by Richard L. Black


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General Maximus is commander of Rome's finest legions. He has known violence his entire life. When he and his best friend, Androcles, return from a long, bloody campaign, Maximus finds himself questioning his life. Word has reached Rome of a man named Jesus who is causing a stir in faraway Judea. Maximus and Androcles are sent to ascertain the truth of the situation. Disguised as a Jew, Maximus slowly begins to understand the true teachings of Jesus in this epic story of one man's faith-building journey to find the purpose of life. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781609079857
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing
Publication date: 03/03/2015
Pages: 464
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.60(d)
Age Range: 15 Years

About the Author

Richard L. Black is a writer with a background in the software industry who has worked closely with Department of Defense and intelligence community, an experience which informs his writing style which shows a flair for undercover mystery and intrigue. A native of San Diego, he now lives with his family in the Southwest and is an avid car enthusiast and guitar player. This is his debut novel.

Quote from Ricard L. Black:
"I am always impressed with people that come from a different background that discover Christ and choose to follow him. I think it almost requires a higher degree of faith and self-reliance as opposed to leaning on the belief of others. Maximus came from a decidedly different background. His experiences had to be a compelling one and his faith had to be great to fully accept the change and challenge in his life that becoming a disciple would bring. Maximus was looking for change in his life and when he encountered Jesus he knew: His ears heard and his eyes saw. His conversion in the book is very powerful and swift because he was receptive to the message, willing to make the change and, because of his life experience in war and conflict, was deeply in need of Jesus’s message." 

Read an Excerpt

"General Maximus rode an impressive dappled-gray steed as it plodded the last few miles of the long trek back to Rome. He preferred walking with his men but the walls of the great city were within sight and he would be expected to display his leadership and rank; returning as the great conqueror. Word of the Legion's arrival had preceded them, and he could make out frantic movement in the distance. They would soon be marching on the Via Sacra which led to the Forum where thousands would be waiting to shower them with praise, flowers, and palms.

The Legion had put a thousand miles behind them since pulling up stakes in northeastern Gaul and the weary General had a thousand doubts about the continuing imperialism of the Roman Empire. Almost two years fighting fierce Germanic tribes had decimated his Legion by a third. . . .

Many conflicts during his lifetime were seared into his memory forever. More troubling to the honorable General than the loss of a finger on the battlefield in Gaul was his loss of faith in the philosophies of the Empire. He was indignant with the continuing subjugation of people. How many cultures did they need to crush and police? Greeks, Turks, Gauls, Jews--it never ended--treasures of gold stolen, treasures of culture destroyed. The campaigns no longer made sense to the logical General, but he kept those thoughts to himself; voicing them would be heresy and considered treason to the throne. His wounds hurt, but his heart hurt more." 

Table of Contents

Book One: Rome
Book Two: Sea Voyage
Book Three: Judaea
Book Four: Jerusalem
Book Five: Passover Week

