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The narrative begins when the Tribune Constantius, a Roman officer stationed in Britain, meets and wins Helena, only daughter of the mystical and oracular King Coel of Britain. Through the course of their early lives together, and during their ten-year separation when Constantius returns to Britian as a conquering Caesar and Helena has become a rejected wife, devoted mother, and militant Christian, there is a sure and convincing portrayal of character growth and personal conflict. Helena's fierce determination to raise Constantine as a warrior son and her gradual discovery and dramatic acceptance of Christianity prepare her for the final miracle of her life discovery of the True Cross, the Living Wood on Calvary.
The Living Wood is a chapter from the turbulent half-forgotten pages of early Christian history and legend in which the religious conflicts and problems are handled with moving simplicity. It is also an action-packed novel of those timeswith a lesson for us todaythat captures with equal skill and tumult and the shouting of the battlefield and the devious plots and counter-plots of the court.