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By Grady Harp - 5,0 out of 5 Stars

A fascinating visit to enhanced history!

British author Rowena Kinread devotes her writing skills to history themes. Though her novels are fiction, they are indeed based on true characters. THE MISSIONARY is her debut publication and is one of the more engrossing works about Irish history, using the course of the life of Patricius – Saint Patrick – to sculpt a wondrous reflection on the early fourth century development of Ireland.

Able to paint vivid atmosphere creates credibility as the story opens – ‘It had been unbearably hot all day: one of those rare days when the sun had burnt relentlessly out of a cobalt blue sky. Towards evening, threatening black clouds had gathered deep in the sky, but they hadn’t broken and it had become intensely humid. It was night now, and Patricius lay uncovered on his pallet, sticky with sweat…He tossed back and forth, knowing he should try to rest…sleep didn’t come…He was much too disturbed. His heart raced; he felt it beating wildly against his chest. He couldn’t get Flavia out of his mind. He was so ashamed. What could he do to make everything right…?’ In that brief portion many traits of the novel’s primary character are defined.

Rowena has written an intricate historical novel that is so well paced that despite strange names and locales that are now known by other names, the excitement of the story magnetizes the reader. The author’s condensed plot summary supplies the scope of the tale – ‘Patricius, a young man of Britannia, is taken from his home and family when Gaelic pirates attack his village. On his arrival in Ireland, he is sold as a slave to the cruel under king of the Dalriada tribe in the north. Six years later, Patricius manages to escape. His journey takes him through France to Ravenna in Italy. His subsequent plans to return to Britannia are sidetracked when he finds himself accompanying several monks to the island monastery on Lerinus. His devotion to his faith, honed during his captivity, grows as he studies with the monks. Haunted by visions of the Gaels begging him to return to Ireland and share the word of God with them, Patricius gains support from Rome and his friends to return to the land of his captivity. His arrival is bitterly opposed by the druids, who have held power over the Irish kings for many years, and he and his companions must combat the druids to succeed in their God-given mission.’

With this debut novel, Rowena Kinread establishes herself as an author to watch. She is next visiting Scotland’s history with THE SCOTS OF DALRAIDA due out this year. Very highly recommended, especially for lovers of historical fiction.