Bless the Child by David J. West
Impelled by a quest for redemption, the man known only as The Spartan finds unholy work in The Holy Land. And work is good, there is no end of service amongst kings and robber barons for a man who sells his sword so well. But blood won’t wash away blood and The Spartan finds himself compelled toward something greater than himself. Bless The Child is a romance of redemption and glory. Numerous historical personages cross paths with The Spartan, including Solon, Nebuchadnezzar, the prophets Lehi, Jeremiah and Daniel, King Zedekiah and the poetess Sappho. Come back to 586 B.C. when Jerusalem burned and the life of a prince rested in the hands of the exiled Spartan. Can a mercenary trained only for war become an instrument of peace?
David J. West again (see Heroes of the Fallen) dives into a historical Mormon framework to weave a solid historical fiction tale.
The Spartan narrator of this story is a great character. A warrior by nature, and exile by honorable choice, the mercenary life is all he knows or wants. We follow his journey to find purpose, from the depths of working for men he despises to finding reasons to fight that have greater meaning. Along the way we see some solid combat and action, learn a haunting, tragic backstory, and meet historical characters.
As a story structure, allowing time gaps between the acts of the novel worked, but it did create some moments of telling rather than showing. Certain characters appeared and disappeared off-stage, as it were.
I particularly enjoyed the third act of the novel as the tension heightened and the action kept coming. It is written in present tense, but it is one of those rare cases where the verb tense shift worked. It definitely gave the tale a sudden immediacy.
Overall Bless the Child is a good read, And I think David's ability to write a novel length tale improved over Heroes of the Fallen.
And hey - all proceeds on this one go to charity, so if you're considering it, you should go ahead and buy it.