The Catholic Book Club discussion

Sword and Serpent
This topic is about Sword and Serpent
25 views
Sword and Serpent > 3. Characters

Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by John (new)

John Seymour | 1968 comments Mod
3. Are the main characters dynamic—changing or maturing by the end of the book? Do they learn about themselves, how the world works and their role in it? What other thoughts do you have on the main characters?


Manuel Alfonseca | 1635 comments Mod
Some of the more important characters in the novel are saints, either legendary or real: Saint George; Saint Christopher (or Saint Menas); Saint Blaise; Saint Nicholas of Myra (or of Bari). Three of them died (or are supposed to have died) as martyrs. Two of them (the last two) were bishops.

The recorded life of the first two is a mixture of history and legend, which leaves ample space for the imagination of the novelist. I think Marshall has made a good work in the description and historization of these four saints, although the sources of information used by Saint Nicholas are a little point-stretching :-)


Fonch | 1446 comments Undoubtly my favorrite characters are Nikolaos, and Sabra remind to a the carácter was created by a person, whom i loved a lot. I saw in Sabra a lot of things of the characters created by my friend.


message 4: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 719 comments Unlike others who have commented, I liked Sabra more than Jurian for most of the book. She realistically struggled with her role and the glimpses she got of faith in Something more admirable than Moloch. By contrast, I wondered how Jurian could be raised by Christian parents and have such shallow comprehension of the faith, be so cowardly about admitting it, and so obsessed with military exploits and solving things violently. However, he does experience genuine contrition, and by the end he comes to understand "It's not by might nor by power but by my Spirit." But I don't want him to join the Legion!


I know nothing of the Christopher legend other than carrying Christ across the river. Was he reputedly a giant? Earlier a servant of Satan? A soldier?


I thought having Nicholas show up (bilocation?) in remote cities was gratuitous, unnecessary to the development of the plot. His ability to foretell the future (words of knowledge) was plausible, his popping up across the sea wasn't.

I also wondered why the priests in the story never seem to be celebrating Mass (even on Christmas!), though there's a veiled reference to it with Dionysius. It seems curious to me that Nicholas says there aren't many priests--by 299?


message 5: by John (last edited Jun 13, 2018 03:48AM) (new)

John Seymour | 1968 comments Mod
Jill wrote: "Unlike others who have commented, I liked Sabra more than Jurian for most of the book. She realistically struggled with her role and the glimpses she got of faith in Something more admirable than M..."

I liked Sabra, Jill. And I would agree her response to Christianity is much more laudable, and believable, than Jurian's. I also agree that Jurian's nearly complete ignorance of Christian faith was stretching a point. Our children may appear to ignore us, but they do absorb more than Jurian appeared to if we are faithful. Jurian's devotion to his mother seemed inconsistent with completely ignoring her lessons on the faith.

But when I am mentally too tired to read anything difficult, I will pick up a thriller of some sort. Jurian's story arc fit that need perfectly. The kind of interior struggle Sabra underwent, however laudable, is less interesting to me.


Fonch | 1446 comments John wrote: "Jill wrote: "Unlike others who have commented, I liked Sabra more than Jurian for most of the book. She realistically struggled with her role and the glimpses she got of faith in Something more adm..."

About Jurian it is posible that it was an strategy of the autor to explain the readers of this age the basic dogma of the christianity. It is true that it is not good that Jurian ignores all of his faith, but he lost his father, and he only was worried with entering in the legion, and restoring his honor. I want to remind at least in Europe one of the problems nowadays is the ignorance of the believers especially the youngest members in catholic questions. Much people did not know the cathecism. In my opinión Jurian is a resource, and he showed his ignorance to explain the readers the essential of the catholic faith, perhaps Taylor R. Marshall was wrong, but it is his strategy.


message 7: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 719 comments I didn't see a very clear or strong explanation of the Catholic faith, other than maybe the crucifixion and eternal life. It's presented more by the example of strong believers. I don't remember anything being said about the resurrection or a personal prayer life.


Fonch | 1446 comments Jill wrote: "I didn't see a very clear or strong explanation of the Catholic faith, other than maybe the crucifixion and eternal life. It's presented more by the example of strong believers. I don't remember an..."

I think Jill that the autor is telling a history, and he did not want to deviate speaking about theological issues, that the characters did not speak abou the resurrection of Christ. It does not mean deny the redemption of his action. It is posible that the autor speaks of this topic in the second, and in the third book, when the christians start to be pursued by the romans. I clarify one thing the topic of devils provoking the persecution appear in the earlier Christian Triumphing novel. I think in "Martyrs" by Chateaubriand, and "Fabiola" by cardinal Wiseman (but in this case did not appear devils, appear angels in one scene).


