Friday 16 January 2009

Duncan's War

I don't tend to review children's books, leaving that safely in Lorna's hands. However I picked this book up as she was badgering me to have a look at it to decide whether to stock it or not. It is Christian fiction, the first book in a 3 part series on the Covenanting times in late C17th Scotland, aimed at age 11+. The author is Douglas Bond, who is a history teacher in the USA, and it is published by P & R for £7.95. I'm afraid my initial reaction was along the lines of 'hmm, another romanticised American take on British history...and trying to represent Scots accent within the dialogue as chance!' But my scepticism was largely overcome when I got down and read it. I started halfway through an evening and didn't put it down until around midnight. Yes, it was gripping stuff. The history is woven in a reasonably unforced manner into the tale, which is quite difficult when you consider the complexity of it - rights and wrongs, 'goodies' and 'baddies' are not always clear cut. There is colour in this book, the character, beliefs and practices of the Covenanters are brought out, but also the struggle within the hero himself between external religion/culture and personal faith. A good theme is stressed - the biggest battles are within. I particularly appreciated the quotes that pop up from Samuel Rutherford, which give young people a little taster of his sublime writings. All in all, it might be one for the boys rather than the girls - plenty of action and warfare etc, but I wouldn't want to get into hot water over labelling it in this way. Recommended.

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