The writing of this novel was quite an ambitious undertaking, as was the reading of it (it took me the better part of 2 days of steady reading to get through it). The author attempts to create a fictional world of characters and events around the entire gospel story. Mary Magdalene is a central character, but by no means the only or even "the" main character, but a main character among a host of others from Roman Soldiers in training to servant girls. Thus I was about to suggest an alternate title, but toward the very end, her love is shown in contrast to the other disciples, so perhaps the title is good. We are introduced to another forgiven women, the woman taken in adultery (Mary was only a prostitute) but never find out what happened to this other woman. Like any good novel the scenes go back and forth from one set of characters to another throughout. In addition to human characters (some Biblical and some made up) (and Jesus), there is also the Devil and some of his minions and either he or a head demon is referred to as "the master" which was a bit confusing at first, as I always thought of Jesus as the master. We are let into the private war which takes place within the soul of Mary as the demons try to control her before her conversion and try to win her back afterward. We also see the demonic influences within the minds and bodies of the the two Roman soldiers as they face various tests in preparation for their guard duty.
The passion scene, when you finally get to it is a bit brutal--perhaps overly so (like Gibbon's movie), but it's worth it when you get the part about what it means to Mary.
If you have the time to read or know how to skim (with understanding) or speed read, this novel is definitely worth tackling. After all it's free--it would be a bargain at any price.
Review by James M. Becher, author of Of Such Is The Kingdom, A Novel of Biblical Times.
(review of free book)