The Soldier's Cross

I enjoy reading good reviews for books, because it helps give me an idea of any book that I may be interested in, but unsure of its content, or it might introduce me to some great read that I never would have found otherwise. My parents have always encouraged me in my love of reading, especially my dad from whom my sister Sarah and I most probably got our avid love of reading, books and anything bookish or literary! My parents particularly encourage my sisters and me in reading spiritual and devotional Christian books for our spiritual growth and edification, and here at home, there is never a lack of such inspirational books. These have been a great spiritual blessing to our lives as a family. Also, biographies of Christians who lived in the past are a family favourite of ours. When we were younger, Dad used to read to us every night from the lives of godly men and women of God throughout history, and oh! How these accounts inspired my life and faith.  However, when it comes to fiction, our family often found it a lot harder to find inspirational literature that would be enjoyable and captivating and yet wholesome and edifying. Of course that can be somewhat of an annoyance, because reading is an important source of learning and developing writing skills. There are some really great Christian novels out there though, and if you dig deep and carefully, you can find some amazing literature. That's why, I was so happy to come across this book, The Soldier's Cross. Here is my review:

Title: the Soldier's Cross
Author: Abigail J. Hartman
Published: October 29, 2010 by Ambassador International.
Available from: Amazon, your local bookstore, or on Miss Hartman's blog, Scribbles and Ink Stains.


Back cover synopsis: A.D. 1415 Fiona's world is a carefully built castle in the air, made up of the fancies, wishes, and memories of her childhood. It begins to crumble as she watches her brother march away to join in the English invasion of France. It falls to pieces when he is brought home dead.

Robbed of the one dearest to her and left alone in the world, Fiona turns to her brother's silver cross in search of the peace he said it would bring. But when she finds it missing, she swears she will have it and sets out on a journey across the Channel and war-ravaged France to regain it and find the peace it carries. 


My thoughts: I just finished reading this book a couple of weeks ago during the holidays, and I really enjoyed it. It is a beautifully crafted novel in every way, inspirational, with captivating, rounded characters, an adventurous and at times sad quest, and a simple, sweet ending that will leave you loving this delightful story, and the characters in it. Leah, Pierre, Fiona, and Fiona's brother were such heart-warming characters, and personally my favourites. One of the things I truly enjoyed about this book, beside the captivating story and the historical times it was set in, was the Christian theme prevailing in the story, being one truly relevant not only to Fiona's life but our own as well, that there can be no 'peace' in life without Christ. When I first read the synopsis of this historical novel on Amazon, I was immediately intrigued and knew I wanted to read it. I think one of the things that caught my interest in this book as well was in the author, Abigail J. Hartman, herself. She is a sweet home-educated Christian young lady living in America, with a love for writing historical and fantasy fiction (my personal favourite genres), who got her first novel, The Soldier's Cross, published when she was only 14 years old. That was enough to get me really interested =D, and I ordered the book, even though I had misgivings on how well-developed her writing would be, preparing myself for glitches common with beginning writers (like me!). But as soon as I started reading, I was well and truly captivated, and forgot all my earlier misgivings. This book is amazingly well-written, and I was quite soon swallowed up into Fiona's world of grief, loneliness and danger, and her desperate (and sometimes foolish) quest to find her brother's cross, and 'the peace it carries'. At times, I got upset at Fiona's foolish choices, but as I read more, I felt compassion for this girl, as she journeyed and struggled for that peace and faith that eluded her. There were places with some tense scenes, but they were matched by more peaceful scenes as well. So, I'd really recommend you read this book, especially if you have a love for historical fiction. I have a feeling you'll love it =D.

Pros: Uhm, the whole book was great. I loved the way Abigail depicted grief and the internal struggles of her characters powerfully and with emotion without making it cliche. Though I haven't done much research into this historical time period, I felt that the dialogue and scenes were really in time with the historical context of the 1400s England and France. Another thing that I truly enjoyed was the kind of romance in the book. I had earlier been worried when I ordered the Soldier's Cross that the whole story would, despite the genre, end up being the typical romance novels you see in bookstores (both Christian and secular), displaying romance as being 'butterflies in your stomach' 'fall in love at first sight' kind of thing, leaving you feeling quite uncomfortable by the end of the story. Well, with The Soldier's Cross, happily it turned to be quite different.  The romance in it was refreshing and felt like real-life situations, beautiful, heart-warming and funny at times, and in accord with the cultural times the story is set in. Abigail did a great job at this I think.


Cons: there were a couple of irksome scenes when Fiona was being stalked and apprehended by an evil character with evil intentions because she was a woman, which while reading made me a little worried of any inappropriate scenes that might come up, but it was okay, and nothing bad actually happened; Abigail wrote those scenes with a great deal of discretion. But still, I wouldn't recommend this book for readers under the age of 12 or 13. Besides that, I can't think of any major cons... =D.


So my overall rating, would be...

Rating: five out of five stars
Age: 13 yrs and up
Book Quotes:
"But He is where you will find the rest and peace you want, my dear. Those things you will only find in Perfection, and that is what He is."
~pg. 234 the Soldier's Cross

"God has arranged strange ways for some of us to find Him. Sometimes He brings us on long physical journeys; sometimes He leaves us at home and makes the journey internal. Yours has been both."
~pg. 286 the Soldier's Cross

P.S. Abigail J. Hartman blogs on "Scribbles and Ink Stains", a lovely writing blog I have enjoyed reading from for some time now, where she shares thoughts on writing, faith and anything literary in general =D. 

Comments

  1. I awarded you on my blog! :)
    http://theendlessroad-elizabeth.blogspot.com/2012/01/i-have-been-awarded.html

    ReplyDelete
  2. Aw, thanks, Elizabeth! That's so nice of you =D
    Blessings,
    ~Joy

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dearest Joy,

    Praying for you sister, and hoping to respond to your email asap :).
    It was good to read a review on this book, thanks for sharing. It certainly is difficult to find literature that is inspiring and very readable but at the same time wholesome and edifying... such books are so rare. This book looks to be numbered among those rare ones! I've been reading one by Isabella Alden at the moment. Have you heard of her? It has been such an encouraging and inspiring read, which also has taught me so much and encouraged my walk with the Lord. I'd love to show it to you at some stage!
    Love,
    Maddy

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dearest Maddy,

    This book is indeed one of those rare few =D, and the author is such a lovely young lady as well, you should read it! I've never heard of author, Isabella Alden, but it sounds like she's really good! What does she mainly write about? I'd love to look more into that sometime and maybe you can tell me more about her Lord willing :).

    Talk to you on Monday Lord willing. Love in Him,
    ~Joy

    ReplyDelete

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