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Reviewed by Lois Henderson for Readers' Favorite
Immersed in the world of ancient Rome, Michael Kleinfall’s epic, The Peregrine’s Odyssey, tells the story of the deep fraternal bond that develops between Gaius Segusiavus, “the Peregrine,” and Ignatius the Younger, both from wealthy merchant families, which outlasts even death. This work of historical fiction relates as a central thread how Ignatius converts from Judaism to a profound faith in the Christian religion, while the Romano-Gallic Gaius, his comrade-in-arms, draws ever closer to him, despite their religious differences. The sociocultural depth of the world that Kleinfall describes in astounding detail, embracing the entire ambit of the world surrounding the Mare Nostrum (the Mediterranean Sea), is thrilling in the emotional charge and complexity that the author imparts to his vast panoply of characters, stretching across the generations.
Intended for an extremely broad audience, Kleinfall’s The Peregrine’s Odyssey should have a special interest for young adults. Read as a gripping adventure story, with its overwhelming momentum and drive towards the unexpected, the hoped-for and the feared, the novel should prove pleasing to those in search of an entertaining and engrossing read. That it has an inescapable deeper meaning for those who wish to look more deeply is unavoidable, though, whether you choose to revel in the historical accuracy of the text (supplemented by the Segusiavus family tree, numerous maps and black-and-white shaded drawings of the cities in which the action takes place, an extensive afterword, providing background information as to various key aspects of Roman and Early Christian life, detailed lists of the principal and other notable characters, and a multi-paged glossary), or to probe its deeper spiritual significance. I especially love the fact that The Peregrine’s Odyssey is only the first of an entire series of works, Burnt Offerings, that is destined for publication, all in due course.