"Historical fiction at its finest." —Association for Mormon Letters
"The Book of Malchus is a masterful piece of historical fiction. Like the characters in the book, Neil K. Newell and William J. Hamblin take the readers on a fascinating voyage - one that includes adventure, danger, faith, and sacrifice." —Mormon Times
"Don't try starting this book at night if you have to get up early." — Association for Mormon Letters
A book for all who believe and especially for those who want to believe.
It is A.D. 410 and Rome, the symbol of order and civilization, has fallen — sacked by and army of barbarians. Renowned pagan philosopher Lucius Crescentius struggles to make sense of it. Why had the gods allowed it? Could it be they are merely stone after all? Has everything he has known all his life - everything he has studies, believed, and worked for — been a lie?
But as Lucius struggles to understand his world, he makes a startling discovery: a hidden and mysterious record written by a long-dead ancestor — a merchant explorer by the name of Malchus. Malchus' tale reveals a story of high adventure on the sea, of unexpected romance, and of barbarian ways in a strange, faraway land. He also tells of an even stranger story about a chance encounter with a man from Galilee that is destined to change his life forever.
In Rome, chants of death and destruction fill the streets. How can Lucius reconcile yesterday's Rome with the chaos of today? As Lucius struggles to make sense of a world turned upside down, he turns to the strange and exciting Book of Malchus, hoping that within those pages, he might discover a new path and new meaning for his life.
The faith these women exhibited as they rejoiced in blessings and dealt with struggles provides a model for us in facing our own challenges as we strive to build our own lives of faith today.
- Size: 6" x 9"
- Pages: 416
- Published: 2010
About the Authors
Neil Newell has written plays, screenplays, and novels, as well as more than one hundred articles in national publications. He has worked for many years for LDS Welfare Services and teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University.
William Hamblin is a professor of history at BYU, specializing in the ancient and medieval Near East. He is the author of dozens of articles and several books, most recently Solomon’s Temple: Myth and History (with David Seely). Hamblin is currently in Jerusalem doing teaching and research.
The Book of Malchus, son of Mago, of the house of Hanno I cannot write the hundredth part of what happened that night. In truth, even now I cannot think of it without terror clutching at my heart. To this day, it haunts my sleep and burrows into my soul, leaving wounds that refuse to mend or fade.
But, in order for my story to be understood, I am compelled to write a few words.
I have spent my life on the sea, and I have survived winds and waves that have taken the lives of others less skilled or less fortunate.
But the storm of that night was a cataclysm beyond imagination and beyond my poor ability to describe. From the depths of watery canyons, massive waves towered above my ship. I can yet feel the sickening motion of being thrust up toward the stars, high into the sky, with death roiling below. From terrible heights we tottered upon the crests of mountainous waves, only to plunge terrible depths down and down into black, roiling valleys. Water crashed against us and engulfed us, tossing us about with the violence of a wolf shaking a rodent in its teeth.
It seemed as though Aeolus had unleashed the might of every wind against us. Rank after rank of wave assaulted us and would have crushed my ship to splinters had I not struck sails and steered with all my might into the waves. In truth, there was nothing else I could have done to resist the merciless forces that hurled us ever forward.
I still feel it.
Even now I feel the despair and the horror of that night.
Culleo and Crassus were picked up by a wind that, with the ease of a child tossing a rag doll, threw them over the side.
Massive waves slapped at my ship, carrying away Lurco and Varrus.
I shouted for everyone to lash themselves to the deck but, for poor Tullus, that was an act that cost him his life. Tullus bound himself to the forward mast which broke into splinters, one of which pierced him through the heart. He was dead before the water swept him away.
Bassus, despite anchoring himself to the side of the ship, was washed overboard; we dragged his lifeless body behind us for more than an hour before anyone realized he was missing.
When morning arrived, the wind still howled fiercely, pushing us ever westward, farther away from safety and away from home. The waves of the following days, although still sometimes as high as the sides of my ship, were miniature in comparison to those from the night of the storm.
For the moment, we would survive.
Of the seventeen men who sailed with me during that terrible storm, only ten remained the following day.
Of those, only four were healthy enough to lash a sail or hold the rudder.
To my relief, little Mus had survived. Slow of wit, clumsy, and awkward of speech, Mus was as dear to me as though he were my brother.
His father, a fishmonger of Carthage, had begged that I take him. I protested, of course. I explained the dangers of the sea and of my profession. But his father persisted in his pleadings to the point that I, eventually, relented. But from the moment I hired the boy, my fortunes picked up to the point where I began considering him more than a faithful and loyal friend. He was my good luck charm.
Mus never questioned an order; when I told him to wash the deck, he flew instantly to the task and worked at it until it was complete. When I told him to unload cargo, he put his back into it.
During the night of the storm when all seemed lost, Mus refused to leave my side but lashed himself to the ship and threw his muscle into helping me and Glaucus hold the rudder. Without his strength, we may not have had the strength to keep the ship turned into the waves.
