Through the Fray, by G.A. Henty

Through the Fray

This particular Henty begins in the early years of our hero, Ned’s, life. We watch him go through school, get in trouble for breaking his nasty teacher’s shoulder (he’s acquitted of punishment for good reasons), cry as his father passes away and meet a young lad who will be his life long friend.

After Ned breaks his nasty teachers shoulder, the man is sent away from cruelty to boys. The new teacher, unlike the other, is kind and firm. He prefers not to beat the boys unless it is absolutely necessary, and obedience out of respect rather than fear. It is to this teacher that Ned depends on for advice and guidance after the passing of his beloved father.

Ned’s father dies saving a young girl from getting run over by a carriage, this event leads to his mothers second marriage less than a year later. The step-father is cruel, but is able to hide it from those he is cozying up to. (Ned hates him)

Because of his cruelty, Ned and him fight every now and again. One time the step-father beats on Ned horribly and then goes off into the night, Ned following half awake to go walk in the country. Ned’s step-father is murdered and Ned is blamed ….will he be able to prove his innocence? You’ll need to read it to find out!

Positive: Though Ned’s mother is unkind to him almost every time they meet, and accuses him of his step fathers murder, refusing to see Ned for over a year. In the end, Ned and his mother are reconciled.

Ned’s father is a strong figure, and this book shows the value of friendship, overcoming fiery tempers, perseverance in the face of great adversity and how you shouldn’t judge too quickly.

Negative: Ned’s mother is a very poor example to her children, and is shown as very lazy, strong-headed and a gossip. Thankfully in the end these unwanted traits, except for her gossiping, reverse themselves.

Overall: Another great G.A. Henty, though our hero does not actually go into the army as is his original wish, he does great good where he is at. I strongly recommend this Henty book. 🙂


The Supernaturalists by Eion Colfer

The Supernaturalists

Cosmo Hill, an boy abandoned and found on the hill he is named after. Quite the boy, in this futuristic world, Cosmo is subject whatever the boys home people do to him, simply because he is a no-sponsor. (a.k.a no friends/relatives to pay for his upkeep) To feed all these no-sponsor orphans, the orphanage allows various companies to perform chemical tests on the boys. Of course because of all this chemical stuff flowing through them, and the processed foods they get, the longest life anyone has is fifteen. Cosmo is fourteen and dreams of escape.

His chance comes when he is out with other orphans listening to music and their car crashes. Redwood, a very bad guy, tries to wrap Cosmo and his friend, Ziiplock, in the rib-breaking material for Ziplock’s smart comments. They escape, but in the process Ziplock dies and Cosmo gets very hurt.

A threesome group of Supernaturalists, teens hunting Parasites, invisible blue creatures who are believed to suck the life out of hurting people, find Cosmo. Cosmo learns that he too can see these Parasites, because of his near death experience, and so with his three new friends, embarks on a mission to kill the blue buggers before they kill them.

Negative: Not much, one of the bad guys is really mean, but he gets his just desserts. People get wrapped in stuff that breaks ribs and an orphanage mistreats all its occupants.

Overall: A good book, not quite the genius Artemis Fowl, (a series by Eion Colfer) but I enjoyed it. 🙂 Unfortunately my one of favorite character died, but be assured it wasn’t the main character. 🙂 If you’re looking for enjoyable mental junk food, with plenty of plot twists, this is it.

Maori and the Settler by G. A. Henty

The Shining Sword

(Another G.A. Henty I know, but I like his books, what can I say.)
Unlike most other Henty books, Maori and the Settler does not contain lots of battles and hardships for our hero to go through. Instead, Wilfred’s story, our hero, begins at his home in England.

Wilfred’s father is not an ambitious man, and spends his time studying to write books, thus forcing the house and business management on Wilfred and his mother. Because of strikes and riots, Wilfred’s family goes bankrupt with only the mother’s dowry to their name, and are thus obliged to leave their home in search of less expensive living.

Hearing of the good settling opportunities in New Zealand, they convince their father to move there. Most of the book revolves around their voyage there, the friends they meet, and the change in character several people have. Including the father, who realizes that he does not really know his family, and stops studying to spend more time with them.

A few dangerous moments occur aboard the ship they travel on, but nothing our hero and his friends cannot handle.

They reach New Zealand in one piece, and find a comfortable place to call home. Which they dub “The Glade.” Things to go smoothly, except for some Indian massacres they hear of, and the rumor that war might come their way. There is much more to tell, but I cannot without spoiling the end.

My overall reaction to the book was positive. I was surprised our hero was not as involved in wars and skirmishes, though he had his fair share. This book differs much from what I general read in Henty books, yet I really did enjoy the way Henty described the way of life a settler might have lived were he forced from England to New Zealand. It was informative and interesting, well worth the read.

The Shining Sword by Charles G. Coleman

The Shining Sword

The Shining Sword is an analogy of the armor of G-d. The author uses fictional characters and a season in their lives to show how she believes the armor of G-d is portrayed in the Bible. (I consider it accurate)

Lanus is our main character and he is very lazy. His favorite activities include wrestling and sleeping in the grass. He works only when he absolutely has to, and looks to the villagers for free meals here and there. He does not sound like much of a hero does it. No, and that disturbed me at first, that the author chose such a character for her hero, but it soon became clear that Lanus’s character was soon to get a wake-up call.

As Lanus is leisurely lying in the grass on a hill, he sees a familiar figure approaching, who turns out to be a friend that disappeared a year ago. Robin, the friend, tells Lanus of his life as a solider of the King, and that he came to invite him to visit the King’s home beyond the little valley where Lanus lives, and to become a soldier of the King.

