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The Red Keep

by Allen French
370 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Lady Meriwen

Thoroughly enjoyable, though with a bit of violence.

Plot

Treacherous robber barons have overthrown the Red Keep and murdered the family of Lady Anne d'Arcy. There's little that the neighboring lords can do - but they've reckoned without the determined spirit of the young Lady Anne herself. With the help of her neighbor Conan, she sets out to recapture the home that is rightfully hers.

Morality

The good guys have honorable motives; the bad guys are devious - and get their comeuppance in the end. One character disguises himself and takes on a false identity, but for a good purpose.

Spiritual Content

The main characters pray to God and submit themselves to His judgment. Two characters fight a duel, believing - as was common in those times - that God will judge between them and cause the victor to win. The only priest present is weak and selfish, but that reflects only on him and not on Christianity as a whole.

Violence

A good deal. Most of it isn't graphically described, though possibly too intense for the age level. There's some hand-to-hand fighting and a duel to the death; a bird pecks at a man, drawing blood, and another man's head is displayed on a spear.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine is present, but no drunkenness.

Sexual Content

One chaste kiss. A man tries to force himself on a woman.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Hell and the Devil are mentioned in their correct sense. There are a few instances of swearing by saints.

Conclusion

Remarkable for its strong writing and intriguing characters, this book held me until the final page. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Conan and Anne: though it wasn't as overtly romantic as some might wish, it was perfectly believable and beautiful throughout. This book is a treat for history buffs, action lovers, or anyone who enjoys a good story.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 11-12

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