Sir Quinlan and the Swords of Valor by Chuck Black
(from the back of the book)
Sir Quinlan leaves his boyhood friend to serve the Prince, fighting a battle darker and more intense than any he’s ever known. The mysterious Sir Baylor recruits him into the ranks of an elite unit of knights known as the Swords of Valor, but when tragedy strikes and everyone blames Quinlan, the Swords of Valor disband, ending a legacy of heroic deeds.
Alone and despairing, Quinlan wanders the kingdom, fleeing his past. His providential encounter with Taras, a mysterious Silent Warrior and former trainer of Valor Knights, offers Quinlan a chance to redeem himself and learn the ways of the secret warriors.
The training is grueling, and just when Quinlan seems to have left his failures behind, he receives an impossible challenge from the Prince – one that will force him to face his past… and the mighty men who blame him for the tragedy that ruined them.
Can Quinlan reunite the Valor Knights in time to save the people from the Dark Knight’s evil plot to rule the Kingdom of Arrethtrae, or will the Valor Knights lose the most important battle of all?
This is the fifth book in the Knights of Arrethtrae series. There is a little intro so that new readers will have some idea of the world of the knights going into the story. Not having read any of the other books I found it helpful because it gave me some context for the story I was about to read but this book can certainly stand alone and you do not have to have read the others first. There is no mistaking that this story is a biblical allegory. There is nothing subtle about the message here. And sometimes, especially when Quinlan is speaking to his trainer, Taras, it can get a bit preachy but that is forgivable as that is much of the point of the book and it is an important part of Quinlan’s training and his entire journey. The book does a good job of making the fight of good versus evil a real battle that we all have to be aware of and the dangers if we ignore it. It also brings up some important biblical issues. Quinlan must make some hard choices, leave behind what he has known, face struggles, failures and his own self-doubt, make decisions based on faith alone and often must act when it would be easier to just go home. It also explores the fact that God often chooses the unexpected people, how even those who have the outward appearance of being a follower are not always so, that there will still be tragedy and heartache, and many other biblical truths that our heroes and those around them face. It doesn’t shy away from the harder aspects to try and make a happier story. Although it is an allegory and is meant to teach a lesson it is still an exciting adventure story with action, suspense and a little mystery and magic. In the back that are a lot of discussion questions (and answers) that will get readers thinking more deeply about the story and will help readers understand concepts that they might not have gotten from just reading the book. I like that the questions encourage the reader to look to the Bible for the answers. It is a story about knights and there are sword fights and danger and adventure but the message is always at the forefront. It is a strong, forceful message. I don’t think that is a bad thing but it might turn some people off and might be better suited to children who are already interested and trying to learn more instead of a story to spark the first interest.