As my first review, I thought it right to review a series that I am very familiar with. A series which fueled my love of books and writing. It was a series I happened upon by chance. A series which connected me to an author who has inspired me as well as befriended me (it’s amazing she puts up with me!), and has always encouraged me in my writing. It’s important to know the backstory, because this is a key series in my growth as a bibliophile as well as an author. This series–and this author–challenged my idea of what a book (and in particular, a Christian book) should be, how it should interact with the reader, and how to find a voice for each character.
My Story with This Book: When I was fifteen years old, I was preparing to go on a missions trip to Hungary. To raise money, we held yard sales, asking for donations of “junk” to sell from other church members and friends. One friend donated some books for us to sell, but I was so curious about the book that I kept it for myself. It was “The Chataine’s Guardian”, which was the first published book of author Robin Hardy. And the copy I had was a first-printing. Unfortunately, I no longer have that copy (I loaned it to a friend who never returned it), but I’ve since bought copies of the newer printings–along with every other book Robin has written.
Author: Robin Hardy
Rating: 5/5 – Highly Recommend!
Genres: Medieval fantasy; Christian; Romance; Historical fiction
Synopsis: As the daughter of the Surchatain (king) of Lystra, ten-year-old Chataine (princess) Deirdre is a privileged child who cares for little outside of her own pursuit of happiness. When (seemingly) stern and serious Roman, a Captain of her father’s army, is appointed as her guardian, she will learn life lessons of gratitude, self-sacrifice, and integrity. As she matures into a beautiful and kind young woman, she will face challenges that she could never have predicted; and as a result, she will find strength she did not know she possessed.
Response: While I’d never say the story is”fluff”, Robin writes in such a way to make her books quick, easy reads. That is due in part to the familiar tone and the way she captures the reader, urging them to read “just a little more”. This book in particular challenges the idea of a Christian romance novel, in that it does not fall into the predictable nuances that so many others fall prey to, nor does it present the cookie-cutter image of Christianity that has become so boringly sanitized in the Christian fiction genre. As should be obvious by now, I love this book and would definitely recommend it.
Content: The content is quite clean, though some readers in the past have been offended by a couple of phrases, such as the use of “bastard”, though it was only used in the literal sense (an illegitimate child); or the description, “Roman swore” (though no actual curse word was mentioned). There is also interaction with witches/sorcerers, especially in the third book (Liberation of Lystra). While the author does not (cannot) say whether those exact things could/would ever happen in real life, they are true to the story and the characters deal with those situations in a scriptural way. The intimacy is very clean and respectful, being described only in the context of marriage, and not in very great detail. I first read this series at 15 years old, but I would say even younger would still be appropriate. 12+ would be a good age range to introduce this series.
Theology: Theology is not what I would call “specific”. That is, you’d never guess which denomination the author is, or whether she wishes to present a particular doctrine outside of the basics agreed upon by all who follow the Apostles’ Creed. It is not even clear whether Catholicism or Protestantism is favored, though medieval Catholicism is alluded to and assumed as the common understanding of Christianity for that time period.
Where to find it: Amazon is the easiest place to find it, but before I discovered Amazon (over fifteen years ago when I first started searching for her books), eBay and Half.com were usually helpful in finding used copies for very cheap. A word of caution, though: Robin shares her name with the more famous British author who wrote “The Wicker Man”, among others. I discovered the hard way (after reading The Wicker Man) that you can’t just go by the author’s name to know who you’re reading. Therefore, the most reliable place is to look on her author page at Amazon.