Maximus: Soldier at the Cross

by Richard L. Black


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Hardcover SKU 5128402

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Maximus has never known peace. In command of one of Rome's finest legions, he and his closest friend, Androcles, have fought side by side to uphold the glory of the empire.

But at the end of a long and bloody campaign, Maximus begins to question his purpose, his past, and the gods he has been taught to believe in.

When word reaches Rome of a man named Jesus who is causing a stir in faraway Judaea, Maximus and Androcles are sent, disguised as Jews, to ascertain the truth of the situation: Is this Jesus merely a radical preacher, or is he instigating a revolution against Rome?

As Maximus immerses himself in Jewish culture, he must confront questions that could change his life: Is it possible this carpenter from Nazareth is the Son of God? Is it possible for a man of war to live a life of peace?


This sweeping epic, part mystery, part detective story and filled with intrigue, gives fascinating insight to modern readers about the world of Jesus’ time. In our modern culture we know so much about Jesus from the very beginning of our life experience.

Imagine a time, as depicted in the book, of encountering Jesus knowing almost nothing about him. You have never heard or seen Jesus of Nazareth. You have no preconceived opinion. The media has not jaded your opinion. You are left to judge and make an assessment on face value. What would your opinion be? Would you be receptive to his new message? Would you be willing to become a disciple even though it might mean expulsion from the synagogue or exclusion from your community? How is it for you today? Are you a true disciple? How do you move forward your personal mission?


Drawing on his experience as a security threat analyst, working with the Department of Defense and software giant, Adobe, author Black has re-created the world of Christ in his sweeping novel, Maximus, depicting a Roman General who goes deeply undercover as a Jew to learn more about Jesus and investigate his claims as the son of God with divine power.


"This is a powerful novel on a grand scale with some of the great Biblical epics of the past. Sweeping motivations and grueling battles, both emotional and physical, fill its pages. It brings into focus the political background surrounding the life of Jesus Christ and introduces the moral dilemma facing those who choose to follow Him."

"Though nothing in this story identifies it as specifically LDS, it follows in well-researched detail the significant events of the last few months before the crucifixion as viewed by humble peasants and powerful leaders. Those studying the New Testament as the Sunday School course of study this year will benefit greatly from reading Maximus. Not only is it a marvelous glimpse of history’s most significant event, but it is a rich and satisfying adventure filled with intrigue and a touch of romance." -Jennie Hansen, Meridian Magazine

Product Details

PublishedShadow Mountain (March 3, 2015)
Audiobook NarratorAdam Verner
Runtime13 Hrs. 51 Min.

About the Author

Richard L. Black

RICHARD L. BLACK is a family man and a devout follower of Jesus Christ. He attended California State University, Long Beach, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in finance and discovered his passion for writing. His professional background ranges from his work as an institutional stock trader to his work with a major software corporation closely associated with the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. Richard grew up in San Diego, California. He and his wife of thirty-nine years, Marian Anne Johnsen Black, are the parents of eight children and grandparents of three. Richard enjoys traveling, swimming in the ocean, playing the guitar, and working on cars with his four sons.

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Average rating:

(based upon 8 reviews)

Great Book but Poor CD Packaging
By , Submitted on 2017-12-12

I really enjoyed the book. It's a great story and the book is mostly very engaging and kept my attention. The depiction of life in the time of Christ was very interesting. I have the audiobook on CD, which is my preferred way of "reading" books, mostly while traveling. My only complaint is that the packaging for the CD version is very cheap and disappointing. There is no plastic case - just a thin cardboard case, and there are no individual protective sleeves for the CDs as with most Deseret Book CD audiobook products. They are just in cardboard pockets, which will result in scratched CDs in no time. Please don't publish any more CD books with this poor packaging!

