A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Although much written about the early dark ages must be conjecture, Moran has done extensive research that reveals much about day to day life in the seventh century and readers will learn much about the time and the spread of Christianity.
Positive messages of using your gifts for good, improving the world around you, appreciating the love of friends and family, and exercising forgiveness.
Positive Role Models
Although Essa believes he was abandoned by his father and lost his mother, he blossoms in his foster family and shows a resilient spirit as he grows into a brave young man, loyal to his friends, gentle, and compassionate. He risks his life in an attempt to prevent further war and bloodshed, but courageously enters battle when necessary to protect his village and loved ones. His best friend, Lark, is a brave and independent girl and some village leaders are women.
Violence & Scariness
At the age of 12 Essa kills a man in self-defense; a king known as Mad Dog has his teen son execute and behead some prisoners; villages are burned in battle; brief battle scenes; women and older children battle as archers; sword fighting.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Essa kisses his first love. A reference is made to intercourse as man putting his seed into the woman when a married couple spend their first night together.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this coming of age story set in the dark ages has moments of gory violence but it never feels gratuitous. This is historic fiction at a very high level that gives a marvelous introduction to the rise of Christianity, the pagans' reaction to the notion of one God, and daily life in the dark ages. Also, the resilient and admirable main character also has the ability to share the consciousness of animals and to communicate with them telepathically.
Is It Any Good?
Detailed research and beautiful writing results in a book that submerges readers in another world and time, dangerous, romantic, and thrilling.
Universal aspects of growing up, rebellion, and tradition infused with details of everyday life intertwine in an epic tale of life in the dark ages. The range of tribes and peoples across what we now know as Great Britain can be confusing at times, but a fast pace and surprising plot twists carry the story.
The idea of Christianity as a new way of life, replacing old gods and winning converts by force, is compellingly told. Readers will root for Essa. He is an Everyman who embodies a noble spirit and his story is unforgettable. Teens will enjoy this as an epic adventure even if they normally won't touch historic fiction. Historical notes included at the end.
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