Hope of Ages Past by Bruce Gardner presents a vibrant and timeless literary masterpiece set amidst one of the most brutal conflicts in world history: the European Thirty Years War.
This fight for religious freedom, stemming from post-Reformation Protestant resistance to Catholicism, included a series of battles that spanned three decades (AD 1618-1648) and ultimately resulted in more than 8 million deaths from violence, famine, and plague.
Blending historical and fictional elements of war, major battles, and famous personages, the author produces an inspiring tale of resolute faith and spirited romance—both fighting desperately against the raging quest for worldly gain, political power and agendas, and religious zealotry.
In the riveting, engaging and intriguing novel prologue, the author first gives an overview of the central European nations still in turmoil as a result of Martin Luther’s famous “Ninety-Five Theses” and doctrine of “Sola Scriptura” (The Bible Alone) promulgated a hundred years earlier. Faced with these Protestant “heresies,” the Catholic-led Holy Roman Empire wants to retain absolute power, while Protestants strive to retain their freedom to worship despite attempts at suppression by various Catholic factions and governors. The war ignites in AD 1618 with armed rebellion by Protestant agitators in Prague, and central Europe is soon turned into a raging war zone.
A decade later, the historical and religious conflict ushers in lives that are changed, namely the main character Peter Erhart, who is now a Lutheran pastor in Magdeburg, Germany, and Hans Mannheim, a Catholic man whom Peter had tried to help in the 1618 Prague rebellion. Peter joins together with a third notable character—Anna Ritter, a young and very beautiful peasant girl who has secretly admired Peter for many years—initiating the romance element of the novel.
Many other characters (mostly fictional, some based on real historical characters) add shape to the novel as the author provides a thrilling and suspenseful look into the lives, culture and temperaments of individuals and families caught in the crossfire of the horrific war that by now has engulfed all of Germany.
Wonderfully descriptive and concisely written with well-developed characters, this novel draws readers in and keeps them there, intertwined with the epic saga, making them feel they are right there in the book with the characters. Gardner has paid close attention to details and events that line-up with historical accuracy to create and lay a firm foundation for the story.
As tensions mount, battles rage, and personal trials ensue, the author further reflects on the themes of God’s goodness, forgiveness, love, hope and restoration that bring resounding applause for this book as a tribute to the idea that “hope is worth fighting for” despite the harsh strife, struggles, devastation and personal loss that so insidiously characterized the era. Again, HOPE is worth holding on to, for God will never let you down!
Inspirational and thought-provoking, one will not be disappointed with this work of historical fiction.
Hope of Ages Past
A CBM Christian Book Review
10.0 out of 10.0 stars