Thursday, January 12, 2006

Son of Charlemagne

Son of Charlemagne, Barbara Willard
(Doubleday, 1959; Bethlehem Books, 1998), 183 pp.

This is essentially an overview of the career of Charles the Great, King of the Franks, written from the perspective of his son and heir, Carl. According to information in this new edition, the book was originally written for a series which aimed to present significant times and events from a Christian perspective for children- a great aim.

We were not real impressed with this book, however. While it had its places with excitement, it often moved slowly. This may be due in some part to the fact that we read the excellent story of Rolf and the Viking Bow just before this one! Nonetheless, this story was a lesser one for several reasons. First, it was very difficult to follow the flow of time in the story. From one chapter to the next several years may have passed with no statement of that fact. Thus, it was often confusing wondering what the ages of the characters were and whether young Carl was an older boy, a teenager or what. This had a serious disorienting effect on the reading. Secondly, for us, it was to pro-Catholic. Of course, this was the religion of the time, but the lack of explanation or clarification introduced barriers for us. I do not want to present the pope as the Vicar of Christ or Sovereign Pontiff; but this was strongly affirmed in the book. Of course Catholic readers would appreciate this, but for Protestant readers, reading to their young children and shaping their views, this is a significant issue.

So, this is a decent book, it does give some historical background, but I would not go out of my way to get it.

NOTE: Interestingly my opinion is significantly different from the three reviews posted at Amazon. This highlights one of my reasons for doing this blog. We routinely have had books recommended that we thought were below average. So, at least here's another angle.


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