let me begin by saying that my review of this book does not dull the brilliance of the author. She remains an outstanding author even though this second installment is just is-not-all-its-cracked-up-to-be. If anything, its grossly overrated. it is average at best and pales in comparison to the first installment in The Mark of the lion series. I read the first book and I was utterly blown away. Tears were in my eyes. I was pounding the pavement. Unfortunately, I had high expectations for the second story and I was sorely disappointed. I just was not convinced about Marcus's ardent and devoted affection to Hadassah that would drive him to go on such a journey. I see Rivers really tried to convince the reader. And then the historical and biblical inaccuracies were maddening! case in point: the baptism scene. Evidently the author failed to research how baptism was performed before it was changed to titles (recorded in catholic pedias). When I read through the scenes, I actually felt sorry for the author, that she was ignorant of something abundantly clear. And then Hadassah, the heroine, she became such a work of fiction that I could no longer relate to. Then the big fat happy ending where everyone supposedly get saved and Marcus and the heroine get married and have a bevy of kids..stale and rushed. Its like the author ran out ideas. I actually wish I skipped this book and that the series started and ended at book one.