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. 🙂

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Brisingr By: Christopher Paolini


Brisingr

Just so we’re not confused: We are posting another point of view on Brisingr by another reviewer for more perspective. MTG

Christopher Paolini’s Brisingr is the third book of four in the Inheritance series, and I read it because I had already trudged through the first two books and wanted to know where the epic-length tale was headed. The reason I had first delved into his series was simply out of curiosity; I mean, who wouldn’t want to read a story about a boy and his dragon, right? And after the reviewing world hailed the series a masterpiece, I thought I should see what all the hype was about.

Brisingr (the word for “fire” in the ancient language) begins with Eragon, the last of the free dragon riders, who seeks the destruction of the evil beings who wreaked havoc on his family. He continues seeking for truth: truth about his life, role, and beliefs. He still grapples with his role in the destruction of the evil ruler, a Sauron-like character, who fell from his place as dragon rider years earlier.

Christopher Paolini grew up in Montana and graduated from high school at the age of fifteen. At the age of nineteen he published his first bestseller, Eragon (which also became a movie shortly thereafter). I was skeptical of this new writer at first, thinking that the only reason for his book’s popularity was because of the author’s demographics.

Paolini uses the English language masterfully (and even some of his created Elvish and Dwarvish languages), and I especially enjoyed his employment of new and exciting vocabulary words. His fresh ideas on fantasy bring to life his story; he does his best to avoid the hackneyed fantasy plots where the good guy always defeats the bad guy, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after. He also does a very good job of creating characters who act consistently throughout the plot without being too predictable.

The book’s jacket notes some praise for Paolini’s series: U.S. News & World Report says that Brisingr is “the new ‘It’ book of children’s lit.” I would contend that this statement is indeed far from truth. Objectionable elements crop up throughout the entire seven-hundred-page book. The gore factor in this book has been elevated much from the first two; the author goes into great detail of the manners in which the men die. Foul language is also scattered here and there. Paolini occasionally uses the words in a correct sense, but a majority of the time he uses the words simply as profanity. He has also skillfully woven in philosophical and religious tones. In one situation, a pagan god appears to the dwarves and blesses them. At another time, Eragon wonders if the atheism of the elves is the right way to believe. The book seems ambivalent on the issues and lends itself to further study. I would not recommend this book to children or young adults, who are yet forming their world views, and I think that those who commit to reading this series (this book especially) should do so with caution.

Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer


Twilight

Since everyone is talking about the new movie Twilight that just came out, I decided I wanted to read the book. With minimal knowledge about the story, I borrowed the book.

The Summary: Twilight is about a high school girl named Bella who chooses to go live with her father in a place called Forks, Washington. It is here that she meets the Cullen family who has a very dark secret. She is immediately drawn to Edward Cullen. After a sudden whirlwind romance, Bella discovers that Edward is not just any high school boy. Instead he is a vampire. Basically the story weaves in the idea of an immortal and mortal having a relationship.

Author Background: The background of the author can sometimes give insight to the underlying themes within the author’s work. Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon who graduated from Brigham Young University (BYU). She does not believe in pre-marital sex, but does not oppose objectionable elements or themes.

Positive: Actually the story contains very little positives unless one would like to view the “good” vampires as a positive. And even in the story the “good” vampires struggle with human blood lust.

Negative: First of all, the concept of vampires is associated with the demonic world. The author hints at this early on in her work. Except she leaves the reader feeling that her vampires are not demonic so it is acceptable. With this aside, the story is all about teen romance, passion, and lust. The story portrays the vampire Edward’s lust as lust for Bella’s blood, but the reader can draw more from this by the actions depicted by the author. The story has multiple suggestive scenes and uses some language. In addition the main character lies throughout the entire book, but claims to despise lying. Bella continually refers to Edward as god-like. This philosophy is acceptable within the Mormon circle, but is doctrinally incorrect. And last but not least, the quality of writing is extremely poor. Many will overlook the writing, because of the storyline and characters.

Conclusion: I do not recommend this book or movie. It is certain to capture the interest of anyone who picks it up, including people lacking the ability to filter out the philosophies within the work.

A Roving Commission by G. A. Henty


A Roving Commission

Plot: Our hero’s story begins several months before the insurrection on the island of Hayti, on a ship anchored in Hayti. Nathaniel, known to all as Nat, because he dislikes his full name, goes ashore to see the town. In the course of the visiting the town, he rides out into the countryside. Several miles from the town, Nat hears a scream and cries for help, jumping from his mount he runs to the voice. Nat sees a large dog mauling a young girl, without a thought, he jumps at it and after a short brawl, kills it with his sailor’s dirk. The girl’s parents take Nat into their home while he recovers from his large injuries.

After a month or so with the small family, Nat returns to his ship.

Aboard with his shipmates once more, Nat sets out on another adventure, this one including pirates. The captain informs Nat that they have orders to sail around the islands, and see if any pirates are about.

Thanks to Nat’s keen eyesight, the ship notices a pirate hold deep within an island. They attack this and capture the entire hold. Unexpectedly, among their plunder, are about two hundred slaves. These they feed and cloth properly; following a sharp fight with the surviving pirates and islanders, the ship sails home with the freed slaves and other cargo.

Relieving themselves of the slaves, and leaving them to others care, Nat’s ship sets out once more to survey the various islands for pirates. Once more, thanks to Nat’s keen eyesight, they discover a small pirate hold hidden well on an island. Finding the opening small and well guarded, the captain sends a small force ashore to take down the guards so the ship could sail through cleanly. Nat goes with the small party, and they take down the pirate guards before they know what hit them. A short, intense fight ensues, killing all the pirates and giving the sailors great plunder from a large warehouse.

The ship returns victorious to their harbor and unloads its precious cargo. The captain rewards Nat’s outstanding bravery from the last battle, with leave for a few days to visit the family whose daughter he had saved. He is there few days before the slaves around the island revolt against the white rule. Providentially, Nat, the girl he saved, and her mother, are warned in time and are able to leave the house before the slaves come to kill them and burn the house. Now, on the run for their lives, Nat must protect the woman and find a way back to the town.

Positive: Our hero, Nat, is full of honor, courage and good brains (excuse the expression) as always. Something that is lacking in many of our hero’s in modern day books, especially the good brains part.

The battles are well written and engaging, a very big plus for me.

Mr. Henty does an excellent job of portraying the events of the black insurrection of Hayti. He draws you into the historical event with the story, with our’s hero help of course.

Negative: I cannot say many negatives about this book, in fact I cannot think of one!

Overall: The books that Mr. Henty writes are what first drew me to history, aside from my natural wish to learn more of it, he made me find it fascinating. Mr. Henty does a wonderful job keeping your nose in the book and interested in our hero’s tale, yet, at the same time, filling the reader’s mind with history.

I highly recommend this book to people of all ages; it is well written and finely told.