What I'm Reading ...
So, research does involve reading (and taking notes as the well). I do enjoy this part of research, but it's also something that I passively do. In other words, I'm not writing down notes for a specific topic, but I'm adding information into my general knowledge, or I'm reviewing information that I already learned, but have forgotten.
Currently, I'm working my way through two books. NOTE: the links below are affiliate links, so they lead you to Amazon if you want to read along with me.
Book 1 - Audio
The first is The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson and narrated by Michael Page. This is an audiobook that I have been wanting to read. I also bought the Kindle form of the book so I could read it later (and the discount for audio was nice).
As the title indicates, it's a book about Ancient Egypt - a time period that I have always enjoyed. I'm currently re-working an old story into a historical fantasy and it will be set in Ancient Egypt during the early reign of Thutmose III shortly after the death of Hatshepsut. I researched this time period about five years ago when I originally wrote the book, so now I'm just reviewing everything.
My opinion so far: I rather like Page's narration style. Sometimes, I can't listen to audiobooks simply because of the narrator. Also, head's up, you will probably never see me reviewing a novel with a single narrator. I prefer radio dramas (audio dramas), but that means you will find new podcasts to hear.
I also like the information's presentation - the style of the book is informational, but not dry. It comes across as a narrative part travel, part story. It's a nice background that I can listen too, but not necessarily focus upon while I'm working on other things.
I just started this book, so it'll be a on-going story book.
Book 2 - Kindle
The second book that I'm reading is The Darkening Age: the Christian Destruction of the Classical World by Catherine Nixey.
This book is fascinating to me only because the time period that it covers is unknown. Now, understand, I am a Protestant Christian, and I come from a long line of Protestant Christians on both sides of my family. I grew up going to church every Sunday (morning and evening) and every Wednesday. I attended Christian schools from 1st grade until I ended 10th grade.
I know my church history pretty freakin' well. Not only that, but I love Ancient History, and have studied most of the Mediterranean and European cultures up through the Reformation.
And yet, I don't know much about this time period.
And it frustrates me.
So, to end the frustration, I have been working through a couple books (non-Christian publishers) about the Early Church. I specifically chose non-Christian publishers because of perceived bias. Truth is, I don't trust the historicity of most Christian authors writing for a Christian audience and published by Christian publishers. It hasn't always been forthcoming, shall we say, and sometimes, what I was taught was downright skewed.
When I found this book, I decided to give it a try, and have been thoroughly impressed. The book isn't an easy read, it takes time. I started reading it in March, and I'm just about finished. It'll be a book that I return to when I start my next historical fantasy series*.
The book covers the time period after the Apostolic Age (around 100 CE/AD) until the end of the Classical Age (around 400 CE/AD). It focuses on the eastern end of the Mediterranean, but does visit a few parts on the western end of the Mediterranean. It discusses how Christianity went from Jewish outcasts to World superpower (as they controlled much of the Roman Empire after Constantine).
Nixey treats the subject with respect, but also shows the cruelty of the Christians. One could argue that she idolizes the non-Christians, but we already know that ancient cultures could be cruel. What is shown is the way that Christians use their religious texts to bully and intimidate various cultures around the Mediterranean at the time period.
Unfortunately, it has changed little some 2000 years later, but that is for another post.
To me, I see many connections between this time period and our own time period. It is not lost on me that the Christians of the past attacked sacred spaces of other religions in the name of their god. Nor is it lost on me, the fact that Christians of that time period used the government to manage those who were not Christians or not like them.
I wish I could say we are bigger than that, but alas, it isn't possible.
The Darkening Age is a book that I feel all Christians should read - if only to learn of their own history. It is also book that illuminates a little known time period. If you are interested in Christian history or Late Roman time periods, this book should be on your list.
*FYI - if you love the Forty Isles series, I am taking a break from the series as I work on their world a bit more. I'll continue to write the series, but won't be publishing portions on the blog. I'm writing a new group of historical fantasies, and I'm hoping to publish them later this year.