Lion of Babylon (Marc Royce)

by Davis Bunn

Paperback, 2011



Call number




Bethany House Publishers (2011), 384 pages

Original publication date



Fiction. Suspense. Christian Fiction. Thriller. An American operative sent to rescue two vanished soldiers in Iraq finds himself in the midst of a centuries-old conflict of religion, violence, and hatred.


Audie Award (Finalist — 2012)


Original language


Physical description

384 p.; 8.4 inches


0764209051 / 9780764209055

User reviews

LibraryThing member eclipse75048
I was expecting a Brad Thor, shoot 'em up, constitution be damned, "America...F*ck yeah!" kind of read, and was pleasantly surprised with a compelling story of political and religious turmoil in modern day Iraq.

My first impressions were that it was a little heavy on the Jesus, but I had no clue
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until after I read the book that the author is considered a Christian writer.

The plot moves along quickly, with enough detours to keep you on your toes. Other than a few weak points where I think the author takes a little too optimistic view of his fellow man, it's a solid story.

Short summary: enough shoot 'em up to keep your interest peaked if you're a Clancy/Thor/Brown reader mixed with some well researched history of the region (with more than a soupçon of religious optimism mixed throughout)
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LibraryThing member Tarheel668
"So authentic I could taste the sand in my mouth"

1) Book started fast - Setup was quick, we got right to the action, storyline was sharp.

2) Characters were believable right from the start

3) Author does a great job with the espionage genre. I can't believe I have never heard of him before

4) I wasn't
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familiar with the Christian layer that was woven into the book. It did slow the book down at certain points. It was not a deal killer, I just haven't run across this with other spy thrillers.

5) Nice Job - I would read other books from this author.

6) It would be interesting to see if the author could turn the two major characters into a series.
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LibraryThing member CLMCQ57
I really enjoyed this book. I was surprised when I saw the publisher's name - since I didn't expect this book to have a religious theme when I heard about it. The book was a quick read, didn't want to put it down. I enjoyed the positive emphasis placed on the Iraqis regardless of their religious
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preferences. The main characters were extremely realistic and I would love to read more about them in the future. The way Christianity was tied into the book was really interesting and made for a good story. However; I'm not sure that aspect is very realistic. Overall, I would highly recommend the book to others and will definitely seek out other books written by this author.
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LibraryThing member plunkinberry
I really liked this book and give it top marks! Five stars! It was refreshing and new; somewhat different than what I've been reading lately, but I liked the premise of the story. I have never heard of or read Mr. Bunn before but I will definitely pursue others.
Good characters, good plot, fast
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passed, interesting. The characters were well developed and complicated, deep and likable all at once. The plot was intricate and fast paced but not overly complicated or confusing. I am not an overly religious person, but I do believe in God and Jesus; the religious theme and basis of the plot was nice but didn’t hit you over the head. The story was set in Bagdad, Iraq and it was nice to see that there are moderates among the Muslim community. I don’t believe that this book was part of a series, which is somewhat unfortunate because I really liked Marc (main character) and Sameh (another main character) and I’d have liked to see a relationship develop between Marc and Sameh’s niece.
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LibraryThing member rufusraider
This is a very good book. It is set in current Iraq. The main character is brought back by his former boss to find a friend that went missing in Iraq with several other people. The main character is involved in the search with several Iraqis. The best part of the story line is the interaction with
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the Iraqis who are of different religious groups. An important part of the story is the trust that develops that allows the group to accomplish several important goals.
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LibraryThing member Davidvoz
This is a great read. I started and before I realized I had to stop because the story finished. The characters came to life from the first page and the story had a great balance and flow. The story has even layers to interest everyone and highlights the struggles we all face. Davis Bunn takes us on
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a great ride with this book. I really need to see how I have never read some of his other books. Lion of Babylon is one of the best books I have read in the past year and it is already on my list to read again.
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LibraryThing member tottman
Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn is filled with intensity from the first page to the last. Each page carries a sincerity and a depth of meaning that draws you further into the world of these characters.

Marc Royce is a former U.S. Intelligence Operative who was pulled away from his job to care for his
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dying wife. Without her or his old job his life has been at a standstill. Marc is called upon by the boss who fired him to go into Iraq and locate an old friend of Marc’s who has gone missing along with two other Americans and an Iraqi. People that governments in both countries are not sure that they want found. In Iraq, he meets Sameh el-Jacobi, the most honest man in Iraq. The men form a friendship through mutual assistance and respect. They must work together to find the missing persons with the direction of the country and the Middle East hanging in the balance.

Davis Bunn creates a convincing portrait of a present-day Iraq. His descriptions are vivid enough that you feel the sun beating down and you and taste the dust in your throat. It is a picture of an Iraq searching for its own way forward and a people trying to live their lives with danger and uncertainty around every corner, and the reminders of their tragic past everywhere they look.

