Blue Lights

by R. M. Ballantyne
397 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Nienna

Interesting historical and morally sound read, but has some violent content.


Nineteen-year-old Miles Martin storms out of his English house in anger and is swept away into an adventure such as he could never have imagined. He joins the army as a private, meets the religious "Blue Lights," and is shipped with his companions to Egypt. Here Miles grows closer to God and his companions, fights the enemy, endures the horrendous climate, and is captured by the vicious Arabs.


Very good. Honesty, respect for human life, adherence to duty, courage, selflessness, and loyalty are all highly valued. The main girl character does say that one can't help who one loves, though, which is a clearly unbiblical belief.

Spiritual Content

Miles is a Christian, as are most of his companions, and others come to Christ in the course of the story. The Bible is often mentioned, God even more so, and Miles grows in his faith through the story.


Miles throws whitewash in a man's face because the guy was chasing him. Hundreds of soldiers and sailors die by wounds or illness. A man and a girl are attacked by wild dogs, and one of the dogs is killed. Some people are blown up by mines. There is a mention of the remains from a battle, limbs strewn over the ground and picked at by carrion. The main characters are beaten multiple times, though not severely, and one of them is hung four times (each time cut down before he dies). Two main characters are severely wounded and each have a limb amputated. A man throws a horse and its rider to the ground. None of it is graphic.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine and beer are frequently drunk, by many to an excess, but the "Blue Lights" are for total abstinence and this is one of the main themes of the book.

Sexual Content

A husband and wife kiss and there is a small romance between Miles and a young lady, but nothing inappropriate.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

It is mentioned once or twice that a soldier cursed, but the words are not stated and it is shown as a bad thing. A soldier calls the Arabs "baboons" and other such names, but nothing inappropriate.


I was very impressed by the many moral lessons learned in this book and the amount of Christianity - especially the theme that when in time of trouble, the characters get their strength from God. It is also historically sound, with many, many of the remarkable incidents having been related to Ballantyne by eye-witnesses. There is a lot of violence because it is about a war, but it is delicately handled and most of the men have a good view on war in general (killing to save lives, not just to take them). Miles is an excellent main character because he is nowhere near perfect but he is convicted about his sinful nature and grows throughout the story. Blue Lights is well-written, frequently amusing and often touching, so with the exception of the unbiblical view of love, I highly recommend it to teens and older.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 13+

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