Book Review: A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

A voice in the wind blog francine rivers book review

The synopsis on the back of the book:

With this opening sentence, A Voice in the Wind transports readers back to Jerusalem during the first Jewish-Roman War, some seventy years after the death of Christ. Following the prides and passions of a group of Jews, Romans and Barbarians living at the time of the siege, the narrative is centered on an ill-fated romance between a steadfast slave girl, Hadassah, and Marcus, the brother of her owner and a handsome aristocrat. After surviving the massacre of her family and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, Hadassah is captured and sold to a well-to-do merchant’s family. Brought to Rome, she is pressed into service as a personal slave to hedonistic Julia Valerian. Hadassah struggles to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and to treat her masters in a manner in keeping with His teachings, but she is forced to keep her religious identity a secret in order to survive. Confused and alone, she has only her faith to cling to as she tries to subtly bring God into the lives of her captors.

Reckless, impulsive, and villainous, Julia tries to undermine Hadassah at every turn. But Julia’s brother, Marcus, is a different sort altogether. Is it possible for a love between Hadassah and Marcus to flourish considering not only their differing stations in life, but also the gap between Hadassah’s unrelenting faith and Marcus’ lack of belief in anything?

Simultaneously, Atretes, a captured soldier from Germania, is forced to become a gladiator. This is the time of Rome’s decline and the decadence of a civilization on the verge of self-destruction serves as a powerful backdrop to the Barbarian’s struggle for survival in the arena.

  • Genre: Biblical Fiction

  • Published: 3/1998

  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

  • Pages: 520

  • Goodreads Rating: 4.56

A Voice In The Wind Francine Rivers Book Review
The city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles.
— Hadassah

Why I Chose This Book

I purchased the box set of this series (Mark of the Lion series) at the beginning of the year. I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to dive into this series. It’s a Christian classic as I have heard. I finally had time in my calendar to read the first book in this series!

First Initial Thoughts

Within the first few pages I was asking myself, “is this really a Christian book?!” This book started off intense with Jerusalem being invaded by the Roman Empire. And Francine does not beat around the bush when it comes to describing it. I don’t know how accurate her writings are but, I didn’t know so many Jews were crucified and killed in the process! it was quite hard to read.

Francine introduces us to Hadassah in these first few pages. Her and her sister are taken by the Empire to be eventually sold as slaves or be taken to the pit to fight. Sadly her sister dies due to starvation. Hadassah is sold to a well to do Roman family, the Valerian’s. Julia Valerian, the daughter of the family, becomes the owner of Hadassah. Soon Julia becomes quickly attracted to Hadassah’s Bible stories and soothing voice. I really liked Hadassah, she was such a sweet woman. She obeyed every command by her owners without complaint. She was devoted to that family and they soon became grateful for it. Her singing and harp playing soothed everyone - especially Decimus (Father and head of household).

Then there was Julia. I kind of thought her to be like that girl in Willy Wonka that would continuously say, “I want it now!” She was very spoiled, that is for sure. In the beginning she is betrothed to a older man, Celibus. She absolutely loathes him. She reluctantly agrees to marry him but their marriage is a turmoil and goes wrong quickly. She also meets and befriends a woman named, Celebah. Celebah is no good news. She plays a big part later on in the story.

Marcus, son of Decimus is a young man who is at odds with his father. I found Marcus to be lost in sin. He would indulge in bedding various women. Despite his behavior I found him to be a good man. He was just lost and didn’t know where to turn.

Atretes, another character in this story (there were a lot of characters in this book!). He was a son of a chieftain in Germania. His village was invaded by the Roman Empire and he was sold as a Gladiator.


Whew, Francine knows how to create a setting. Her character development was impeccable and the way she described Rome and the way of life was fascinating. This book must of taken a lot of research - as everything was described so well that I felt like I was there along with the characters.

We bear the consequences for what we have done to ourselves, and for the sin that rules this world. Jesus forgave the thief, but he didn’t take him down off the cross.

Final Thoughts

Woah, Woah everyone. This book is not for the lighthearted.

The entire book I was basically….

And then other times I was like….

And by the end I was like….

This book was quite intense throughout the entire book. Francine created a world that was beyond amazing. It also frightened me in a way of how she described Roman culture - and how similar it is to our own culture. Hadassah and the reader soon realize how empty the Valerian’s feel. They earn for more and more (money, luxury items, jewels, etc.) but when they achieve that high status and money, they still feel empty inside. They are still searching for something else. Something they can’t get through materialistic items. It’s so eerily familiar with today’s society.

Julia - oh Julia. Besides Hadassah I think she was the one that developed the most. I won’t give too much away but I soon despised her for the choices she made. She was most influenced by Celebah. Celebah was an independent woman who chose to live on her own terms. Julia was attracted to this because it’s something she couldn’t have. She earned for independence. I found Celebah to be kind of like Satan. Deterring Julia away from her family and pushing her to a sinful life. Let’s just say Celebah was not a good lady.

Speaking of Hadassah. I appalled her for keeping to her faith, which we find out she is Christian not a Jew. She also tried telling the Valarian family all about Christ and how he can the one to save them from their sin and despair. I felt for her when she felt like a failure when her owners didn’t want to convert.

Marcus and Hadassah. Their love was doomed from the start. Him being of high status, and her a slave. It would of never worked- for that time period. However, I loved them two together- especially their little fights. But I think through those fights is what established their relationship and feelings for one another.

Atretes though a side character, I really enjoyed reading his chapters. He soon became popular with Rome and his kills as a Gladiator. I kind of thought him as Maximus in Gladiator but with blond hair. And then he had to fall for Julia. Why Atretes, WHY??

Overall, this book was absolutely phenomenal. This book reminds us of God’s faithfulness and love. As Christians we want to spread the Good News but when others don’t want to follow we sometimes feel like a failure. However, we have to trust in God. Trust that he has plans for that individual. Having faith is everything. Though that can be hard, but through prayer God can help us be patient and kind to those yearning for more.

I also think this would make an amazing TV Series. I could definitely see this be translated onto screen.

Would I Recommend?

Oh yes. I think this is a Christian classic that everyone should read. However, if you are sensitive to violent or intense situations you might want to pass on this one. Or at least take it slow reading it.

You can purchase the book —-> HERE

Have you read this empowering series? If so share your thoughts on the first book in the comments!

the caffeinated bibliophile
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