Tucked up in the crevices of early fifteenth century world history are the border wars of England, Scotland and Wales. King Henry IV usurped the throne in 1399 under questionable action, but with Parliament's approval. The deposed Richard II was imprisoned in the Tower and finally silenced by death.
On the Scottish border, the English faced a different problem. They and their Scottish neighbors across the border constantly repaid the raids of one another with raids of revenge that were often stronger than the infrequent peace treaties.
Oswald Forester was born into these turbulent times. He would watch his father and fellow farmers ride across the border to capture stolen livestock. His eyes would then scan the horizon awaiting their return. Those returning were often less than those who left. Thus the animosity continued from year to year.
To escape the life of border raids, Oswald's father permits his son to become a squire in Percy's forces. Henry Percy had lent his support to the newly crowned Henry IV. Oswald's new attachment opens up a multitude of adventures as he walks into the mouth of danger repeatedly.
In the early years of Henry's reign he not only faced invasions from the Scots but also from the Welsh. Young Owen Glendower now led thousands of Welsh in a guerilla warfare to fight for Welsh independence.
Oswald and his faithful friend, Roger, must use their wits and agility, their wisdom and amicability to safely complete missions on both sides of the border.
Over time and due to the king's unfaithfulness to his own promises, the Percys began to question their own allegiance to the new king.
This predicament leads the reader to better understand the practical outworking of the priority of loyalty to the local lord. How this worked out in history for the Percys I will leave for the reader to learn from Henty's faithful weaving in actual history into his fast-paced fictional account.
As with other Henty works, this volume provides ample reason for the reader to reflect on a number of issues that remain relevant in our day. What happens when individuals take the law into their own hands? Why is it easier to remember the misdeeds of others toward us than our misdeeds toward them? What is the relationship of local civil government to national civil government? Are men to protect women on the enemy's side in the midst of warfare? How are we to handle thoughtless vows?
In addition to opportunities to reflect on these questions, readers can look forward to being entertained by another fine story and being informed by this account of an area of English history that is little known in our day.
- Byron Snapp
Byron Snapp is a graduate of King College (B.A.) and Reformed Theological Seminary (M.Div.). He was Associate Pastor at Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, from 1994 until his retirement in December 2014. He is a native of Marion, Virginia. He has had pastorates in Leakesville, Mississippi, and Gaffney, South Carolina. He served as Assistant Pastor in Cedar Bluff, Virginia prior to his ministry at Calvary Reformed. He has served as editor of the Presbyterian Witness and was a contributor to A Comprehensive Faith and Election Day Sermons. He is currently a member of Westminster Presbytery in the PCA. He and his wife Janey have 3 children and several grandchildren.