Dashed to Pieces

Dashed to Pieces: A Tale of the Roman Prince Virgilius, 1871, by A.L.O.E. Published by Lamplighter Books; 96 pages.

Before beginning my review, it seems necessary to put in a good word for Lamplighter Books. They are a publishing company that prints and republishes old stories which were no longer in print. Most of the stories are from the 19th and early 20th centuries, but there are also stories from the late 18th century as well. The founder, at the time a newly converted Christian, developed a love for Christian literature, and in 1994, Lamplighter was born.

I recently purchased three books from Lamplighter, and this book, Dashed to Pieces, is the first one I’ve read. It’s author, who wrote under the acronym A.L.O.E. for “A Lady of England” was actually Charlotte Maria Tucker, a prolific author of several books during her writing career. Dashed to Pieces, is one of her shorter works.

Virgilius is a Roman soldier, patrician by birth, and a man of high rank during the time when Christianity’s spread was causing trouble throughout the Roman empire. He is the father of two daughters. The older Virgilia is a grieving young widow whose husband was killed by robbers. The younger Hebe is a beautiful but spoiled girl who loves the idyllic life her father’s rank affords her. Neither of them realize that their lives are about to change forever.

Also in Virgilius’ home are Mahala, a Jewess who works for him as a servant and attendant to his younger daughter, and Seyd, a slave whom Virgilius saved from execution for running away from his former master. Early on we learn that Mahala is a devoted follower of Christ. Seyd’s commitment is strongest to Virgilius, built on the foundation of gratitude and brotherhood more than shared faith. Seyd has no intention of becoming a Christian. Besides being foolish, it was illegal.

When Virgilius converts to Christianity, his perception of what is important changes, and it is not long before he is called to account for his rejection of Roman gods in favor of the Nazarene crucified at Calvary. As a Roman citizen, there are limits to the punishment he can receive, but he and his family still pay a high price for their Christian commitment.

This book is overtly Christian with many Scripture references, but vivid imagery and vibrant story telling. A.L.O.E. offers intense imagery in her description of the perilous lives of the earliest Christians. Hated by the Jews and often hunted by the Romans, the title character walks a fine line until he is challenged to stand up and boldly declare his faith.

Lamplighter’s collection includes many titles from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries for readers of all ages. I bought several recently, and am looking forward to reading more. All of the books are bound in a very attractive and durable hard cover; the kind of books you want to see on your bookshelf.

Dashed to Pieces was a great read.