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Maximus 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have mixed feelings about this story. While the religious aspects of the novel were good and the basic story makes for a really interesting read....I  ultimately had a hard time reading this because some of the characters were just plain painful to read. The women are built up to be intelligent or independent and headstrong, but mostly they just get weak in the knees or have to resist a guy's smile, or faint at the sight of blood. Left and right, the men folk are the ones voicing their opinions, solving all the conflict,  and stepping up to clean up the wounded guy because the women are all too distraught. I know gender roles were extreme in the time and culture these characters exist in, but I'm pretty sure that even back then there were women who would've known what to do at the sight of blood and set to work instead of gasping in horror and fainting. The character I really liked was Maximus since he was really the only interesting one to read about, although I honestly felt like he'd basically been converted before he'd even begun following the Savior. The story is good, especially if you're looking for an Easter read, but it's light on character development and most of the conflict was solved by the power of prayer within only a few chapters. If you can get through the parts where the women show up basically nothing but cry, fall in love and be weak in the knees.....without groaning (I seriously couldn't), it's a good, light read.
lovingthebooks More than 1 year ago
A FASCINATING look into the life and times of Jesus~ Two high ranking Roman soldiers impersonate common Jewish men... In order to follow Jesus to see who he is, what he does, and to see if he is a threat to the Roman empire. They are to report directly to Pontius Pilate under order of emperor Tiberius. These two men, Maximus and Androcles, who have fought long, hard battles... Now find themselves fully immersed in Jewish traditions and living with a family in the fishing village of Capernaum. They not only watch Jesus teach and follow his movements, but they also question those who have been taught and changed by Him. Follow Maximus and Androcles as they shed their Roman warrior attire and become Jacob and Levi... Two humble and nonconfrontational Jewish men questioning- who is this Jesus? A GREAT READ! One you will not be able to put down!
Mountain_Muse More than 1 year ago
A riveting story for the Easter season REVIEW When I read the synopsis for Maximus, my first thoughts were of the classic novel that I have read and has been memorialized in celluloid, The Robe by Lloyd C. Douglas.  I remember this story of the roman soldier and his discovery of “the Christ”.  Maximus, is of much the same premise, but instead of a tribune, this time the Roman soldier is none other than a decorated General, who has come to investigate the rumors and stories of this Jesus of Galilee who some claim to be the Messiah, and a pretender to the throne of Judea. The great general of the Roman army, who has led a legion of war hardened men, has three short weeks to transform himself and his commander (and best friend) into passable Jewish merchants, so that they can go into the back country of Judea and mingle with the crowds without raising eyebrows and learn more about this “upstart”.   Through the cover of bringing the two “converts” up to speed, Ezra (the Jewish merchant and Rabbi) provides them with a brief history of the Jewish people, from creation to the claims of Jesus of Nazareth being of the linage of the House of David.    I enjoyed how Mr. Black worked the two “Roman Jews” into the very fabric of the last few weeks of Jesus’ ministry.  Because of Maximus’ position of reporting to Pilate on Jesus, he found himself in Pilate’s presence at critical times when the Sanhedrin leadership was pushing for Jesus’ arrest and death.  Watching both men struggle with their inner demons and at the same time, the discovery and wonderment of the Jewish Jehovah was interesting.  These sections were thoughtful and well written, especially the scene where Maximus comes to grip with his own acceptance of God. The theological message was well presented between the folds of action, as the two men sought answers to who Jesus was, for both the Roman Empire, and finally for themselves.  My only drawback and the only issue I have with this book is that I feel that in the zeal to present his theological message, though a very good and sound one, Mr. Black dropped the ball in other areas of import.  The storyline is an excellent one.  The love story, within the story is delightful.  But, I felt there were shortcuts taken on researching the historical aspects of the novel.  I feel that with a little more work, this good novel could become a great novel.  All the parts are here.  There are just some areas that need to be corrected, filled out, and finished. Because of this, it has been difficult to rate this novel.   If I were to rate it on the story and what Mr. Black did with it, I would give it a good 4.5 stars for the story.  But in the area of application of research and demonstration of knowledge historical and cultural  subject matter, I would rate the novel with 3 stars for technical issues.   INTERVIEW Hello Richard, thank you for coming by Shade Tree Book Reviews.  It was interesting that you worked the story of the final days of Christ from both a Jewish sideliner’s point of view and from a Roman’s point of view.    How were you able to resolve the issue of such divergent thought and philosophy of these two cultures to come to such a cohesive work? First of all let me explain that I wanted to make sure that the story portrayed within the pages of Maximus was true to events within the KJV New Testament. I have read the New Testament many times and am familiar with the stories and the attitudes of the various peoples represented within its pages. The Jewish perspective was easy. We have many examples in the NT of disciples and non-disciples perspective. Not all non-disciples were “anti” Jesus of Nazareth; they simply didn’t “hear the voice” or comprehend the message or the messenger. The detractors were also portrayed many times in the New Testament. They were described as vehement in their persecution and zeal to find a crack in the armor of Jesus. Their poisonous attitude was spawned from jealously, guilt, ignorance and fear. There were even those that believed His message but were unwilling to make the sacrifice necessary to commit to discipleship - e.g. Nicodemus, and the wealthy young lawyer.  