Blood of a Stone
Demetrios, 18, lives in 1st-century Judea, a time and place roiling with different cultures, religions, and change. He’s seen nothing but bad luck as the book opens: he walks with a heavy limp and his father is selling him to a drunken and brutal retired Roman general. The only saving grace will be his fellow slave, Elazer, an older Jewish man who tries to help Demetrios — who begins stealing food from the Roman’s kitchen when he realizes he’s not going to be fed enough. In the midst of a whipping, Demetrios kills the Roman. Elazar saves the day and plans their escape. Now the scene is set for the rest of the book, where the two, posing as free men, traders, make their way along with caravans through the ancient world as they try to make a new life for themselves, with the impetuous Demetrios sabotaging their every step. Elazar eventually meets the followers of Jesus, and then Jesus himself. Gassman has done her homework and brings the ancient world to life in this novel.
It’s very much Demetrios’s story of finding faith; he’s a young man going through terrible trials and all the temptations of the world. I found him incredibly unlikable. Even everymen in the process of maturing sometimes make good decisions, but not the paranoid, whining, impulsive Demetrios. I felt uncomfortably hard-hearted as I got to know the kid, and got to where I was simply worrying about Elazar. I also had a hard time believing that this limping boy would be able to kill the strong and battle-hardened Roman soldier with a stone, or that Demetrios and Elazar would then be able to then disappear into the countryside.