This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.
Spirit of the Sword: Pride and Fury was offered up for review by author Frances Smith; it is (so far as I can make out) a self-publishes piece, set in a fantasy world which draws heavily on the Roman Empire for inspiration but throws in a substantially greater level of gender equality and a heap of magic, fantasy races, and magic. The story starts off in Corona, a province of the Empire. Coronan names are clearly based on Hebrew names, and the province’s history riffs on the history of Roman-occupied Judea here and there, though the Coronans aren’t quite monotheistic so much as they practice monolatry – they acknowledge the existence and respect other gods because in this world their existence is an objectively observable fact, but they have a Covenant specifically with Turo, god of the seas, and worship him with sufficient unwavering loyalty that they tend to just think of him as “God”.
And just like Judea in the buildup to the revolt, the region is terrorised by fanatical, murderous rebels who are out to win Corona’s independence and don’t care how much blood they spill to do it. In our timeline they were called the Zealots; here, they are called the Crimson Rose. The two main characters of the novel, sibling duo Michael and Miranda, are Imperial loyalists who have taken very different courses in life ever since being bereaved by Crimson Rose action; Michael signed himself into slavery to compete as a gladiator in the arena, feeling that this in some small way allows him to emulate the heroes of Corona’s past, whilst Miranda uses a mysterious magical ability she was born with to work as a healer.