The question of gentiles (non-Jews) is less defined. I did what I suppose most authors do, I closed my eyes and asked the question – If I were there and knew nothing of this Nazarene, or of God for that matter, simply stumbled across Jesus of Nazareth and observed his actions, what would I think? What would I do? How would I feel? Would I be sympathetic or apathetic? I had to take a step back from my own knowledge and belief and ask myself – what if this were me?  Maximus was in that place that a lot of men find themselves; dissatisfied with his life and current situation. But he was humble and receptive to new ideas and looking for change, so Jesus’ message and example hit a chord deep within him. Also, the family of Jershon and the mentorship of Ezra had an illuminating affect on him. He had no idea when he accepted the assignment from Emperor Tiberius and boarded the Egyptian ship to Judea what he would encounter, but he put himself in a position to receive inspiration. Many of us want change in our lives but are unwilling to take the risk of abandoning our preconceptions and pride and opening our hearts and minds to real lasting change and then committing to the work and sacrifice that change may demand from us. Maximus found himself in the “Bermuda Triangle” of life changing opportunity and committed to the change. How did you come up with the idea for an undercover Roman soldier investigating the supposed Christ in Judea?  The word “undercover” has a contemporary feel to it. There were certainly spies mentioned in the Bible. Moses sent “spies” into the Promised Land before sending the children of Israel to inhabit it. There were Roman and Roman conscripts throughout Judea at the time of Christ. But my thinking was that a Roman soldier would have less access and not be able to get as close to the center of the storm as a simple Jew would. Maximus and Androcles by virtue of their disguise were able to have unprecedented and equal access to these events without raising suspicion – it seemed logical to have them pose as common Jews and add a deeper dimension of discovery to their mission.   Do you plan on a sequel to this story?  A continuing story of the early church? Hopefully the book, like a good rock-concert, ends with the concert-goers/readers clamoring for more – at least this is my hope. My own wife when she read the ending said, “That was abrupt.” But in my heart it was time to end the story with a “hopeful” conclusion. There are a thousand questions the reader could ask and it lends itself to a second book. I have begun to jot down thoughts, as they come to me, about that story. But it all really depends on the success of Maximus.  Tell us a little about yourself.  What are some of the things you enjoy doing for fun?    I love good books and good movies. I love seeing at the end of a movie the tagline – Based on the Novel by -----. I love to travel and I love the ocean. I grew up in San Diego. The ocean invigorates me. It inspires me. It heals me. It makes me think bigger thoughts. It makes me want to throw off my self-imposed limits of thinking and accomplishment. It makes me want to be better, grow, succeed, reach-out, expand, create. I am a creative hands-on person. I really shouldn’t be in sales; I should be a carpenter or an auto-mechanic. I love working on cars with my four sons. It is the highlight of my Saturdays during the summer – diving into some broken car. I’ve recently enjoyed building bookcases and furniture for my children and myself. Of course, who can deny the joy I receive from being with my 3 grandchildren – that truly is a glimpse of Heaven.  What types of books do you enjoy readings? Who are your favorite authors? Historical Fiction. I cut my teeth on Michener, Wouk and Clavell. I also like Michael Crichton, I wish he were still with us. I like the way he makes you think. Crichton had an incredible gift of imaginative storytelling. I like to walk away from a book having learned something. It is my hope that readers will walk away from Maximus having learned something. That would be very gratifying to have someone say that about the book.   I also read a lot of non-fiction, particularly about World War ll and Wall Street; disparate subjects for sure.   
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
MAXIMUS by Richard L. Black is a inspirational historical fiction. An interesting tale, that is familiar but told in a different perception. The re-telling of the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth. Told though the eyes of Maximus, a General who commands legions of up to men, and his second-in-command, Androcles. While, an interesting and intriguing, I had a hard time connecting with some of the characters. I felt they lacked true character. We all know the story of Jesus', his crucifixion, his death, and his resurrection, but we hardly hear stories of Maximus, who begins to follow Jesus, and tells Pilate he is not a threat to Rome and others, who was present in Jesus' life. While, this is an enjoyable and satisfying read, it was missing something. I had a hard time connecting to some of the characters, but with this said it was an enjoyable read. We find faith, healing, learning to follow your heart, and opening to the unexpected circumstances of life. This is the story of Romans, Judeans, soldiers, fishermen, Jerusalem, family, Galileans, trust, justice, injustice, a journey of life and faith. This author definitely shows his deep, and extensive research into this tragic story. I would read another story written by this author. He did a just job of this story, you can easily tell this was a labor of love. Any inspirational readers, historical fiction readers, and anyone who enjoys reading of Bible characters. In the end an enjoyable and satisfying read. *Received for an honest review from the publisher and Net Galley* Rating: 3 Heat Rating: Sweet Reviewed by: AprilR, courtesy of My Book Addiction and More