The Centurion

Jan de Hartog, Author HarperCollins Publishers $18.95 (286p) ISBN 978-0-06-039094-5
Martinus Harinxma is now retired from the sea, but the story he narrates here is as exciting as the bestselling The Captain and The Commodore (in which he featured as protagonist), and certainly more wondrous. Prodded by his wife and inspired by T. S. Eliot's line, ``Old men ought to be explorers,'' Martinus takes up dowsing, finds he has a gift for it and, being a Roman history enthusiast, swings a pendulum over a long trail of Roman remains, largely in Britain. In the process he deserts linear time and becomes, or seems to become, a Roman centurion in the turbulent fourth century A.D. who is following in the footsteps of his son, a praepositus (colonel) ordered to put down a savage Welsh uprising. The story swings between the contemporary world and a vividly re-created former era, exploring the mysterious bond of fatherhood and the enigma of life itself. De Hartog is a dowser, and his elegantly told and historically knowledgeable story has a psychic dimension that transcends the fiction genre. It's a spellbinding novel, a tour de force combination of mystical exploration and compelling narrative drive. (June)
Reviewed on: 07/06/1989
Release date: 07/01/1989
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next