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The Light Bearer Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 1996

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 1024 pages
  • Publisher: Jove (November 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0515119660
  • ISBN-13: 978-0515119664
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.2 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (105 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,435,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Quo Vadis for our times! Well, not exactly. It's been awhile since anyone tackled the Roman Empire as entertainingly as Gillespie has done in this book, a nearly-straight historical novel which should please readers of fantasy, too. Germanic Auriane is a combination of the noble, natural savage, and the heroine marked from birth for great deeds. Roman Marcus Julianus is the personification of the highest civilized, republican Roman values. Both are typical and atypical of their societies, fighting for what each believes to be just. Their individual struggles with the clashing Roman and Teutonic cultures are carried out in the Northern forests and in the salons and arena of Rome. Strongly- drawn characters, a setting both familiar and exotic (we all know something of imperial Rome, but very few of us are well-informed about it), a whiff of New-Age ancient mysticism, and a subdued but important romance subplot drive the sweeping novel of Auriane's growth and maturity and Rome's decadence.

From Publishers Weekly

Probably the greatest compliment to Gillespie's first novel is that at 800 pages, the book isn't too long. Spanning the years between A.D. 52-shortly before Nero's accession-and Nerva's accession in 96, the novel invokes tribal warfare, two tyrants, Domitian's terror, gladiatorial spectacles, blood vengeance, imperial intrigues and a mythic love. At the center is Auriane, the daughter of a Chattian chieftain fated to lead her tribe against Rome but also to disgrace it by murdering her father. On the other side of the Alps is Marcus Julianus, a philosophically disposed nobleman trying to salvage justice under the despotic Nero and Domitian. Marcus is haunted by his late father's vague records of a German warrior maid and the two finally meet when Auriane is captured in Domitian's Chattian campaign. Gillespie depends too much on the reader's indulgence when describing the lovers early meetings; they are portentous fated conjoinings rather than a naturally evolving attraction. But this is a quibble because the romance is secondary to the mature couple's greater, more pressing concerns. For anyone interested in this tumultuous period of Roman despotism and Germanic tribes, Gillespie's epic is an intriguing recording of everyday detail, national issues and, more impressively, overarching influences of religion and psychology. Advertising.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Donna Gillespie is the author of two historical novels set in first century Rome, The Light Bearer (Berkley/Putnam, 1994) and Lady of the Light (Berkley/Putnam, 2006). The Light Bearer received a "starred" review in Publishers Weekly, has been translated into German, Dutch, Russian and Italian and was optioned by Hallmark Entertainment for a miniseries. Her second novel, Lady of the Light, is the sequel to The Light Bearer, and is also available in German and Italian.

Gillespie was born in 1948 in Gainesville, Florida, and graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Architecture and Fine Art. Her love of historical novels began at age thirteen when she discovered Mary Renault's sagas of ancient Greece. She credits the novels of Robert Graves -- I Claudius and Claudius the God -- with her enduring interest in the culture and mores of ancient Rome. She has lived in San Francisco since 1971, where presently she is the copyeditor and occasional contributor to her neighborhood newspaper, The New Fillmore. She's currently working on the third novel of the trilogy that began with The Light Bearer.

For more information, and to see the author's blog, please visit her web site at

Customer Reviews

The characters are very well developed.
Graham D. Lincoln
Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys good literature, but of special interest to fans of historic fiction.
Clarice Marchman-Jones
I'm sure I will read this book every year of my life.
Lilly Flora

