As Sure as the Dawn
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"As Sure as the Dawn" Characters Analysis

By Francine Rivers

christian fiction | 520 pages | Published in 1995

The third installment in the Mark of the Lion trilogy. Following A Voice in the Wind and An Echo in the Darkness, As Sure as the Dawn continues the chronicles of Hadassah, a Christian slave woman living during the height of the Roman Empire. She has saved the life of the scorned child of a disreputable Roman woman and the Germanic gladiator, Atretes. For her faith, Hadassah now languishes in condemnation, awaiting death in a dungeon beneath the arena. Atretes, who holds fast to his dreams of revenge for the slaughter of his people, wants his son back. So he seeks out John the Baptist, who is the key to finding the custodian of his son, and brings his war-weary soul closer to redemption.


Estimated read time: 8 min read

List of Characters

Character NameRole
CalebSupporting Character
MarcellusSupporting Character
JuliaSupporting Character
HadassahSupporting Character

Role Identification

In the book "As Sure as the Dawn" by Francine Rivers, the main characters are Atretes and Rizpah. Atretes serves as the protagonist, while Rizpah also takes on a significant role as a protagonist. Other important supporting characters include Caleb, Marcellus, Julia, and Hadassah.

Character Descriptions

Atretes: Atretes is a fierce and determined gladiator from Germania. He is known for his strength and skill in the arena. With a muscular build and a scarred face, Atretes embodies the image of a battle-hardened warrior.

Rizpah: Rizpah is a young widow who is forced into slavery after the death of her husband. She has a petite frame and delicate features, but her eyes reflect a deep strength and resilience.

Caleb: Caleb is a Roman soldier and a friend of Atretes. He is a loyal and compassionate man, always looking out for his comrades. Caleb has a tall and lean figure, with a kind face and a warm smile.

Marcellus: Marcellus is a Roman senator who becomes an influential figure in Atretes' life. He is a wise and well-respected man with graying hair and a dignified presence.

Julia: Julia is Marcellus' daughter and a close friend of Rizpah. She is a beautiful young woman with flowing brown hair and a gentle demeanor. Julia is known for her compassionate nature and her desire to help those in need.

Hadassah: Hadassah is a Christian slave who befriends Rizpah. She has a serene and peaceful aura, with kind eyes and a radiant smile. Hadassah's petite frame belies her inner strength and unwavering faith.

Character Traits

Atretes: Atretes is characterized by his physical prowess, determination, and fierce loyalty. He is a warrior at heart, but also possesses a deep sense of honor and justice. Despite his tough exterior, Atretes is also capable of tenderness and compassion.

Rizpah: Rizpah embodies resilience, strength, and unwavering faith. Despite the hardships she endures, Rizpah remains steadfast and determined. She is compassionate and caring, always putting others before herself.

Caleb: Caleb is characterized by his loyalty, kindness, and bravery. He is a trusted friend to Atretes and provides valuable support throughout their journey. Caleb is also known for his sense of justice and his willingness to stand up for what is right.

Marcellus: Marcellus is wise, influential, and compassionate. He plays a pivotal role in the lives of both Atretes and Rizpah, offering guidance and support. Marcellus is known for his integrity and his commitment to justice.

Julia: Julia is characterized by her kindness, empathy, and selflessness. She is a true friend to Rizpah and offers her unwavering support. Julia's gentle nature and desire to make a difference in the world make her a beloved character.

Hadassah: Hadassah is defined by her unwavering faith, inner strength, and compassion. Despite being a slave, she remains steadfast in her beliefs and serves as a source of inspiration for those around her. Hadassah's love and forgiveness shine through even in the darkest of times.

Character Background

Atretes: Atretes hails from Germania and grew up in a small village. He was trained as a gladiator and became known for his skill and ferocity in the arena. After being captured during a battle, Atretes is taken to Rome, where his life takes an unexpected turn.

