Knights of valor...Knights of courage...Knights of the Prince! |
This is the catchphrase for the epic series The Knights of Arrethtrae, another action-packed set of medieval-based allegories from the praiseworthy author Chuck Black. For any of Black's fans, or any fan of Christian fantasy, these books truly deliver. Blending adventure, romance, and epic sword fights with powerful messages that point to Scripture, The Knights of Arrethtrae is a series that needs to be a part of every young man's personal library.
Both this new trilogy and Black's first series, The Kingdom Series, are set in the mythical land of Arrethtrae, a medieval world that has fallen away from the plans of its great ruler and God-figure, the King. The Knights of Arrethtrae series occurs some time after the great resurrection of the King's Son, the Prince, which took place in Black's first series. The series introduces many new characters, along with characters that will be familiar to those who have read Black's previous works.
The series starts off with the explosive first novel, Sir
Kendrick and The Castle of Bel Lione. In it, we follow a Knight of the Prince, Sir Duncan, and his more experienced mentor, Sir Kendrick, on an epic quest to discover more about a growing order of knights that have become a threat to the Prince's peaceful intentions for the land of Arrethtrae. Kendrick and his impulsive young apprentice encounter many dangers as they make their way to the heart of the new order, the great castle of Bel Lione. The great fortress holds many secrets within its stone walls, including the key to the mysterious disappearances of the surrounding villages' youth. Disaster strikes when Duncan himself disappears within the castle's walls. Kendrick must resort to the help of many a strange companion in his quest to free not only his friend but the entire kingdom of Arrethtrae. This book speaks of the dangers of secular youthful pleasures in an easy-to-read tale of brave knights, beautiful ladies, and vicious villains.
Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court, the second book in the series, was my personal favorite. The story begins with the knighting of the young man named Bentley into the city of Chessington's order of "Noble Knights." As this order is Black's alternate for the Pharisees of the time of Christ, Bentley soon discovers that there is still something missing in his life. He has obtained all that he thought possible--wealth, fame, the favor of women--and yet, he feels that his life still lacks a vital key. He begins to question the orders of his superiors, especially when he is commanded to kill innocent Followers of the Prince. Eventually he joins the Followers himself. Donning the guise of a lowly peasant, he and a deaf guide travel to Holbrook, a town that is ruled by a self-serving lord and his evil advisor. It is here that Bentley is discovered to be a caring young man, a point that is proven when he sacrifices his own welfare for that of a local maiden. Soon, Bentley finds himself in embroiled in dangerous circumstances, and it is only his trust in the Prince that gives him the heart to carry on in his daily fight. This story teaches how greed can cause devastation, but it also teaches how a merciful person can be a blessing to those around him.
The third installment, Sir Dalton and The Shadow Heart, introduces us to Sir Dalton, a young knight who is in training at a local "haven" (Black's allegorical synonym for a church). As the story progresses, we learn that Dalton seeks to win the hand of a maiden who he has befriended, and to do so, he must embark on a mission under the tutelage of an older knight. Before he leaves, however, he must complete his training as a Knight of the Prince, a challenge that grows increasingly harder as his new instructor proves to be less of a true Knight of the Prince then he makes himself out to be. Before Dalton's training is fully complete, he is kidnapped by the evil lord Drox and taken to his underground fortress prison. Drox relies on the fear he inspires in his prisoners and forces them to doubt the Prince they once held so dear. Dalton manages to escape but feels compelled to return to the fortress and rescue the hundreds of other Knights imprisoned there. With the help of several friends and the guidance of a mysterious hermit, he throws off the doubt that has troubled him through his knighthood. Throughout the tale, Black shows his readers the dangers of doubt and what it can do to a follower of the Prince.
The books also include study questions that will inspire hours of conversation and discussion over such topics as greed, fear, doubt, mercy, belief, and love. These questions enable readers to easily study the novels on their own or lead a group through the adventures in an uplifting Christian setting.
While these books are some of the best allegories I have ever read, I do have one bit of warning about them: they are not for the faint of heart. As the battle scenes can often become thrillingly dangerous and even graphic, I would recommend these books to young men ages twelve and up.
I personally loved these books, and give them two thumbs way, way up. Brilliantly blending Biblical truth with awesome medieval stories, they are a great addition to any Christian's library. I highly recommend that everyone "journey to Arrethtrae, where knights of noble heart live and die in loyal service to the King and the Prince!"