The main characters are fleshed out with fully-examined motivations. They are in many ways impossibly good people, but they still manage to be believable and you come to care about them and what happens to them. The descriptions of the characters are vivid and poetic: “Up close the man revealed an odd aura, like bullets not yet fired.” An author with a less deft touch could make these descriptions seem corny, but there is a sincerity that comes through the writing that avoids that here.

The plot moves along at a steady pace and the action segments are well-written and exciting. The plot and its characters rely heavily on Christian faith. This may work at odds with the middle-eastern setting, but the characters and the writing are so well done that the book stands as an outstanding thriller. Highly recommended.
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LibraryThing member Jarratt
I won Davis Bunn’s “Lion of Babylon” through LibraryThing’s Early Reader program. I’d never read “Christian fiction” before even though I subscribe to that faith. When I realized the genre (it’s also a somewhat low-key thriller), I hoped I wouldn’t be preached to. I was pleasantly
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surprised with this book both in its action and theme.

The life of Marc Royce, who had been an intelligence officer until he was fired for taking too much of a leave of absence helping his wife unsuccessfully battle cancer, was in a downward spiral. When his former boss asks Marc to go into Iraq to help rescue a close friend of Marc’s who’s disappeared along with a few other Americans and an Iraqi, Marc takes up the challenge. Strangely, neither the American or Iraqi governments seem too concerned with these disappearances.

Within hours of arriving in Iraq, Royce meets and befriends Sameh el-Jacobi, a lawyer and one of a few Christian Iraqis. As they search for clues to what happened to those kidnapped, along with another kidnapping mystery, they find themselves trusting each other more and more. Mix in the son of a Grand Imam who’s much more open minded and willing to help heal his country, and you’ve got an interesting mix of politics, religion, and the basic human hope for liberty and self-governance.

While I’m a big fan of Vince Flynn, this book offers more hope in the healing of the Middle East. What happens probably isn’t very likely, but then, the book didn’t offer any kind of afterward by Bunn. So much in the book may well be based on truths hidden deep in Iraq.
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LibraryThing member lostinmyownlibrary
Disclaimer: I am easily entertained. I am NOT an english professor, nor a professional reviewer.
Just a normal person who finds reading and sometimes commenting on books enjoyable.
Read what follows with that in mind. Thanks.

Marc Royce is an ex-operative, that is until the man that fired him
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shows up at his church.
Ambassador Walton is the retired, not so retired, former boss of Royce, and he has a request.
Four people have gone missing in Iraq, Walton needs someone who can go and ask the questions he can't.

This is how Lion of Babylon begins and it just gets better from there.
Davis Bunn has himself a new fan in this reviewer. I am excited to read his previous works and looking forward to his future novels.
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LibraryThing member JohnFallows
This novel is a real page-turner. It has current events, good vs evil, geo-political intrigue, and plenty of character.
LibraryThing member tjward
This was an interesting read. The plot and the characters were well done and kept your attention. I am hopeful that Davis Bunn will continue the characters of Marc Royce and Leyla into the next book. And Sameh was an intriguing character as well.
It was interesting to learn so much about Iran and
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LibraryThing member lafon
I don't like Christian fiction. At all. Not because I have anything against Christianity (that would be completely untrue), but rather because it's (the genre, not the religion) usually very preachy. Trinity this, Jesus dying for you that. I have my own religion thank you very much. And I have no
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intention of leaving it.
I also don't like thrillers as a rule. More often than not (especially nowadays) they're about some courageous Marine or soldier from the States, who goes and prevents an evil (Muslim) terrorist from causing major mayhem.
There is one small problem: there are very few books about the Old World (by this I mean Arabia, and North Africa) that I have access to that aren't either Christian fiction, or a thriller, or worse both.
Yet in spite of my low expectations coming into this book (or maybe because of them) I was charmed. Not enough to fully get over the slightly unsubtle Jesus-is-a-saviour rhetoric that is evidenced throughout the work, but enough to enjoy myself.

You know what, I'm in a charitable mood, so i'm gonna rate this book three stars.
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LibraryThing member impactwriter
I struggled for a moment, considering whether to rate this with 4 or 5 stars. In the end, because this author went through so much research to pull this off, it tipped the scale upward.

I enjoyed being taken on a journey into the inner reaches of Iraq, where there is a combination of chaos and a
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"new normal" for those who live in that nation. One might call this a man's Anne of Green Gables> from the standpoint of whatever Anne seemed to touch turned out right. Outside of that, the intrigue and the push through danger and cultural differences made this a compelling read. I very much recommend this work of Bunn's.
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