The Dawn in my Heart

Stolen from his home, the German warrior Atretes only wishes to kill Romans and return to his home. But he will not return without the child he had with Julia Valerian. He wants his son back…but Hadassah delivered the babe into the hands of a strong Christian woman called Rizpah, who does not wish to part with the child she calls her son.

Francine Rivers novel, As Sure as the Dawn, concludes her phenomenal three book Mark of the Lion series.

Driven by hatred for the Romans, but love for his people, Atretes only wants to go home. Julia broke him when she refused to marry him, and he will never let that happen again. In his mind, every woman in Ephesus is like Julia…but then he meets Rizpah.

Rizpah is a young widow who recently lost her child. When the slave girl, Hadassah, brought the unwanted baby to her, she knew that the child was a gift from the Lord. A gift to fill the emptiness she now felt without her husband and child. But the baby boy’s father wants him back, and Rizpah fears she will lose the child she has come to love and see as her own.

Atretes takes Caleb away from the woman, but the child will not be content with the wet nurse that Atretes hired. Bringing Rizpah back could be a mistake, Atretes knows this, but what choice does he have? The baby will die without his mother. And even though Atretes doesn’t like to think of Rizpah as his son’s mother, there’s no denying that Caleb recognizes the woman’s touch and calms when she holds him.

But now Rizpah is even more afraid then before. Atretes wishes to return to his home in Germania. And if she wishes to remain with Caleb…then she will have to go too. But how can she? How can she travel with this big, strong and, might she add, handsome German warrior who spent eleven years of his life fighting as a gladiator? Who hates Romans and who had an affair with Julia Valerian? Rizpah has only her faith in God to sustain her.

Atretes doesn’t truly believe in any god anymore. The god of his people, Tiwaz, deserted him when the Romans captured him. But when the young slave girl, Hadassah, told him that his salvation was near the night before she was thrown to the lions, his dream of a man holding bloody palms out to him stays with him. Hadassah said the man was Jesus…but Atretes can’t bring himself to believe in Rizpah and Hadassah’s God.

Rizpah and Atretes’ journey together is often tested, especially with the arrival of a Roman called Theophilus, who is determined to go to Germania with them and bring the scriptures to Atretes’ people. Atretes is determined to kill Theophilus before the journey is over, but Rizpah has befriended her fellow believer, and fears for him. She also fears the heightened attraction between her and Atretes. Is he truly falling in love with her? Or does he look at her like he looked at Julia?

Atretes desire for Rizpah is strong. He wants her, but she denies him and that frustrates him. What’s wrong with the woman, anyway? Does she believe so deeply in her God that it will keep them apart?

And then Atretes learns of Rizpah’s past…a past that Rizpah herself would rather forget. And it angers him. He feels betrayed and Rizpah fears that she will lose both him and Caleb.

Warning!! Major spoilers below!

But with the dark, always comes the light. When Rizpah is struck down by an enemy tribe of Germans, death stares Atretes in the face…and with a single prayer from Theophilus, Rizpah awakens from the dead. Atretes eyes, once clouded with doubt and hatred, are opened to the faithfulness and love of God.

Unfortunately, their difficulties have only just begun. Rizpah and Atretes marry, but when they come to Atretes’ village, they are faced with rejection. Especially by the flawless beauty, Anomia, who is revered as a goddess in the village and who wants Atretes for herself. Her goal is to destroy the marriage between Rizpah and Atretes and claim the man for her husband.

And Atretes mother also is confused. Freyja has been possessed by evil for long enough and Theophilus wishes to reach her heart and tell her of the love of God. When some of the people start coming to him in the night, not allowing him to see their faces, he believes he’s succeeding…but Anomia has evil plans in mind for him as well.

When it seems that Anomia has succeeded, when hope is so scarce for Rizpah…when it seems that they will kill her, as has been planned by the wicked Anomia from the beginning, Atretes realizes that being amongst his people has pushed him farther from the God he now trusts. His faith had weakened under the influence of his people…but has this realization come too late to save Rizpah’s life?

As Sure as the Dawn, was a powerful story of faith. Atretes journey was long and hard. This last book was a little slower then the first two. It took me a longer time to finish then the others did, but believe me when I say it was worth it! The conclusion of Atretes’ story was amazing! The faith of Rizpah never faltered. Like Hadassah, she stood tall and strong, ready to face the lions.

The struggles of immorality were strong in this book. Atretes led a very immoral life and since Rizpah became a Christian she has lived a life that would please the Lord. However, the casual affairs that took place back then were very common, especially between masters and their slaves. Such a subject could put a stumbling block in ones path, in which case these might not be the books for you.

The Mark of the Lion series is the best series I have ever read. The strength of the characters, and the faith they possessed was beautiful. Francine Rivers draws you into the story, and makes you know the characters so well that you ache for them and by the time the novel is coming to a close, you’re on the edge of your seat.

Reading this book was like feeling the first rays of the dawn burning in my heart. That beautiful feeling that a new day had begun. Everything was new, fresh and beautiful by the time this book came to a close, and I felt the incredible joy of the characters in my heart.

So, if you want to find out if Atretes saves Rizpah from death and renews his faith in God to its fullest…you’ll just have to read As Sure as the Dawn for yourself!!

Coming Soon: She’s a teacher trying to get her head out of the clouds…he’s a rancher with a child who’s not spoken a word since her mother’s death. Together, can they restore a child’s joy, along with her voice? Look for my review of Head in the Clouds, by Karen Witemeyer, soon!!


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