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Graham D. Lincoln VINE VOICE on July 23, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Since I picked-up this book, I have not been able to put it down. Not since Tolkien's trilogy have I been so captivated by a story. The characters are surprisingly well-developed and "real."
Normally, fiction does not affect me the way this novel has, but this is one of those extremely Rare novels that makes you want to jump into the book and avenge the characters, or fight by their side.
I love the format of the book. The author uses a Stephen King style, in the sense of starting one character's story, then alternating between the main character's life story, and other integral character's life stories, keeping you on the edge of your seat, with anticipation.
The characters are very well developed. I have not cared this much about fictional characters, for a long time! The author not-only lets you see through their eyes, but makes you feel what they feel. She creates scenes which draw you in and will not let you go.
I strongly suggest giving a weekend to this novel.
So much happens to the main characters, in the first 100 pages, you wonder what the rest of the book could possibly be about! However, the book just keeps getting better and better, as you read. There are times, when you just cannot imagine what may happen next. This is the most Unpredictable novel I have read, in years.
If most fiction bores you, purchase The Light Bearer, now. The historical detail and the amazingly descriptive text, combined with the author's obviously vast wealth of spiritual and cultural insight, make this novel a treasure.
I hope I can one day be half the Anthropologist the author seems to be! If history were taught in this format, I believe young people would be more excited about learning.
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on January 15, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Better a spirit that does not quite fit in this world than one that is broken."
Such is said by Baldemar, chieftain of the Chattian tribe on the border between the wild lands of Germanis and the ever-encroaching Roman empire. His daughter Auriane is our heroine for this rousing adventure tale, and she proves her father's words in spades.
As a young girl, Auriane wants nothing more than to be a happy wife and mother, like her own mother, comfortable and beloved by the hearthfire. But her first taste of battle leaves her unsatisfied with such a life; fighting awakens a dark passion in her that she does not quite understand. Adding to her confusion, the high priestess Ramis predicts that Auriane is also gifted with the powers of magic. Then Auriane is thrown into the middle of the Roman-Chattian war. I don't want to give away too much of the plot, but let me just say that violence, treachery, danger, and true love abound.
Gillespie is talented at depicting her world. She is equally at home in the forests of Germania and the crowded streets of Rome, and she takes us along with her. She has the gift of a Margaret George or Kathleen Winsor for showing us historical detail we never could have imagined. She's obviously done her research on everything from Roman politics to pagan customs to battle tactics. But don't be deceived--this is no dry historical text! I was so caught up in the story I was yelling cheers at the good guys and obscenities at the bad guys, not to mention begging for more as I realized I was on the last page. My only gripe is that Auriane seems too good to be true at times--but maybe I wouldn't have liked the book so much had she not been "larger than life". It's hard to say.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
One of the finest examples of HISTORICAL fiction I have read. There is a romance component to this novel, but it is very much in the sub-plot category. The characters are complex and developing throughout the book, the setting - including the warring psychology and belief systems of Rome and the 'barbarians' - are wonderfully described. I am still 'haunted' by some of the imagery and marvelous juxtapositions in this book (after a couple of weeks). On the other hand, the historical detail does not prevent this from being a page-turner - and a pretty easy read.
After reading this book, Donna Gillespie has made it high on my list of favorite historical fiction (loosely defined) authors, which includes Margaret George, India Edghill, Edward Rutherfurd, Steven Pressfield, Diana Gabaldon, Ken Follett, Irving Stone, and Sharon Kay Penman. All of these authors have varying styles, but what unites them is portrayal of the paradigms of the times about which they write through well-researched detail. The Light Bearer is a perfect example of this amazing talent. If you enjoy HISTORICAL historical fiction, and some of the authors above, this is a book for you.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Lilly Flora VINE VOICE on October 11, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The old Roman Empire was a kind of nasty place to be if you weren't Roman. But for Auriane, a daughter of the Germanic tribes, it's become a hell on earth. All Auriane really wanted in life was to be like her lovely mother and have a good home. But being born to the warlike Chatti tribe as the daughter of the tribes' leader insures her life will different than she planned. From her first day on earth when a powerful seer/witch woman predicts she will cause the death of her father-the greatest sin a person can commit, Auriane is different. Over her short teenage years she becomes a daughter of the earth, a warrior women sworn to protect her people, and never know the touch of a man.

Yet all along a young man in Rome, Marcus Julianus, gutter rat who turned out to be the lost son of a Senator has been wearing a bag of dirt around his neck, a bag given to his father by a wise woman of the Chatti tribes, a bag that there is only one other like...around Auriane's neck.

Destiny collides in the fierce arena of the Roman imperial court and the terrile but lovely woods and bogs of Auriane's home. Auriane must fight for her life against the might of Rome and Marcus Julianus must fight for his own in the corrupt Emperors court...can these two people prevail?

This is a wonderful book. It's full of life, and the descriptions are so vivid I found myself wondering that I was reading a book, not falling back in time-and I am normally not a fan of ancient historical fiction at all. In fact I have purposly avoided it ever since I started reading historical fiction when I was a kid. But this book changed all that!
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