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Friday, April 9, 2010

The Terrestria Chronicles Review

I am an avid reader. Or at least I try to be when four kids, homeschooling, being a wife, keeping a pseudo-clean house, and life in general allow me the luxury of reading. So I have really enjoyed the fact that the TOS Crew has received a few different books to review, which has given me a reason to HAVE to sit down and read!

I have to admit though that I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy this latest assignment. The Terrestria Chronicles is an allegory series which "was written with a three-fold purpose: to honor Jesus Christ as King, to challenge young readers to love and serve Him, and to teach them to guard their hearts for Him. The focus of the series is always on the King." The allegory part was the stumbling block for me that kept me from being fully excited about the chance to curl up with a book. I prefer my fiction to be entertaining and an escape from headier things. Generally, allegory means I have to THINK and not just ESCAPE. Shallow, I know, but that's the truth. But, I'm happy to report that while I still prefer a good story-for-story's-sake, I actually enjoyed the two books I received and even found them inspiring and encouraging me.

I received the first two books in the Terrestria Chronicles to review. The first, "The Sword, the Ring and the Parchment " introduces us to Josiah, a slave of the evil Argamor. He is a cruel taskmaster who is served by Lawofsin and Evilheart and he lures his slaves in gently at first until day by day the bonds of their servitude tighten until they arrive at the place we find Josiah when the story begins; shackled and chained by the weight of guilt and desperate to escape but realizing the hopelessness of his situation.
The King comes. King Emmanuel in all His splendor arrives just in the nick of time and saves Josiah from slavery to Argamor. But not only does He save him, He makes him a Prince and takes him to His castle. The rest of the book follows Josiah's struggles to learn about His King and to learn how to yield His book like a sword and to use petitions to seek His assistance or just to offer up thanks and praise. Despite his gratitude toward King Emmanuel, Josiah is easily distracted from the King's business and each trial refines him and his faith more.

The Quest for Seven Castles starts a year after Josiah is saved, and involves him setting out on a quest for his King. He must visit seven castles-the castles of Virtue, Knowledge, Temperance, Patience, Godliness, Brotherly Kindness, and Charity (2 Peter 1:5-8). Along the way, he encounters tests that he must pass that relate to the quality portrayed by each castle he seeks. In this book, Josiah is learning to trust His book/sword and the Holy Spirit (in this case a white dove). He sees over and over again that following them keeps him safe, but ignoring them and relying on his own strength always gets him in trouble.

The pros: If you are looking for safe, God glorifying reading for your age 10+ children (or as a family read aloud), this series is it. The fact that it is written in the world of knights and castles and princes and serpents provides an engaging and entertaining backdrop for the deeper spiritual lessons (along with real historical lessons and a glossary of terms to help you understand all things Middle Ages related). These are books you can feel good about your children reading, and books that can be used to spark conversation about spiritual issues.

The cons: These books are heavy on allegory. Maybe a little too heavy. This is not the next Narnia. The allegory is much more in-your-face and obvious. But I don't feel like the story is secondary to the message as I have with other Christian evangelising book. Because allegory by its very nature needs the story to convey the message, the books are still an interesting and worthwhile read.

The bottom line: I'd recommend these books without reservation. But more than that, I have to say that they took my reluctant reader daughter and made her into a voluntary reader, if only just for one book. It might have been the castle on the front that is eerily similar to the one at Disney World, but it was enough to draw my daughter in. In fact, she didn't want to give up the book so that I could read it. That speaks volumes to me. And when we read the first book aloud, by kids begged for more. What more can I say?

The Terrestria Chronicles are available HERE. Each book is $7.99 or you can get the whole set for $39.99. The set is also available in hard cover for $73.99. In addition to the Chronicles, the author, Ed Dunlop, has written four books in the Tales from Terrestria series. These are stand alone books. He also has several other Christan children's/young adult books. All are available by following the link above. Other members of the TOS Crew had the opportunity to look at other books in the Chronicles series or from the Tales series, so I encourage you to go HERE to see what they had to say.
Legal disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received the first two books of the Terrestria Chronicles so that I could provide an honest review. Those books are the only compensation I have received.
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1 comment:

Susan Scott said...

Thank you for this review. My daughter and I had heard about these books from an evangelist our our church. I have six children and am also a homeschool mom. I told my daughter I would look into these books and let her know if she could read them. She is eight and loves to read. I think we may even read these together. Thank you.
God Bless,