Duncan's War follows the lives of Duncan M'Kethe, his family, and his friends as they endure persecution from the Church of England in 17th century Scotland. Living with his family in the hills, fourteen-year-old Duncan is aware of the persecution of Covenanters like himself, but his greatest trouble is from having whacked himself in the face with a stick while play-acting. When the boy and his father join a defensive army and fight with the English soldiers that have been slaughtering the Covenanters, however, Duncan learns how real the persecution is and that war is tragic, not glorious.
All of the main characters strive to act in God's will, and much of the book is about Duncan learning how to apply the words of the Bible to his life. Humility, selfless service, love for enemies, trust in God, and respect for human life are all highly valued.
Duncan's family and friends are strong Christians and they have frequent conversations in which they discuss their faith and how it applies to daily life and decisions.
The book briefly and delicately describes a torture device and a few hangings. Severed heads are placed on the gate to the town. There are a few battles in which people die, naturally; the battles themselves are not graphically described. There is one short skirmish that is described in more detail, but no one is seriously hurt. Two men are threatened with being roasted alive. Several people are kicked by soldiers. It is stated many times that people are shot or hung. A beloved pet is shot. Duncan shoots a gun into the air, threatens a soldier with a sword, knocks a soldier down, and is playfully threatened with a bow by his three-year-old brother.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Some soldiers are said to be drunk and a few people are called drunkards. Their foolish behavior or inability to fight as a result is commented on.
A husband and wife embrace. Duncan and his father both kiss Duncan's mother on the cheek.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
The characters use the word "hell" several times to describe things, for example, "They're coming on like hell kites!" - an archaic term for an actively wicked person. Someone calls a particular dragoon a "devil". A couple of times it is said that people curse, but their words are not written. Several times people call other people names, but nothing vulgar or profane.
Duncan's War is an interesting read with amusing and true-to-life characters, well-documented historical events, thought-provoking and inspiring conversations, and a solidly Biblical worldview. Because of the violence, I would exercise caution in giving this book to children younger than thirteen, though it would make a great family read-aloud. The fascinating plot and outstanding morals alone make it well worth reading.