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The Bard of Bethlehem    by David James Trapp order for
Bard of Bethlehem
by David James Trapp
Order:  USA  Can
PublishAmerica, 2006 (2006)
*   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

In the turbulent time that was Jerusalem around 5 BC, author Trapp weaves a simple tale of love and music. Terentius, a talented harpist, helps the fiery-headed Bridicia to defend herself against a menacing wagon driver, and their love is immediate.

Much of the story takes place in Cilicia, where in addition to the ruling Romans, Jews, Arabs, Greeks, Egyptians and many others lived uneasily but side by side. Terentius' brother is a slave to Maximus, the ailing governor of Cilicia, and when Terentius manages to soothe him with his music, he wins a protector. At the same time he has made an enemy in Corvus, an unscrupulous fellow Celt and a Druid. Through these characters we learn about how difficult life can be for all people, whether government officials, tradesmen or workers under the despotic ruler Herod. Compounded with this is the fact of a brightly glowing star, rumors of a king being born and three Persian priests who have come to visit.

In general, the reviewer felt this book was more an outline of a potentially very interesting but lengthy novel. The story of Terentius and Bridicia calls for a shorter tale as it is fairly slight. It would have been better if the background would have been confined to those directly connected with the couple. Bringing in all the other tales with their profusion of characters makes the story feel very piecemeal because it does not hang together. Although principal characters are listed at the beginning of the book, the various subplots with their characters make it easy to get confused. Also, a map would have been useful. And this book very much needs a careful editing, as there are many annoying errors.

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