By , Submitted on 2017-11-02

I disagree with the writer who gave a negative report about the book in regards to minor things such as everyone crying because I've lived and worked around Jews most of my life and they are just that way even today so I can just imagine them being more so in the time of Christ. As for falling inland be so quickly that to would have happened. I am 75 years old and even in the 50's we would have fallen in like e like that and very innocent like and nieve. Being careful about everything. As far as Maximus not meeting Jesus it wasn't his duty to meet him as much as it was to observe him and see his character. I loved the book and have read it twice so far. I felt it gave people the opertunity to really feel what it might have been living during the time of Christ. How they may have acted and lived. It helped you feel a part of the Jewish people who may have believed that Jesus was the Mesiah. It had to be hard on them and it gives us an idea how some became followers and believers. It changed my way of thinking about many scriptures I read now and pictures I see. I look at them different now and I appreciate them in a different way. I appreciate people different as well. I see my good Jewish friends different and all others different as well. It's as though I seeeach person through God's eye as we should and if anything I think this book brought a new life tand meaning to the life of Jesus and the followers he had during his time on earth. I think it is a wonderful book and I love it.

Just couldn't put it down!!
By , Submitted on 2017-10-24

'Maximus: Soldier at the Cross"
By: Richard L. Black

I love this book so much that it has easily reached my top three! I love the story line and how well everything progressed, and it never came up short of my expectations. What an amazing story of a Roman general and his journey from being an under cover "Jewish" spy sent from the Roman empire to investigate a man named Jesus, to being a true follower of Jesus Christ. I loved how the story moved along well with the bible story and made the events seem real and imaginable. I loved seeing this story that just might be close to how history actually happened, and how many people felt about the events at that time. Being the history nut that I am, I loved getting at least some insight as to what was actually happening at that exciting time, and how the Jewish or Christian religions worked at that time.
The story was so exciting at all times, and didn't have a single boring moment. I loved the type of narration that this author used, and how effective it was at delivering each event that was unfolded and allowed the reader to get many of the characters perspectives on each event. This is a book that I will read again and again, because this is a classic!

This story fell short!
By , Submitted on 2016-04-21

Oh, where do I begin? I don't like leaving reviews. I mean, no one ever likes a negative review, but I asked myself, "Would I have wanted to read this review before buying this book?" And my answer was a resounding, "Yes!" So here I am.
This story had so much potential! I mean the description captivates you, the front picture entrances you, and the reviews convince you this is the best thing since sliced bread (which is a very funny idiom.) So of course you buy it and wait eagerly for the long awaited book to arrive. But I will tell you now, (so you don't have to read my whole review--unless, that is, if you want to.) It is not worth 25.99 hardcover, e-book 9.99, MP3 17.99, or cd 39.95. If you get the book on discount, I'd consider it, but with reservation of what you will be getting.

Unfortunately this book fell short in so many unexpected ways for me. And IF it was just the few typo's that I found, or the extensive use of adverbs, I could have passed by them without too much interruption, but by the end of Chapter 5, I almost closed the book for good. Why, you ask? Well, you see I had a problem with my red pen itching to circle and write in the margins at every turn of the page. BUT--I could not, in good conscious, leave a review without reading the entire thing. I owed the writer that much.

Here is what I see:

Postitive-- The story line is complete. He ties up all the threads in the book and doesn't leave any piece hanging. You end on a happy note, even though the Crucifixion is not easy to write about. The story is compelling, and even though my comments below spell out all the improvements I saw, I still ultimately liked it. (I say that with much reservation) I wouldn't say I loved it, or I would buy it for my mom, but the idea has merit. The story world he creates is very well written. You can tell he researched the time period.

Needs improvement: ( I know it's a little too late for improvement, but hey, its better than saying "negative." Besides, I don't know why some of these things weren't caught before printing in the first place.)

Richard L. Black attempts to write this book in Third Person Omniscient Point-of-View, which means he has the freedom to give you multiple character's viewpoints in a single story. That is all fine and dandy, BUT It is also one of the most difficult to master. Most stories are written in Third person limited. Why? Well, because if not executed well, it can lead to "Head-hopping." Which means you are jumping from one character's head--their inner thoughts and feelings--to the next within the same scene. This is a constant problem in this book. IF you are in a head, stay there until the next scene and then you have permission to move on, or don't "get in their head" in the first place, thus eliminating "Head-hopping."