Rizpah: Rizpah is a Jewish woman who marries a kind and loving man. However, her life takes a tragic turn when her husband dies, leaving her a widow. Rizpah is then sold into slavery, where she meets Atretes and embarks on a journey that will change her life.

Caleb: Caleb is a Roman soldier who befriends Atretes during their time in the army. He is a loyal and compassionate man, dedicated to serving his country and protecting his friends. Caleb's background is not extensively explored in the book, but his actions and character traits speak volumes.

Marcellus: Marcellus comes from a wealthy and influential Roman family. He is a respected senator known for his wisdom and compassion. Marcellus plays a significant role in the lives of Atretes and Rizpah, offering them guidance and support.

Julia: Julia is the daughter of Marcellus and grows up in a privileged household. Despite her privileged upbringing, Julia is compassionate and caring, always seeking to make a positive impact on those around her. Her background as a senator's daughter gives her a unique perspective on societal issues.

Hadassah: Hadassah was born into slavery and has known nothing but hardship throughout her life. Despite her circumstances, she remains faithful and serves as a beacon of hope for those around her. Hadassah's background as a Christian slave gives her a unique perspective on faith and resilience.

Character Arcs

Atretes: Atretes undergoes a significant character arc throughout the book. Initially fueled by anger and a desire for revenge, Atretes learns to let go of his past and embrace a life of forgiveness and love. He discovers the power of faith and finds redemption through his newfound beliefs.

Rizpah: Rizpah also experiences a transformative character arc. Initially broken and filled with grief, Rizpah finds strength and purpose in her friendship with Atretes and her unwavering faith. She learns to overcome her past and finds healing through forgiveness and love.

Caleb: While Caleb's character arc is not as pronounced as Atretes and Rizpah, he serves as a steady and supportive presence throughout the story. Caleb remains loyal to his friends and plays an instrumental role in their transformation and growth.

Marcellus: Marcellus goes through a subtle character arc as well. He learns valuable lessons about compassion, forgiveness, and the true meaning of power. Marcellus evolves from a respected senator to a wise mentor and advocate for justice.

Julia: Julia's character arc revolves around her growth in empathy and understanding. Through her friendship with Rizpah, Julia learns to see beyond societal norms and prejudices. She becomes an advocate for the marginalized and finds her voice in the pursuit of justice.

Hadassah: Hadassah's character arc is one of unwavering faith and resilience. Despite the hardships she faces, Hadassah remains steadfast in her beliefs and serves as a source of inspiration for those around her. Her unwavering faith leads her to find peace and purpose.


Atretes and Rizpah: Atretes and Rizpah form a deep bond throughout their shared experiences. Their friendship evolves into a romantic relationship built on trust, mutual respect, and a shared faith. Together, they support and uplift each other, overcoming the challenges they face.

Caleb and Atretes: Caleb and Atretes share a strong friendship forged during their time in the army. Caleb stands by Atretes' side, providing unwavering support and guidance. Their friendship is characterized by loyalty, trust, and a shared sense of brotherhood.

Marcellus and Atretes: Marcellus becomes a mentor figure to Atretes, guiding him on a path of redemption and faith. Marcellus offers Atretes a chance at a new life and becomes a father figure to him. Their relationship is built on trust, respect, and a shared belief in second chances.

Rizpah and Julia: Rizpah and Julia develop a deep friendship based on shared experiences and a desire to make a difference in the world. They support each other through their individual journeys, offering strength and guidance.

Hadassah and Atretes: Hadassah's unwavering faith and kindness have a profound impact on Atretes. Her love and forgiveness help him find healing and redemption. Their relationship is characterized by a deep spiritual connection and a shared belief in the power of grace.

In conclusion, "As Sure as the Dawn" by Francine Rivers features a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique traits, backgrounds, and relationships. Through their individual journeys and transformative character arcs, these characters explore themes of faith, love, forgiveness, and redemption. Their relationships deepen the emotional impact of the story, providing support and growth for each character.