Madeleine Myers | 268 comments One of my favorite characters was Aikaterina, or Catherine of Alexandria. I did not know much about her, and in much of our hagiography, she is overshadowed by St. Catherine the mystic. Not a lot is written about her, although there was a film about her that apparently got little attention and poor reviews, despite having some well-known actors in the cast. Looking to find out more about her life and times and those of other characters in the trilogy. I loved her courage and her intellectual brilliance.


message 10: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 719 comments Was she in Word and Serpent? I missed her completely.


message 11: by Jill (new)

Jill A. | 719 comments Can you give me a chapter? There's no scene in the first volume set in Alexandria. Did they encounter her in Rome?


Madeleine Myers | 268 comments Oops. I accidentally deleted my reply--Catherine, or Aikaterina, was an important character in all three books. She was princess of Alexandria, which was known for its library, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. She first appears in her library, giving grief to her tutor and servants with her intellectual curiosity, and I don't know how you missed her antics with the cat she was experimenting on. She argued philosophy with Diocletian and his scholars, successfully, and was courted by Maximinus, and her refusal led to her martyrdom.


Manuel Alfonseca | 1635 comments Mod
Madeleine wrote: "Catherine, or Aikaterina, was an important character in all three books. She was princess of Alexandria, which was known for its library, one of the seven won..."

I think you must refer to books two and three in the trilogy. No character is called Aikaterina or Catherine in Sword & Serpent.


Fonch | 1446 comments Manuel wrote: "Madeleine wrote: "Catherine, or Aikaterina, was an important character in all three books. She was princess of Alexandria, which was known for its library, one of the seven won..."

I think you mus..."


Madeleine wrote: "Oops. I accidentally deleted my reply--Catherine, or Aikaterina, was an important character in all three books. She was princess of Alexandria, which was known for its library, one of the seven won..."

I totally agree with my friend Alfonseca. I have read in the sumary of the second book this character must appear in the second book, while Jurian went to rescue his friend Menas.
I have heard something about Saint Catherine, i have heard that she was the christian Hypatia, as Madeleine said she was a philosopher and her death was a tragedy, but as she was christian nobody complained when she was died in the Christian persecution. I have read in an article of Alfa y Omega a religious spanish weekly.


Madeleine Myers | 268 comments OK, I may be wrong. I read the first two rather quickly, but for me she was one character that stood out.


Fonch | 1446 comments Madeleine wrote: "OK, I may be wrong. I read the first two rather quickly, but for me she was one character that stood out."

Do not worry Madeleine the thing that you say it is really interesting. We will have to read the sequel. The problem is that perhaps i could not read it. Because my English is dreadful and i read it all books in Spanish. If the novel is not translated to spanish i do not think that i could not read it :-(.


message 17: by Bice (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bice (bicebeechay) | 111 comments I frankly was a bit exasperated with Jurian at times. In fact at the beginning I did not even know if he was a Christian or not. Liked Sabra the best. At one point Jurian says to her “Somehow-impossibility- you served the darkness without losing yourself in it, And that is strength that I don’t think I’ll ever know.” Wish also that Mari had been developed more.


Fonch | 1446 comments Bice wrote: "I frankly was a bit exasperated with Jurian at times. In fact at the beginning I did not even know if he was a Christian or not. Liked Sabra the best. At one point Jurian says to her “Somehow-impos..."

I continue saying although i agree with you Bice that Jurian was created with the intention to have relationship with the 21th reader. The doubts and the ignorance of Jurian in religious issues are the the doubts of ignorance of the people nowadays. It was a good measure for Taylor R. Marshall to explain the most important matters to the readers. I absolutely agree about Sabra.


message 19: by Bice (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bice (bicebeechay) | 111 comments Excellent points Fonch! I do see the modern connections now.


message 20: by Fonch (last edited Jun 21, 2018 01:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Fonch | 1446 comments Bice wrote: "Excellent points Fonch! I do see the modern connections now."

Thanks Bice :-).


Taylor Marshall | 5 comments Fonch has this correct: "I continue saying although i agree with you Bice that Jurian was created with the intention to have relationship with the 21th reader."

Jurian/George is not a walking catechism (yawn). He is a the typical un-catechized Christian - like 80% of our Catholic youth today.


Fonch | 1446 comments Taylor wrote: "Fonch has this correct: "I continue saying although i agree with you Bice that Jurian was created with the intention to have relationship with the 21th reader."

Jurian/George is not a walking cate..."


I have the feeling when you write this part that the pressumed ignorance of Jurian in catholic faith is that we sffer the catholic nowadays. I have forever said that in the peplum is as in Europe called the Sword and sandal novel serve to analyze the events of our aga as the event as the event happened. Because there are not hardly differences between the people of the 3th or the 4th century and the people of the 21th century. Indeed there are theories, which say that now the western society is living a crisis similar to the romand in the 3th and 4th century.


back to top