"Tyrant - Rise of the Beast - Chronicles of the Apocalypse Book One", By Brian Godawa, 2017, Warrior Poet Publishing

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OldSchoolPresbyterian

Puritan Board Freshman
Tyrant is part one of a four-part series on Revelation - "Chronicles of the Apocalypse". The genre is historical fiction. Brian Godawa, a believing and reformed Christian, presents a fictional development of events in Jerusalem and Rome from the time of the apostles post-resurrection up through the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans armies in 70 A.D. Tyrant is based on the Bible but also other historical sources and includes many fictional elements.

Godawa has written numerous novels on Biblical topics, as well as many screenplays.

I strongly recommend Tyrant. The book is truly remarkable. It's an enthralling, thrilling, and exciting novel - a real page-turner. At the same time, it's quite Biblical and orthodox. It makes ancient history come alive. Much of the storyline consists of the Romans trying to track down and destroy various letters written by the apostle John, what would turn out to be Revelation and 1 John, and the Romans coercing Christians in this effort.

In particular, the character development is brilliant. Godawa sucks in the reader in following the twists and turns involving the various fascinating characters. The characters include Alexander, a Jewish physician who works for a Roman prefect. Alexander is initially very critical of the early Christians, is not opposed to their persecution, and is intent on deflecting Roman persecution from his Jewish brethren to the early Christians. However, Alexander's views evolve of the course of the novel, particularly as he learns more about what Christians believe and gets to know some of the Christians well. Another key character is Severus, Roman prefect who hunts down and persecutes Christians. Even Severus, however, Godawa presents as a complex character who at times may earn some sympathy from the reader. For example, one of the key Christian characters saves the life of Severus's son. Cassandra, a Christian heiress of her father's merchant shipping company, is a key character. She is a devoted Christian who struggles with the practical implications of Roman persecution. Nero, the Roman emperor, is a critical character in the novel. Godawa vividly brings out Nero's immorality and wickedness in stark and gruesome terms.

The novel is very Biblical and orthodox, in that there are numerous citations of Bible passages. The characters themselves constantly refer to Scriptures, either directly through quotations or through allusions and general references. For example, the corruption of the temple worship system and the depravity of the Jewish religious leadership is a major theme of the novel. As presented in Tyrant, quite often, the Jewish religious leaders would conspire with Rome, or at least assist Rome, in efforts to stamp out early Christianity.

Godawa also works into the novel various aspects of the spiritual realm. Specifically, Satan, demons, and angels are key characters and are heavily involved in the human realm. This is particularly true as it relates to the widespread idolatry and false gods that were prevalent throughout the Roman empire at this time. Pagan temples are vividly described in the novel.

Another item of note is Godawa's striking description of the widespread fire in Rome in 64 AD, Nero's scheme to blame this on the Christians, and the subsequent torture and death of Christians in the Roman Colosseum. For instance, it was horrifying to read about the Romans wrapping Christians in dead animal skins and having them eaten alive by wild dogs and other vicious beasts.

Godawa includes the added benefit of hundreds of end notes. These notes were often quite detailed. There are numerous citations, references, and quotes from the Bible itself (Matthew chapters 23-24, Daniel, and Revelation are quite prominent, for instance), Bible commentaries (such as Clinton Arnold), and various scholarly material (such as George Edmundson), most of which focused on ancient Roman history. Godawa quotes often from books by Ken Gentry and Gary Demar. Godawa is coming from a partial-preterist perspective so most of Revelation is fulfilled in 70 AD. Nevertheless, the book can still be quite enjoyable and edifying for historicists, futurists, and idealists. Michael Heiser is also quoted extensively. Similarly, Godawa quotes numerous ancient sources such as Josephus, Tacitus, Seneca, and Suetonius, particularly where discussing the persecution of Christians and the apostacy of Israel at this time. It's essentially two books in one - the historical fiction for the entertaining and riveting story and the endnotes for the detailed, non-fiction analysis underpinning the story.

I will now have to buy and read the next three books in the series!

(Full disclosure: I'm friends with Brian Godawa, so I admit that this may have influenced my review)
 
I haven’t read any of his fiction (yet). I found his “Hollywood Worldviews” most helpful.
 
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I read the first three or so of his Nephilim series. It's not that the writing was bad, but it came off like a "script." That makes sense, since Godawa is actually a screenwriter. I gave him an A+ for content and ideas, a C for execution. I might post those reviews.
 
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