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The Betrayal

by Douglas Bond
375 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Nienna

Interesting, thought-provoking, historical read with some violence.

Plot

Jean-Louis was born in the same town and the same year as Calvin. They even attended the same beginner school, yet one rose to fame in serving the Lord while the other sunk down into shame, having turned his back on God. This is the confession of Calvin's faithful servant - who was also his sworn enemy.

Morality

Although Jean-Louis behaves very wickedly and has many wrong thoughts and attitudes, he is writing it as a confession so it is all shown as very wrong. Calvin and those he holds up as examples are very virtuous and behave in a godly manner in everything.

Spiritual Content

As the book is about Calvin, there is scarcely a page that does not mention God or the Church. Much of it is about the struggle between the Reformers and the Catholic Church. Pagan gods are mentioned a few times.

Violence

Many, many people are martyred and a few of these instances are well-described, though not graphically. The main character almost drowns twice, but is rescued. A primary figure dies of illness. Some characters suffer fear for their lives and constantly await torture for their faith.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Jean-Louis frequently drank too much, but he was reprimanded for this by Calvin. All of the characters drink wine and other alcoholic beverages to some extent. Other minor characters are occasionally referred to as being drunk.

Sexual Content

When still a boy, Jean-Louis had a beautiful neighbor girl who he desired to be his lover. He mentions several times his "nightly revelries" while in Paris, which seemed to be more than just drinking. A harlot approaches Calvin at one point, tempting him, but he refuses her and warns her to reconcile with God. Adultery is mentioned a few times as a sin.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

A few characters possibly swear in French.

Conclusion

I could not put this book down and found myself pulled along by the strength of the writer's emotions and the impact of his tale. The picture painted of Calvin glows almost beyond belief, but it seems to be based on historical facts. The Christianity is solid, though I disagreed with some of his theology, and I appreciated how everything is shown to be the working of God for good, even if it is evil in itself. My only warning is that it is rather violent, though no more than it needs to be.

Fun Score: 4
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 13+

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