Into the Realm of Time
Scott Douglas Prill’s debut novel Into the Realm of Time, unfolds a familiar story-template of ancient Romans-encountering-Christians, a template familiar from such books as Ben-Hur or The Robe.
In AD 372, Roman general Marcus Augustus Valerias is the powerful and cynical master of his military world but has a sensitive inner dimension (at one point telling another character, with only a touch of sarcasm, “Winter is whispering in the winds”) that makes him something of a seeker. In the course of a long and quite atmospheric novel, the General meets a wide variety of people representing different aspects of 4th-century life, including some well-portrayed Christians whose way of life prompts the contemplative strand running underneath the larger action-plot Prill sets in motion.
The main characters are involving and complicated, and the period details are extensively researched, but the book’s strongest point is its in-depth creation of the character of General Valerias himself, whose forcefulness feels all the more believable because of the doubts underlying it. A strong debut.