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Castles

by Carolyn Ann Aish
Series: The Frencolian Chronicles #2
306 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Nienna

Very good read but contains mildly mature and violent content.

Plot

Fourteen-year-old Jobyna is sister of the new king of Francolia. But the impostor Elliad, who had ruled Frencolia with tyranny and cruelty, has escaped, taking the young girl with him. In the face of cruelty, hate and despair, Jobyna remembers the Gospel Book her parents died to save and her trust in God carries her through the trials, even learning to follow the command to love her enemies. As Jobyna lives, heavily guarded, in a castle far away from her home, sharing her faith even to those who have tortured her, her brother Luke struggles to find a way to rescue her but puts the good of his country first as he travels about the land, sharing the gospel with his people.

Morality

Though Elliad and his men do terrible things, it is all shown as very wicked and Jobyna's morality is very high. The good people are mostly good and the bad people are mostly bad, though they have the ability to repent and change. Jobyna carefully follows the Gospel Book and is always honest and true.

Spiritual Content

The leaders of Frencolia and Jobyna are Christians and other people become so during the story. God is frequently mentioned and Jobyna has a conversation with someone who casually mentions that there could be many gods but Jobyna does not agree.

Violence

Jobyna sees blood in the buildings they stay in and realizes that Elliad had the former occupants killed. Wounded soldiers are "terminated". A murdered child is brought into the room for a moment. It is mentioned that someone had purposefully broken one of Jobyna's fingers before. Jobyna is branded on the arm. Elliad has made and continues to make many murderous raids, never leaving anyone behind to tell the tale. A few women have their tongues cut out though this is told, not shown. Jobyna's parents had been slain and this is discussed. There is a fight in which a hundred men are slain and Jobyna is with one of them when he dies. Jobyna is more than once handled harshly, being half strangled and thrown on the floor. The girl badly twists her knee, giving her problems for weeks. A man is killed by poison. Jobyna has nightmares in which she sees people murdered. A young man is beaten and whipped.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Wine is frequently drunk, sometimes to the state of intoxication, but Jobyna always abstains.

Sexual Content

A man has at least two mistresses (one of whom was married when their relationship began) and at one point, while drunk, he has Jobyna sent to him and he entwines his fingers in her hair and buries his face in it but is called away almost immediately. Another married man is obviously enamored with Jobyna and it is said that were it not for the laws against polygamy he would have married her.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

It is mentioned at one point that two men are "talking about women", presumably in an inappropriate way. There's nothing else that I recall at the moment.

Conclusion

I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Christianity was written into this book. The siblings' relationships with God are very true to our world and I loved how human Jobyna was in that she would sometimes forget to turn her troubles over to the Lord but eventually she would remember and gather her strength from Him. While there is a lot of violence, making this book unsuitable for younger readers, half of it does not take place directly in the book; it is just discussed or evidence of it is shown later. The men's affairs also make this less suited for younger readers, but most of it could easily be skipped if the book were read aloud. The characters relate very realistically with each other and Jobyna sets a good example of trusting in God and allowing His love to work through you. The book is an edifying read.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 11-12

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