James Byron Huggins
Reviewed by: Len Chanoux
Rora: One Man, One Faith, One Stand against Impossible Odds, by James Byron Huggins. Published by Lion's Head Publishing, 2001. Hardcover, 469 pages, list price $23.99. Reviewed by OP teacher Len Chanoux.
This is a gripping historical novel set in the mid 1600s, when the Vaudois (Waldensians) fought off an attempt by the Roman Catholic Church to exterminate them. The origin of the Valdese or Vaudois people is uncertain, but they were persecuted and hounded down through the centuries. My first information about these people came from my great-grandmother, who descended from them.
Rora is the highest valley of the Vaudois. The main character in the story is a real person, as are the local ruler and his army commander.
The story is well researched and well written. It tells how Joshua Gianavel gathered a small band of farmers to fight for their faith. Through his courage, inspiration, and training, a small band of farmers was able to defeat a large Italian army. The army, through treachery, slaughtered thousands of non-Roman Catholic Christians in the lower valley, horribly mutilating men, women, and children. Then they attempted to conquer the upper valley, where Gianavel lived.
The story of the defense of the valley is tense and gripping in places. There are battles against unbelievable odds. This is a story of the persecution of the church of Jesus Christ. It is a tale of a loving and devoted father, who was torn between his great and tender love for his family and his devotion to God's calling. The novel portrays a man who was troubled in his conscience and emotions because of what he saw as his responsibility before God. The book relates the involvement of other historical figures, such as Lord Byron, Oliver Cromwell, and Cardinal Mazarin.
The author does a good job of presenting the Christian perspective of the embattled people in the valley and the hostile or indifferent attitudes of the persecutors. He demonstrates the power of sincere faith and obedience to God's Word. To relate the story would be to take away your thrill in reading it.
I wish there were an introduction giving the historical setting. My knowledge of the background made it more interesting for me. The book is well written and will certainly hold the interest of the reader. Here is the story of a valiant group of Christians in an interesting portion of church history.
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