© 2010 Multnomah Books, Colorado Springs
Chuck Black is a former F-16 fighter pilot and tactical communications engineer. He now writes young adult fiction. Sir Quinlan is the fifth in his The Knights of Arrethtrae series (which is the second series dealing with “The Kingdom Across the Sea” featuring the King and the Prince). This is my first encounter with the stories, and I must say that I am well pleased.
In this adventure, the title character moves from being the unassuming—even cowering—Knight of the Prince called Twitch to leading the elite group of Knights known as the Swords of Valor. He deals with apathy, distraction, and failure in his quest to become the Knight of the Prince that he wants to be.
While this is one in a series of stories, the adventure—like all good series adventure stories—could stand on its own. The author includes enough of the background story to understand its connection with previous installments, but weaves a tale that could stand on its own and engage most young men who love adventure stories (and not a few young women).
The story itself (and I’ll assume both of Black’s series) is a rather thinly veiled allegory of the gospel message of Christianity. For the reader coming from the background of the Christian faith the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Prince takes no effort. Other readers would have no trouble enjoying the story, and this book (along with its sisters) might be an excellent starting place for a young person to talk to friends about matters of faith—or for parents to talk with their pre-teens and teens about them as well.
One drawback in the book is the use of ancient languages and cryptic abbreviations to point to specific allegorical references. For example, the abbreviated names “Disty” (for distractions) and “Bli” (short for blindness) in reference to the cute creatures used by the forces of the Dark Knight to create apathy among the Knights of the Prince; and the name of the creature that represents passion—penthomoth—whose name is taken from the Greek word pentho which means “passion.” To discover these cryptic references one must read the study questions and answers located at the end of the book.
The story itself is well-written and has the ability to stand on its own without the extra study helps that have become popular in the publishing world today. A simple footnote concerning the above mentioned references would be sufficient for the inquisitive reader.
Finally, I should mention that included (along with the study questions) are a couple of artist’s renderings of the unfamiliar creatures encountered in the book and a musical score for a song that relates to the Swords of Valor (“Ride of the Valiant” by Emily Elizabeth Black) as a sort of postlude to the story.
Lovers of swordplay and knightly quest/adventure will love this story as much as I did. In fact, I may look for the previous stories about Arrethtrae just to go on more adventures with the Knights of the Prince. Four out of five reading glasses.
—Benjamin Potter, May 4, 2011
[Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.]