The Peregrine's Odyssey

Burnt Offerings - A Novel of Early Christianity

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
424 Pages
Reviewed on 09/17/2019
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Author Biography

Throughout my high school and college years I was fortunate to have a number of literature professors who planted the seeds that someday might sprout a novel or two.
After graduating from the University of California-Davis in 1970 I began a 30-year career in business insurance and risk management.
Now "retired," I have the luxury to pursue that life-long dream of being a published author.
Over the years, I've dabbled in a number of genres and finally found the “it” that I enjoy and that employs my interests and experience.
For the past fifteen years I have been active in Church ministry. One ministry in particular married an interest in history (Roman imperial period) with the history of early Christianity. The overarching questions I often asked were: What was it like to be one of the first Christians? And, why would a "pagan" get involved with or practice this radically strange religion? How can we, twenty centuries later, relate?
Four years ago, I began this project—a series of historical-fiction novels I call Burnt Offerings—delving into this period of Roman and Christian history, entering the world, the culture, the lives of the first Christians and their Roman neighbors. A secondary purpose was to (re)introduce some of the important Christian figures who were so instrumental in promoting (evangelizing) and defining what Christianity was and would become.
This first book, The Peregrine's Odyssey, begins our journey into this early period of our shared history of western civilization.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Lois Henderson for Readers' Favorite

Immersed in the world of ancient Rome, Michael Kleinfall’s epic, The Peregrine’s Odyssey, tells the story of the deep fraternal bond that develops between Gaius Segusiavus, “the Peregrine,” and Ignatius the Younger, both from wealthy merchant families, which outlasts even death. This work of historical fiction relates as a central thread how Ignatius converts from Judaism to a profound faith in the Christian religion, while the Romano-Gallic Gaius, his comrade-in-arms, draws ever closer to him, despite their religious differences. The sociocultural depth of the world that Kleinfall describes in astounding detail, embracing the entire ambit of the world surrounding the Mare Nostrum (the Mediterranean Sea), is thrilling in the emotional charge and complexity that the author imparts to his vast panoply of characters, stretching across the generations.

Intended for an extremely broad audience, Kleinfall’s The Peregrine’s Odyssey should have a special interest for young adults. Read as a gripping adventure story, with its overwhelming momentum and drive towards the unexpected, the hoped-for and the feared, the novel should prove pleasing to those in search of an entertaining and engrossing read. That it has an inescapable deeper meaning for those who wish to look more deeply is unavoidable, though, whether you choose to revel in the historical accuracy of the text (supplemented by the Segusiavus family tree, numerous maps and black-and-white shaded drawings of the cities in which the action takes place, an extensive afterword, providing background information as to various key aspects of Roman and Early Christian life, detailed lists of the principal and other notable characters, and a multi-paged glossary), or to probe its deeper spiritual significance. I especially love the fact that The Peregrine’s Odyssey is only the first of an entire series of works, Burnt Offerings, that is destined for publication, all in due course.

K.C. Finn

The Peregrine’s Odyssey: Burnt Offerings is a work of historical fiction focusing on early Christianity and the struggles of its followers, and was penned by author Michael Kleinfall. In a story told in the first and second centuries, we follow the intertwined history of the eventual bishop and martyr Ignatius and his friend Gaius Segusiavus, the title’s ‘Peregrine’. Through ancient Rome, Asia, Bithynia and beyond, we follow the story of Ignatius’s conversion to the Christian faith, and the eventual price he pays for his determination to practice and teach his religion. Gaius narrates the journey of amazing discovery, fascinating and famous people of the era, right up to the moment in 116 AD where everything changes for this pair of close, brotherly friends.

Written for adults due to some mild explicit content and complex themes, this pairing of men discovering and learning something new in a very dangerous time makes for fascinating reading. The combination of biblical stories and personages alongside the historical evidence content gives a well-rooted feel to the tale, giving the authentic experience of what it must have been like to practice an ‘unlawful’ faith at the hands of the Romans. I found the descriptions and dialogue were able to really transport me back in time, and author Michael Kleinfall gives full emotional and spiritual consideration to his characters, making them realistic, likable and easy to root for. Overall, The Peregrine’s Odyssey: Burnt Offerings makes for compelling reading and will suit fans of both historical and Christian fiction tastes.

Vincent Dublado

This story deserves a rightful place in the annals of religious historical fiction. Michael Kleinfall’s The Peregrine’s Odyssey: Burnt Offerings conveys the splendor and enchantment of the past as it highlights the story of Ignatius, bishop of Antioch in Syria. It traces his beginnings up to his condemnation and martyrdom as witnessed by his close friend, Gaius “The Peregrine” Segusiavus. The novel puts the reader in a front-row seat on the itineraries of Christianity--how it spread and spawned hatred from the time of Nero, and how it led to the persecution of those who kept the faith. Gaius provides a first-person narration of the events beginning in 96 AD. He gives an account of his conversion to the Christian faith that he refers to as “The Way.”

While Ignatius and Gaius are the focal characters in this novel, Kleinfall throws a combination of fictional and historical characters into the mix. These real and imagined people contribute to the development of the plot and are not put in merely for authenticated effect. Blending factual and fictional characters in a novel of this magnitude can prove to be a challenging read. Kleinfall provides maps and Gaius’ family tree for reference. At the end of the book, there is a list of all the characters that appear, with the historical figures printed in italics. It is important to note that artistic license is involved, which Kleinfall feels is necessary to make the story more engaging. The Peregrine’s Odyssey is the first book in a series of historical novels. This first installment has set the bar high enough through diligent research and well drawn-out characters. It is entertaining and educational, and perhaps we can have the same expectations of the next book in the series.