When I picked up this book to read, I thought the cover looked very dark and menacing. The fight scene depicted brings about a foreboding sense that reading this book might not be such a good idea. I shook the feeling aside, and I'm glad I did. This story grabs you from the very beginning and doesn't let go!
Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart was written by Chuck Black for young impressionable readers as an alternative to various dark novels on the market these days that include witchcraft and ungodliness. His desire is to provoke young Christians toward more holiness. The content in this book would place it at pre-teen to teenager level for complete understanding, although I recommend it as a read-aloud for children as young as 4th grade.
Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart is the third book in a series of stories that take place in a land called Arrethtrae. All the books in the series are allegorical, much like The
Pilgrim's Progress. The major happenings in the story parallel the life of the believer. For those who are unsure about making all of the allegorical connections, Mr. Black has included a section in the back of the book that goes into depth explaining the parallels. This story has a lot of spiritual "meat," and Chuck Black is a devoted writer that will help encourage your teens to "work out [their] salvation with fear and trembling."
The story starts out with Sir Dalton training and preparing himself for any future fights he might encounter as a knight. At his place of training, he meets with other knights and notices that some of them are taking the training sessions more seriously than most other knights in the group. He brushes their seriousness aside and focuses on becoming an accomplished knight so he can impress the father of a young lady named Brynn.
All too soon, it seems, Dalton is thrust into the thick of a battle, and he finds he is not prepared for the fight. He realizes the foolishness of not taking his training more seriously. He is amazed that his enemy is so brutal and his own strength is so lacking. It isn't until he escapes from an enemy's stronghold that he is fully trained as a knight. The next time Dalton goes into battle, he is better prepared and stronger in his understanding, which helps him to conquer the enemy. Although he saves the day, the romantic side of his story doesn't end so well. He is forced to part ways with Lady Brynn. She just doesn't seem to take life as seriously as Dalton does. While Dalton loses one friend, he seems to find camaraderie with the serious-minded knights he once considered so strange.
This story was full of adventure, although some parts moved along pretty slowly. At times Mr. Black jumped from one time frame to another quite unexpectedly, leaving the reader a bit confused as to what happened. We able to pick up the story after the jumps, but we did find them jarring.
That being said, this is a wonderful adventure tale for older children to become immersed in. It will bolster their faith in Jesus and help dispel any seeds of doubt that might be lurking in their hearts. I highly recommend this book and other chapter books Chuck Black has written. He has proven himself to be a champion for young adult Christians.