I repeatedly ordered him to go below deck, but he would not abandon me.
It was the first time he had ever disobeyed me.
When others cowered, he remained courageous.
Every order I shouted, he echoed in a voice twice as loud as mine. He was a hero that night. He, as much as any other man, was responsible for our survival.
No, I cannot speak of that terrible night without thinking of my brave and valiant Mus.
The day following the storm, we took inventory of our casualties. Not a man remained unchanged. The nightmare of the storm had transformed us all.
All except for little Mus, who moved from man to man, patting heads, praising each for surviving the night, reassuring them.
“You did a good job,” he told them. “Time to go home. Going home now.”
But in spite of Mus’s reassurances, we all knew the reality of our situation.
In the eyes of my tattered crew was a look that asked the same question: “Will we ever find our way home?”
What could I answer? What possible hope could I give?
Nor did our luck change for the better. The wind blew relentlessly to the west. It was a sailors’ dream, that wind-strong, steady, and irresistible-but it drove us farther from home with each passing minute.
If only it had blown in the opposite direction we could have made it back. Within a week we would have been safe in our beds, free of fear, free of drowning despair.
But the wind did not change, nor did it lessen. If anything, it raged all the harder. I knew that I had to keep my wits about me. I had to do something. I had to come up with a plan. Invent a reason for hope. My men needed that. I needed that.
by Vickie - reviewed on March 22, 2011
This was excellent reading and I loved the ending. I hope we get more like this.
What a Great Book
by Dalma - reviewed on November 02, 2012
I couldn't put it down. What an interesting story line. Very informative about early Christianity, the customs of the people at the time, footnotes full of references and explanations of events and words used in the story. I especially love the way events from the Book of Mormon were incorporated in this fascenating story and how two stories were combined into one.
Makes you think
by Leslie - reviewed on July 16, 2011
This is not a fast read, which is good!! It makes you slow down and think about all the history- as well as all the ways we treat people. The servant's constant reminder to his master that "all Christians are not the same" holds true for us today. I didn't know what to expect from this book, but I'm glad I chose it! If you want a deep and thoughtful book, this is it!
A Great Read, Very Enjoyable
by GOULD - reviewed on July 30, 2011
What a delightful read; I enjoyed this book immensely! Towards the end, I wept with joy that there once was a man named Malchus (at least in the book) who lived his dream; he journeyed to the Promised Land and was embraced by the Risen Son of God, Jesus Christ. I was reminded of King Arthur, one of my all-time favorite stories, and the joy of knowing there once was a place called Camelot. No, The Book of Malchus does not talk of King Arthur or Camelot. But it does remind me of that joy of discovery, of knowing. God lives, the Son of God rose from the tomb, and we can all bask in the light of His love.
Couldn't put it down!
by Sonia - reviewed on September 30, 2010
I took it home one evening and couldn't put it down. I stayed up reading until four in the morning and finished it. It's a wonderful story, beautifully laid out, that reached down to touch my soul. I let my parents read it, and they ate it up as well.
A great read!
by Mark - reviewed on September 23, 2010
I thoroughly enjoyed the book! Well written from start to finish and I found the historical notes at the end of each chapter a nice addition. Will be recommending this to friends and family.
by Effie - reviewed on September 24, 2010
My husband and I started reading this book at the same time which was a mistake because we kept trying to steal it from each other. In hind sight, we probably should’ve just bought two copies. I loved this book. It is well written and full of humor, adventure, mystery, tragedy, love, and hope. What more could you want from a book?! I also found the historical insights at the end of each chapter very interesting. They helped make the story more real as I was able to understand the background more fully. I hope that there will be more books coming from this author as I am left wanting more!
Take it slow!
by Melinda - reviewed on October 21, 2011
I truly enjoyed this book. It started slow, but was very interesting. I loved the 2 story lines, that come to the same conclusion. Great history! This is to learn from.
by Jacob - reviewed on January 09, 2011
This book was so cool I loved it. It had the right amount of everything History,Fiction,Action and everything else a good book needs.
by Greg - reviewed on August 29, 2011
The book spiked my interest very quickly. The characters were developed very well. While reading I could not wait to see what was going to happen next. Really makes me think.
Definitely a memorable book
by Hannah - reviewed on August 04, 2013
As stated previously, it is a slow at first, but after a few chapters I couldn't read it fast enough to keep up with my curiosity. The story kept me guessing how Malchus would get out of certain situations, how Lucius would react, and how the both of their lives would ultimately make a connection. The footnotes at the end of each chapter really helped me to understand the facts and backgrounds of people, events, practices, etc. The history combined with the story helped to bring historical figures I've had in my mind really come to life. It can actually be quite relatable at times for a historical fiction novel. From losing loved ones, to facing the unknown, to those who have found it difficult to make a transition from the religion they grew up with to the religion they now believe to be true.