Friday, September 28, 2007

The Phoenix Circle by Boris Raymond

'The Phoenix Circle' by Dr. Boris Raymond is an engrossing and insightful novel that examines the changes occurring in western civilization as the Roman Empire succumbs to barbarian encroachment and the growing power of Christianity and dominance of spiritual philosophy in social experience.

Dr. Raymond, a professor of history, sociology, and library science at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, shares his in-depth knowledge of the period artfully, providing a tactile context for each event and insight into the thoughts and ideas that motivated the key players during this period. His characters are well developed and he changes scenes deftly without confusing the reader or disrupting the overall continuity of his tale.

I particularly found his examination of the various conflicts within the early Christian church interesting. He shows us how the princes of the church struggled for supremacy almost like rival Roman generals vying for the scepter and how the church was impacted by changes in secular power when rulers or their consorts supported or opposed various theological positions. We feel the tension of a society whose people, like Attila's hapless secretary, must have felt like they were tied spread-eagled to four horses precariously controlled by duplicitous power brokers from both church and state.

Dr. Raymond’s "The Phoenix Circle" reflects the growth of the author in his understanding of the genre of historical fiction since the release of his first book "The Twelfth Vulture of Romulus" and I recommend this work to Roman history enthusiasts and anyone with an interest in how events of late antiquity forged the society we have inherited.