Friday, April 11, 2014

Merlin's Immortals Book Four: Blades of Valor by Sigmund Brouwer

Publisher Summary:

Travel with Thomas from Jerusalem to England in this exciting conclusion to the Merlin's Immortals series.
Thomas is finally in the Holy Land and reunited with Sir William, but is forced to travel on his own from the coast through Nazareth, and finally to Jerusalem. The road is a dangerous one—especially to a lone traveler. Bandits masquerade as slaves, traitors appear to be allies, and once again, Thomas doesn’t know whom to trust. He must rely on his own resources to discern friend from foe, and to finally discover the final key to the Druids' master plan before returning home to expose them.  Back in England, a final storm is brewing against Thomas, for the Druids are much more powerful than the Orphan King can even imagine. 

At long last, the conclusion to the Merlin's Immortals Series. This is definitely a series that needs to be read from start to finish.  Could it have all been put into one book?  Well, yes, but considering the reading level, I think having 4 shorter installments makes it much more accessible to younger readers (8-12 or older struggling readers).

I really like that Brouwer tackles the very popular Merlin theme.  Without being bogged down with wizardry but rather focusing on the virtue and valor of those who followed Merlin in opposition to the Druids, younger readers will have a wonderful introduction to a fascinating story.  Merlin is really only brought up in his historical sense and the influence he had upon writing down some of the secrets of the Druids (that in this book suggest a knowledge of chemistry that was used to deceive the masses into thinking they had supernatural/magical powers).

The cast of characters is ever changing as Thomas travels quite a bit throughout this 4 book series.  I'd recommend reading the series in quick succession to not lose track of who is who.  With elements of mystery, adventure, danger, and a touch of romance (not enough to bother boys), this is truly a sweeping story that comes to an utterly satisfying conclusion.  All the loose ends are tied off in the perfect (and not all that predictable) way.  I was surprised on more than one occasion by the turn in action and loyalty.

I think this series fills an important niche for young readers.  Tackling a topic often written for a much older audience, Brouwer brings clarity to the issue of spiritual battles that have raged for centuries.  The Druids, rightly so, are portrayed in no glamorous light but showing instead the true depravity of their motives and methods.  Good is clearly good and bad is clearly bad--you will find no graying of moral boundaries.  I appreciate a book that elevates and encourages the kind of valor that is so rare in this day and age.

Want to stay up to date with Brouwer's new releases?  Hop on over to his Facebook page. And if you'd like to join in his literacy efforts, check out his website: Rock and Roll Literacy.

Disclaimer: I received a free Kindle version of Blades of Valor for the purpose of review. No other compensation was received.

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