I was given the opportunity to do another review for a free copy of a book, this time for the Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart blog tour. This is too much fun! I feel like a real writer, doing all these reviews. ;-)
Four or five years ago, I borrowed and read the first three books of Chuck Black’s Kingdom series. While the writing was not great, the storytelling swept me away, and the pictures of Biblical truths had me eagerly rereading Scripture to savor the source of the echoes. Each book ended with the piano music to a haunting (but not too difficult) song, which I simply loved.
Chuck Black has been off my radar for a few years, but recently I discovered he’s still writing books set in the world of Arrethtrae, and I suddenly found the third of his second series in my hands. I usually refuse to start in the middle of a series, but I couldn’t find copies of the first two in time and had to just jump in. And in The Knights of Arrethtrae series, each book focuses on different characters, making them more episodic than epic. There’s an epic level, of course, but it’s explained in the first few pages.
Sir Dalton’s story was a decent kids' adventure, an allegory full of medieval motifs like swords and knights and battle. The main character learned some important things about being a Knight of the King, and there were some great pictures of spiritual principles about doubt, faith, friendship, and freedom.
Most of the time I felt it was a bit too heavy-handed on the allegory to get let readers fully immerse themselves in the story, but when I did get lost in it, it was wonderful. While allegory is not my favorite form of story, I don’t think it's evil. Sometimes formulas and direct correlations are helpful, sometimes they are just dry and distracting.
For a fairly short, kid-friendly book, Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart was a thoughtful look at doubt in the life of Christians and how to combat it by knowing Christ and His Word well. For timeless, better-written (but more challenging) allegory, find Pilgrim’s Regress or The Faerie Queene.