by Louis de Wohl
In his vigorous and inimitable style, Louis de Wohl tells the story of St. Augustine's transformation from a vain, sensual youth to the brilliant, devout writer and theologian -- the man who conquered himself as completely as he did the adversaries of the Church -- whose literary and philosophical masterpieces were to dominate Western thought for a thousand years. He has carefully re-created the exciting historical background of the time -- the turbulent atmosphere of the Roman Empire in the last days of decadence -- skillfully weaving together the personalities whose lives closely affected Augustine: Monica, his saintly and heroic mother; majestic Ambrose, Bishop of Milan; and many others whom lend richness and depth to the life story of this great Doctor of the Church.

Paperback ~ 304 pp. ~ $17.95 with 5% discount, $17.05

Ages 12 and up

by Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman
Cardinal Wiseman's classic story of the Christian persecution under Emperor Diocletian in the 300s AD. Fabiola is perplexed by the new-found faith of her cousin Agnes as well as her servant, but is especially intrigued when she finds the noblest Roman soldier she knows, Sebastian, is also a Christian. In this moving description of the Roman catacombs and the captured Christians who faced cruel death with unearthly fortitude, a story of faith and renewal unfolds in the decaying Roman empire during the last great persecution of the Church before the advent of Constantine.

Paperback ~ 444 pp. ~ $21.95 with 5% discount, $20.85

Ages 12 and up

The Laviniad
by Claudio R. Salvucci
"The Laviniad is a truly unique work; the story is unique and the book itself is unique....The author successfully writes in the style of the ancient epic in modern English. Lovers of classic tales will really appreciate the poetry and the plot. The poem reads easily and naturally with the flow and flavor of the ancient epics. A complete glossary in the back will help anyone who has not read the Aeneid or the Iliad to understand the relationship of the characters and the various names of the Greeks, Trojans, and Latins."
—Favorite Resources for Catholic Homeschoolers

Paperback ~ 133 pp. ~ $11.95 with 10% discount, $10.76

Ages 10 and up

Spring Tide
by Mary Ray
It is AD 311 in West Britain and even in this far-flung province of the Roman Empire, Christians are not safe from renewed imperial persecution. At Caer Taff—modern-day Cardiff—a brief skirmish against a marauding tribe, the Deisi, develops into a more dangerous struggle between the new religion and the dominant pagan culture of the local Roman fort. Two friends, Julius and Con, meet and befriend Brychan, a young Christian priest, who is later captured and imprisoned at the base camp of the legion. Torn between obedience to parental orders and the demands of friendship, the boys resolve to help him escape. Aided by Aaron the Hebrew, a Roman soldier who has secretly converted to Christianity after witnessing the martyrdom of St. Alban seven years earlier, they set out to rescue Brychan—but with unexpectedly grave consequences. This thoughtful story explores the last persecution of Christians during Roman times, immediately before Constantine's Edict of Milan.

Paperback ~ 200 pp. ~ $12.95 with 5% discount, $12.30
Spring Tide

Ages 10 and up

City of the Golden House
by Madeleine A. Polland
Twelve year old Gretorix is a slave from far off Britain. His master, Justus, has bestowed him upon Diomed, a Roman boy who is paralyzed from the neck down. The only thing keeping young Diomed alive is the hope that someday he'll be cured of his paralysis. When he hears that all Rome is abuzz with the teaching and miracles of the Galilean Simon Peter, Diomed sends his faithful Gretorix to find out all he can about the man and his God, Christus. But trouble is brewing in the Eternal City. The profligate emperor Nero is at the height of his decadence, and the people are grumbling over the exorbitant taxes he requires to live his lifestyle. When a huge fire breaks out in the city, Nero desperately searches for someplace to pin the blame. With advice from his wicked Praetorian, Tigellenus, Nero falsely accuses the followers of Simon Peter--a shadowy sect known as Christians.

Paperback ~ 297 pp. ~ $14.95 with 5% discount, $14.20
City of the
                      Golden House

Ages 10 and up

Lion in the Gateway
by Mary Renault
Subtitled, The Heroic Battles of the Greeks and Persians at Marathon, Salamis, and Thermopylae, this is a great retelling of those epic ancient battles which shaped the course of Western Civilization. All the great characters are there: Darius and Xerxes, the Persian Kings; the Greeks Themistocles, Alcibiades, and the Spartan for whom the book is named, Leonides, and many others. The book begins with the historical roots of the people of Ancient Greece and how they came to love their freedom more than anything else. Recommended for ages 9 - 12.

Paperback ~ 132 pp. ~ $14.95 with 5% discount, $14.20
Lion in the

Ages 12 and up

Word to Caesar
by Geoffrey Trease
Set in Imperial Rome, a teenaged boy travels across the Empire from his home in Britain to seek an audience with the new emperor, Hadrian. Along the way he meets up with the villains who are trying to stop him, a famous charioteer who helps him, apathetic solicitors who won't help him, and finally the emperor Hadrian himself. At every step of his adventure, he remains loyal, demonstrates courage and prudence, and does not give up even when the odds against him seem impossible. This is a reprint of an edition printed in Canada especially for use in schools. At the end of each chapter there are comprehension, discussion, and language questions.

Paperback ~ 286 pp. ~ $14.95 with 5% discount, $14.20
Word to Caesar

Ages 10 and up

Augustine Came to Kent
by Barbara Willard
It is the year 597 and Pope Gregory is sending a select number of his monks, led by Fr. Augustine, to re-evangelize England. Young Wolf, born in that land but raised in Rome, accompanies his father, Wolfstan, who goes as a guide and interpreter. Though the King of Kent's wife is a Christian, the missionaries from Rome do not know whether they will be welcomed, tolerated or martyred. In a story full of adventure, Wolf meets Fritha, a Saxon girl whose life and destiny are soon closely bound up with his own. Events, significant in the history of Christianity, are vividly brought to life by this veteran writer of historical fiction.

Paperback ~ 178 pp. ~ $13.95 with 5% discount, $13.25
Augustine Came to

Ages 14 and up

The Ides of April
by Mary Ray
Hylas is a young Greek slave in the household of Caius Pomponius, a Roman senator involved in dangerous political schemes. When the senator is found mysteriously murdered, the household slaves fall under suspicion. Hylas escapes capture long enough to enlist the aid of a young tribune, Camillus Rufus. Attempting to unravel the threads of intrigue before the summary execution of the slaves, Camillus is brought before Nero himself and Hylas discovers the new secret sect known as the Christians.

Paperback ~ 184 pp. ~ $11.95 with 5% discount, $11.35

Ages 14 and up

Beyond the Desert Gate
by Mary Ray
The sequel to The Ides of April, Beyond the Desert Gate is set in first century Palestine. The Jews have revolted against Roman occupation and the ten Greek cities of Palestine are caught in the middle. Conan, Nicanor, and Philo are left almost penniless after the death of murder of their father. Philo is befriended by Xenos, a man the brothers had saved from the desert who had lost his memory. Together they try to find their identity, one from the past, the other for the future.

Paperback ~ 190 pp. ~ $11.95 with 5% discount, $11.35

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