Slave, soldier, lover, hero, saint,—his life mirrored the cataclysmic world into which he was born. His memory will outlast the ages.
Born of a noble Welsh family, he is violently torn from his home by Irish raiders at age sixteen and sold as a slave to a brutal wilderness king. Rescued by the king's druids from almost certain death, he learns the arts of healing and song, and the mystical ways of a secretive order whose teachings tantalize with hints at a deeper wisdom. Yet young Succat Morgannwg cannot rest until he sheds the strangling yoke of slavery and returns to his homeland across the sea. He pursues his dream of freedom through horrific war and shattering tragedy—through great love and greater loss—from a dying, decimated Wales to the bloody battlefields of Gaul to the fading majesty of Rome. And in the twilight of a once-supreme empire, he is transformed yet again by divine hand and a passionate vision of "truth against the world," accepting the name that will one day become legend . . . Patricius!
Devotees of prolific historical novelist Lawton (The Iron Lance) will enjoy this picaresque, which follows the legendary eponymous Irish saint through the "lost years" between his escape from slavery and his missionary work in Ireland. Though Succat, the hero, does not receive his more familiar name until late in the story and doesn't encounter even a single snake, he blazes a thrilling and meticulously researched trail across the Holy Roman Empire. Succat, the son of a Christian family of well-to-do fifth-century Britons, is captured by Irish raiders and sent to Ireland as a slave. After years of brutal conditions, he manages to escape. Having lost his faith in the Christian God while a slave, Succat studies druid theology and lives in a home with other druids, who give him the name "Patrick," Celtic for nobleman. He eventually returns to Britain; serves for a while as an assistant to Bishop Cornelius, who helps him find his faith again; studies in Gaul; and goes on to Rome, where he becomes a city official, marries and has a daughter. Yet Patrick is haunted by his memories of Ireland and comes to believe that he has a special mission there: to convert the Irish people to Christianity. His triumphant return changes the history of Eire. Lawhead wisely keeps the fantasy and folklore to a minimum and never grants Succat superhuman qualities. Patrick is unfailingly sympathetic and believable, and his story of losing and finding faith will resonate with a wide spectrum of readers.