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on May 28, 2001
It is my experience that this is the least popular of the Big Book series, usually because it treats its subject matter with a more serious tone than all the other books. However, being an information junkie who also appreciates good art, I feel that this book does a good job of delivering on both.
While I have never been accused of being the best of Christians, it is my opinion that this subject matter deserves to be treated seriously and respectfully given that it often involves telling the stories of people standing up for their message of love and peace at the threat of violence (a lesson less tolerant Christians can learn from).
Many of the saints should not be subject to criticism, regardless of the imperfect record of the Catholic church. That being said, not everyone who has been granted sainthood is really a saint. For example, some were mere barbarians respected by the Catholic church for their zeal in slaughtering innocent people of different faiths. But this book, while being respectful of the title of saint, does not cower from pointing out these occassional pieces of hypocrisy. Also included in this book is a chapter dealing with saints who were purely fictional (and are even recognized as such by the Catholic church) including the still popular St. Christopher (of the medallion fame), but I'd be surpised at anyone taking this as an attack on their faith.
Since this book is about the history of saints and the process (and politics) of cannonization, it is factual regardless of one's personal faith or lack thereof, but I am sure it appeals to Christians the most. But the interesting stories and artwork are worthwhile for anyone to experience, and, yes, even the nonreligious can find inspiration in tales of people standing up for their beliefs in the face of persecution, including those who have been targeted by the Catholic church.
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on April 9, 2002
While many students might find reading about the lives of early or memorable Christians boring or time-consuming, the stories of religion's greatest heroes must not be forgotten. "The Big Book of Martyrs" is an excellent book to have especially if you have children or young adults who find reading a comic book much more interesting and entertaining.
Illustrated in the form of comic strips, The stories of many great and memorable Christian martyrs such as Joan of Arc and St. Paul are told in a respectful, interesting manner. Using dialogue and excellent pencil drawings, the lives of these martyrs comes to life as the reader becomes very interested with every page they turn.
Illustrated by over fifty of the world's top comic artists, "The Big Book of Martyrs" is an excellent companion book to have around when studying theology. It hits all the right spots when covering the lives of every subject featured in the book, and it is overwhelmingly entertaining. The book should be popular with the young adult crowd due to the fact that the book is composed of comic strips, however adults shouldn't rule it out of their reading lists.
Overall, this is a great book to have. It will provide countless times of very inspirational and educational reading to anyone who picks it up.
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on April 16, 1999
Most current books of this type belittle Christianity. This book is respectful. It carefully distinguishes fact from legend. I've read many history books and this summarizes all you will really remember from a big thick book and the pictures actually help you remember the story.
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on May 30, 1999
While the rest Big book series handles subjects with more than normal dose of irreverance, this book shifts gears and handles the subject with all reverance due to the subject, while maintaining the seperation of legend and fact. The artwork is also respectful of the subject, and in all cases fitting. Noteworthy entries are the first Martyrs of Rome, with Gahan Wilson's appropriately grotesque images of Nero's atrocities, and Trina Roberts' good girl artwork for St. Agnes, the ultimate good girl.
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on April 8, 1999
As a devout Catholic I very much enjoyed The Big Book of Martyrs. It is done in black and white by fifty different artists. The pictures can be quite gruesome and it is suggested for mature readers. I recommend this for both teens and adults, but only males, most women find it too gruesome. The writing is quite pious, but some of the artists may not be. Nevertheless, I read and reread it. A medical student friend also liked it, but a lawyer friend didn't. Another friend has expressed interest in reading it. Like all comics it tends to get read again and again. As the directions state that we should mention other books that you might be interested in, let me mention some other religious comics available on Amazon.com. Tip, if you do not find it under the title, search for it under the author. The Picture Bible by Ivan Hoth, I particularly recommend this one. Heros of the Bible by Carolyn Larsen. The Comic Book Bible by Rob Suggs. One last point, comics have a powerful ability to grab an audience, children, teens, and adults. This makes them a great evangelical tool.
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on November 10, 2009
If you love any sort of well drawn graphic novels, it's really good. Well known and maybe not so well known saints from the ancient to the modern and includes likely saint hopefuls.
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on July 25, 2003
I picked up the Big Book of Martyrs because I love all of the Factoid Books. As a series, they are irreverent, concise, witty, and always interesting.
As mentioned by a few other reviewers, the Big Book of Martyrs treats its subject matter with more respect than other subjects covered by the series. Check out the chapter on Princess Di in the Big Book of Scandal to see Paradox Press at its most scathing. But while poking fun at the foibles of the British monarchy can be entertaining, mocking people who died for their faith is tasteless. So I was relieved to see that the martyrs were not depicted as ridiculous.
However, these are not wholly objective descriptions of the saints' lives. The book seems to have been written by Christians for Christians. I myself am not a Christian, and I was hoping for a more secular approach.
It is still worth reading though. There are plenty of weird stories, such as the woman who woke up with a beard, after praying to be made unattractive. The beard caused her arranged husband-to-be to reject her, allowing her to keep her sworn virginity intact. St. Christopher's story is pretty strange, as well.
I do not recommend giving this book to children, since there are some graphic images, such as St. Stephen being stoned to death.
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on March 7, 2015
Tons of comics in this, great value and very informative.
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on November 1, 1998
The cover may suggest that the book focuses on Catholic martyrs only. And that's true. The book exclusively deals with these stories, and lacks the humor and tawdriness of other books from the series (urban legends, losers, weirdos). I'm only keeping this one because it's part of the series. The illustrations are run-of-the-mill and, unless you are looking for a religious book, the stories are uninteresting. While I've certainly become more educated on the tales behind these famous saints, I had expected something else. Certainly there are Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and other religious martyrs, as well as martyrs for the labor movement, the peace movement, etc. That might have made for a more interesting book. No attempt is made to get inside the minds of any of these saints, and because the writers did not develop these characters as real people, facing challenges to their faith, they all seem like fables. A little creative license might have shown us how difficult it was to die for their cause and let us sympathize with them more, giving them more flesh and realism. The book fails at that miserably. These aren't people. These are saints. The other Big Books seemed more plausible. Even the Urban Legends book. I guess one of the problems with buying online is you can't flip through the book and sample it. Too bad. Definitely the worst of the series.
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on October 27, 2010
This book's subject was an odd choice for the series. Yes, there were interesting historical bits to pick up, but so many of the martyrs were subject to legend that the contents of this book are a very mixed bag. It would have been nice to see the inclusion of "St. Peter the Aleut" but I suspect that would have been offensive to a lot of the readership.

This is a great book series. Add this to your collection if you have got Factoid books already, but don't start here.
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