Lanus agrees to visit, and is impressed with the work and lifestyle Robin and his comrades live in, yet the work part is still a bit bothersome to him. So instead of staying he goes back to the village. Yet instead of staying, you guessed it, he decides to return and become a soldier of the King, and face the enemy (the devil). From there we watch Lanus grow, fall and get back up again and learn proper use of the armor of the King. (G-d)

I must admit I considered this book a bit of a bore for the first 10 or 15 pages, the way the author began things was a little tedious and not very catching. However, I persevered because a friend lent it to me and I told him I would read it. After those first few pages, it began to pick up speed. It never reached 90 miles per hour, but it did end up keeping my interest and finishing out as a book worth reading. (198 pages at most)

If you end up reading this book, let me know what you think about the way the author portrays the armor of G-d. I liked it and thought it a good reminder.

Eagle Strike by, Anthony Horowitz

Eagle Strike

Plot: As a note, reviews of the first three books have already been written, you may find them in the archives. It will give you background on our character.

Eagle Strike begins where Skeleton Key left off. Alex Rider is now trying, once again, to become a normal schoolboy.

He almost secedes when he accepts a friend’s invitation to go on a two week vacation with them. All goes well, until Alex sees the assassin that killed his uncle, Ian Rider.

His friend’s father is almost killed in an explosion in their rental home, the police say it was a leaking pipe, but Alex knows it was no accident, and sets out to find out to kill the man who set the bomb. Thinking it was set to kill him instead. He finds and follows the man until caught, and is forced to participate in a bull fight. His choice was fight the bull or be shot, he chose the former.

He of course lives, and continues back home while his friend stays with her father in the hospital. Back in Brittan, Alex suspects a multimillionaire of evil intentions and bring it to the MI6’s attention. They do not believe him, considering the man’s reputation for good, so it is up to Alex to discover the truth behind the mask.

Negative: From what I recall, there is nothing terribly negative, there is implied swearing, but the word is never actually said. Some people are killed, a man drowned in coins, our hero is forced to go through a rigged obstacle course. Nothing graphic, but certainly not for the very young. (below age 10)

Overall: Overall, rating this book from 1 to 10, ten being highest, I would definitely, without a doubt, give this book a 10. 🙂 I thoroughly enjoyed it from beginning to end, a thriller of a book, I hope you have time to get your hands on this and the three before it. (and the others after Eagle Strike, in the Alex Rider series)

Mystery of the Roman Ransom by Henry Winterfield

Mystery of the Roman Ransom

Plot: To give you a bit of background on the author. Henry Winterfeld began writing for children in 1933, when he wrote Trouble at Timpetill to entertain his son, who was sick with scarlet fever. He went on to write a number of books which have been published around the world.

This book begins with a class of boys presenting a slave to their school teacher for his fiftieth birthday. After letting the boys know in no uncertain terms that he has no desire for a slave, and that he is not fifty but seventy-two, Master Xanthos orders them to return the slave to the seller.

The boys attempt to do so, but find that the seller has fled town after being threatened for selling this slave.

Unhappy at their new circumstance, the boys make their way back to their school master. However, on the way they are attacked by an old, one eyed, gladiator who wants to take Udo, the slave. The boys manage to escape the Roman market place, after pouring a pot of honey on the man’s head.

Later they find that the slave was carrying a message to an unknown man, this message contained the name of a famous Roman senator who they plan to murder. This senator turns out to be one of the boys fathers, the race is on the figure out whose father, and change his fate before it is too late.

Negative: No swearing that I can recall, a bit of fighting, but nothing that produces blood. A man threatens the life of a boy, and a boy pours a pot of honey over bad guys head. Nothing serious

Overall: I loved this book, it was so funny! I read the first and it was equally funny. I recommend this to all with no reserves, Henry Winterfeld knows how to write a good and funny mystery.

Won By the Sword by G. A. Henty

Won by the Sword

Plot: Won by the Sword is set in the 17th century. The French at that time were in the midst of what would turn out to be a thirty years war.
We meet our hero, Hector Campbell, in 1639, the war has already been raging for twenty-some-odd years by that time. Found by General Turrene practicing play-war against a city, Hector talks some time with him before finding that the gentlemen he is speaking with is General Turrene himself. Turrene takes a liking to Hector and soon has him on as his personal messenger.

The thirty years war began mostly due to the different nobles of France warring for more power, and a stronger hold on the French throne. At that time the Italian bishop, Richelieu, held great power over the throne, mostly due to his friendship with the king. A man of intelligence and power, Richelieu did his best to unite France during his life time with the king.

Not far into our story Richelieu, and the king, die of illness. The king’s young son is then crowned king, but the throne is in control of his mother until he comes of age. Succeeding Richelieu is Mazerin, another Italian bishop who is also in great power, though he was not greatly admired by the king, he learned well from Richelieu and is held in favor by the queen.

General Enghien is also under Frances’s service at this time, and is equal in brilliance in strategy to Turrene, though Turrene is more cautious while Enghien is less concerned with how many men are lost. Both are equally brave, and both take a liking to Hector, who serves under the two.
Battles are won on either side, the French and Austrian, (both countries have other countries aiding them) but nothing happens that truly sways the victory rod in either direction.

This Henty book contains much of the history of France, yet is combined with Hector’s own adventures, which are many. We see the war through Hector’s eyes, and are very happy for it, as it’s a fun nose-in-the-pages book.

Negative: The war chapters do not go into great detail of how men die and are very mild. Other than a duel, an alley fight and a brush with robbers in an inn, there is little negative content.

Overall: This was a very good Henty book, not his most exciting, but it was not dry and dull. I do recommend this book, as it is chock full of good history, and is rather a fun read. (And, as usual, our hero is ever brave and honorable.)