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I tend to be very fussy about historical fiction. It must be historically accurate without getting bogged down in excruciating detail. Furthermore, it needs to be engaging without straying from historical truth. And when it is Christian historical fiction, I am fussier still. I don't want to be preached at, but I do want to see genuine human responses to the Gospel and I must see Biblically-accurate theology. With all this fussiness, is it any wonder that few titles make it through the Timberdoodle screening process? Hostage Lands is one of the few for many excellent reasons.
The main character, 15-year-old Neil, disdains his Latin teacher, yet must rely on her help when he discovers an ancient Latin manuscript buried on his family farm. As he begins to translate this ancient journal, you will find yourself caught up in an electrifying adventure involving Roman centurions and Celtic warriors. This fast-paced story includes insights on Celtic and Roman lifestyles as well as a peek at the depravity in the Roman Coliseum.
Written for children ages 10 and older, the text is by no means dumbed down, a fact I value. Indeed, there were a couple of words I was unfamiliar with, so I greatly appreciated the glossary of terms included at the back of the book. Author Douglas Bond does not mince words as he deals with the Roman treachery portrayed in this third-century account, so families with more genteel reading habits may find such a brutal book unsuitable for their younger children.
Join Neil Perkins, Latin student at Haltwhistle Grammar School in England, as he uncovers a story of usurpation, treachery, and betrayal. After unearthing an ancient Roman manuscript, Neil dedicates himself to studying Latin and translates this exciting story from the third century. Disaffected centurion Rusticus serves Rome at Hadrian's Wall, an unruly frontier. He is saved from massacre by Calum, a Celt who was deeply changed when he saw Christians martyred in the Roman Colosseum.
Readers will learn the differences between ancient paganism and the primal Christian faith practiced in third-century Britain by only a remnant. Along with Neil, they will begin a more thoughtful approach to life as they reckon with all they have learned.
P & R Publishing
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