To Have And To Hold

Our rating: ****

Captain Ralph Percy of Colonial Jamestown has been a soldier and bachelor for many, many years. At the urging of his friend, John Rolfe, he decides to consider the idea of marriage, provided God directs him that way. God does so and Capt. Percy marries a beautiful, yet mysterious newcomer to the colony. Little does he know that she has fled to the New World to escape a forced marriage and that trouble will pursue her across the sea. With Indians turning on the settlers, an angry king in England, and a cold, distant wife, Ralph must seriously consider the vow he made, and at all odds, protect the lady he has promised to have and to hold.

This is one of those “hard to put in a nutshell” books. The plot is so well executed, with so many twist and turns, the poor reviewer has to stick to the bare bones and leave the rest to the reader’s imagination. I, for one, found this Vision Forum revision to be well worth reading. It has action, adventure, a little intrigue, a nice kind of romance, and above all a focus on God that is truly refreshing. For more sensitive readers, be aware that they do mention some unpleasant things about how the Indians occasionally kill their victims. But be encouraged that I, the easy to be upset one, made it through. It’s handled very tactfully.

Charlie’s Raven

Our rating: ***½

Charlie loves to spend time with his naturalist grandfather. But his grandfather, now handicapped, is ailing, and Charlie is desperate to find something that will make Grandfather better. He remembers an old Indian tale about ravens being healing birds and decides to catch a raven chick. The young raven soon becomes part of the family, providing Grandfather and Charlie plenty to study and enjoy.

This is a great book for learning more about ravens—the different calls they use, various odd behaviors, their body language, and so on. The story is well written and engaging, to say the least. (I sat on the floor by the bookshelf and read the first half without getting up!) The only problem is that Indian myths and mysticism are predominant. Now, ravens being healing birds is shown to not be accurate, but there are still multiple references to ravens having supernatural powers. Charlie’s good friend Singing Bird is an Indian, and her family likes to demonstrate the old ways so people can see what they were like. I just wish they would differentiate a little more between showing what it was like and actually believing it. Enjoy with care.

Madeleine Takes Command

Our rating: ***½

Madeleine and her two brothers, Louis and Alexandre, are the only members of the Vecheres family in their seigneury. Their father is away fighting and their mother has just left on a business trip, leaving Madeleine in charge. Soon after, the fort is attacked by Mohawks. Madeleine must defend the fort with only six others, two of which cannot be trusted to hold their posts.

This book is set during the French and Indian war. It is based on a real event, as described in the epilogue. I found it to be a good story and true to historical details. Madeleine Take Command is definitely worthy of your time.

True to the Old Flag

Our rating: *½

At the start of the American Revolutionary War, young Harold joins the British side with his father. He becomes a talented scout, helps win several battles, has narrow escapes from the enemy, and manages to be around for almost every part of the war.

Here’s a book that is remarkably interesting for the fact that it is about the British side of the American Revolution. The battles are done well, at points Henty even has me (an American) rooting for the British. And yet, for some reason, the story keeps getting sidetracked into Indian fights. About seven long chapters in the book are solely about Harold and his friends fighting Indians. Even though the main story is good, it is rather annoying to have the war grind to a halt so that Harold can rescue his cousin from Indians. However, hearing the British side of the story makes the book worth reading anyway.

The Forest Runners

Our rating: ****

Henry Ware and his friend Paul Cotter from Wareville are delivering some gunpowder to a settlement called Marlowe. On the way, Paul is captured by Shawnee Indians and then rescued by Henry. Henry and Paul are followed by the Shawnee Indians to an abandoned house. They escape from the Indians and meet up with some of their friends.

This book is one of the better ones of Joseph Altsheler’s books. The Forest Runners moves quickly for most of the book.