Caesar’s Lord

Reviewed by:

Connor Salter, Professional Writing alumnus from Taylor University, Upland, IN.


Caesar’s Lord (Constantine’s Empire #3)


Bryan Litfin



Publication Date:

November 1, 2022




496 pages


Rex and Flavia think they have reached a tranquil time. They have been married for seven years, and Rex is no longer a soldier. Studying to become a pastor, in a church that now has Emperor Constantine’s blessing, their future seems safe. However, Constantine is preparing for war with his brother-in-law Licinius, a war which will decide whether Christians remain protected or undergo new persecution. Meanwhile, teachers like Arius and Mani generate controversies in the church, spreading doubt about who Jesus was. One way or another, turmoil is coming.

In a review of the first Constantine’s Empire book (partially quoted in this book’s endorsements), this reviewer observed that Litfin balances history and action very well. That continues to be true here. His insights into ancient Roman culture, the early church’s conflicts with heretical groups, and the fights between Constantine and Licinius, are a terrific backdrop for an adventure story.

However, Litfin continues to struggle with execution. His characters sometimes speak solemnly, but usually in contemporary language (“Good idea” and “That’s right!”). Historical fiction can use characters who speak in contemporary terms, but the purpose must be clear—is this sly humor or an attempt to make the characters relatable? TV show The Chosen accomplishes both, with some characters sounding more modern than others. Bill Meyers features a young Jesus speaking contemporary language in Rendezvous with God, making it clear he’s using this technique to make Jesus easy for his time-traveling hero to connect with. Litfin never shows he’s got a technique guiding the way he uses dialogue. The contemporary tone feels jarring rather than intentional.

A similar problem holds true for the characterization. Character descriptions are filled with adverbs (the villains always “grinning wickedly” and “waving their palms dismissively”), and seem overdone rather than dramatic. With some sly humor, this characterization could become camp—deliberate excess to generate humor. There’s a history of campy humor in stories about Biblical characters or early Christians. Think of Esther and the King, where Haman flogs a servant for messing up an evil plot, and calls him a “monster of civility!” The insult sounds silly, but that’s the point. Litfin never signals a joke that he’s letting the audience in on. Again, the elements feel unintentionally funny or heavy-handed rather than planned.

The plot continues to be exciting, filled with action for adventure fans and scholarly goodies for early Christian history buffs. Still, it’s hard to escape the sense that with a few revisions and a clearer vision, the book could have been twice as good.


Rating (1 to 5 stars):

3 stars

Suggested Audience:

Historical fiction fans who enjoy stories about the early church.

Christian Impact:

Litfin takes readers into the early church’s great controversies, showing the debates that forged the language we still use to talk about Christianity. He also uses his characters (some Christian converts from paganism, some lifelong followers of Jesus) to discuss the conflict between Christianity and paganism that permeated this period.


NOTE: ECLA readers may want to read the previous books in the series first:

Caesar's Lord (Constantine's Empire, #3)


  1. | A Week in the Life of a SlaveEvangelical Church Library Association - September 16, 2023

    […] the silliness. Minus those traits, camp is just shrill silliness (for example, see Bryn Litfin’s Constantine’s Empire trilogy, also written by a […]

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