A Review of The Little Duke
The flame of the gospel burned in men and women’s hearts during the Middle Ages and was effectually shown to others in word and deed. The existence of evil was also evident and could only be victoriously confronted by the light of Christianity.
In this volume the author weaves these realities into an excellent work of historical fiction that is appropriate for youth and adults. Eight-year-old Richard, Duke of Normandy, receives this title and the accompanying responsibility and danger when his father, William, is ambushed and killed while on a mission of good will in 943.
Young Richard exhibits traits that can only be fashioned by the knife of real life. The French king, Louis, and his entourage soon arrive at Richard’s castle in Rouen. Ostensibly on a friendly visit, the French king’s plans of taking Richard away and gaining control of his land and vassals soon become apparent. The number of Normans therein is no match for the French. Richard’s protectors have no choice but to release the little duke into the hands of one who will most likely bring harm to their leader and land.
Surprisingly, the months spent in the king’s castle are used by the Lord to bring the youth, later called Richard the Fearless, to necessary repentance, inner maturity, and true humility. This experience ultimately makes his leadership a stronger arrow to send forth in the fight against evil.
Richard’s return to Normandy and the events that follow the king’s pursuit of him are parts of the story I will let readers of this volume discover.
There is much more to this story than heroes and history. The author focuses on character development as the youth struggles with basic questions of life. When is revenge proper? What does forgiveness mean? Does God really bring justice? When should one listen to the counsel of others? As young Richard faces and works through these questions, the reader will see a maturing of character that manifests itself in surprising ways after Richard’s successful flight to freedom.
Yonge’s overtly Christian worldview shines through in this volume. Her writing accurately depicts historical truth and is undergirded with the solid beams of eternal truth. Both adults and youth can confidently read this book for sound ethics, education, and entertainment. Charlotte Yonge is a talented writer. Her meticulous research is apparent in this descriptive narrative that teaches the reader much about the 10th century. I am thankful this volume has been reprinted. It is deserving of a wide readership. Like other PrestonSpeed reprints, this volume is printed on acid-free paper. Its binding is strong and durable, making it a book that can be passed down to a new generation of readers.
Topics: World History