The characters come across flat, without much depth. Why? well, most of their changes and growth happened in the past and you are just reading it in a summery. Your inciting event is Maximus going to Judea, but there is little conflict, very little for you to hope for. He immediately believes Jesus, He immediately falls in love and she with him, he immediately receives an answer to prayer, etc, etc. And this is true with all the characters. They always get what they want, when "Jacob and Levi" (who are Maximus's and Androcles fake names) leave the "Love' of their lives" only after 2 days with being with them.

The Protagonist in the story is Maximus. That is clear, but who is your Antagonist? This was unclear to me.

The story is given summery form with intermittent scenes. Meaning, you are told what happened, i.e." He spoke for an hour. The words made her cry. If they returned to Capernaum now, they would have been fed for a lifetime."

Speaking of crying, EVERYONE in this book cries! That is not normal. That is NOT the first emotion people have and to have characters crying left and right, you think, what are they doing, walking on needles?

The love story thread in this book had so much potential! So much more could have gone into the conflicts that were inherently there. I mean you have a Roman fall in love with a Jew, which is forbidden! So much is already there, but you just want more! So much more tension could have been built, and stretched, and pulled so it left you breathless, wondering how can possibly be together. You have a little in there, don't get me wrong. The guys do leave the girls to their endless tears and woes, but it could have been hot and boiling tension, and instead you had a warm sweat, one that cooled all too quickly.

I hope this review is helpful. I felt that the other reviews on here were not very true to form, but hey, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and everyone is different. You may get this book and think it is better than sliced bread! I do hope so. For me, and my writing brain, I just couldn't get past all the things that had been drilled into my head of "not to do." I couldn't fully enjoy the story because I kept getting pulled out of the story world Richard had successfully created into edit mode.

By , Submitted on 2015-09-17

compelling. Well written and well plotted. A gentle retelling of a different world, a different time, a different viewpoint.

A good "ebook" read
By , Submitted on 2015-03-19

I enjoyed reading this on my IPad. It is well written and the pacing is good. You do not get an in-depth study of the Savior's life. Maximus arrives in the Holyland shortly before the Savior's crucifixion. He never meets the Savior, but he does witness Him teaching and performing miraculous healings. Maximus receives a witness of the Savior's divinity, if not his mission. The story is just to brief for much spiritual development. I am comparing the story to The Kingdom and the Crown series, and it is an unfair comparison. The author had a specific story he was telling of a Roman general being dissatisfied with brutal Roman conquests and seeking a change for the better in his life. He and his cohort travel to Judea on assignment from Emperor Tiberius to ascertain whether Jesus is a threat to Roman rule. They meet a Jewish family and there find romance and acceptance. It's a good yarn and well worth reading, as long as you don't expect in-depth and detailed historical fiction.

By , Submitted on 2015-03-09

A FASCINATING look into the life and times of Jesus~

Two high ranking Roman soldiers impersonate common Jewish men...

In order to follow Jesus to see who he is, what he does, and to see if he is a threat to the Roman empire.

They are to report directly to Pontius Pilate under order of emperor Tiberius.

These two men, Maximus and Androcles, who have fought long, hard battles...

Now find themselves fully immersed in Jewish traditions and living with a family in the fishing village of Capernaum.

They not only watch Jesus teach and follow his movements, but they also question those who have been taught and changed by Him.

Follow Maximus and Androcles as they shed their Roman warrior attire and become Jacob and Levi...

Two humble and non-confrontational Jewish men questioning- who is this Jesus?

"Is it possible this carpenter from Nazareth is the Son of God?
Is it possible for a man of war to live a life of peace?"

One you will not be able to put down!

Couldn't put it down!
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

This story grabbed me right from the beginning and took me on a thought provoking journey! I loved the characters, and the story weaved though events in the bible, causing me to consider what it might have been like to have lived when Jesus was on the earth. I loved it, and highly recommend it!

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