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Hostage Lands

by Douglas Bond
228 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Nienna

Good, historical, Christian read that has some violence.

Plot

Latin may come easily for Neil Perkins, a student at Haltwhistle Grammar School in England, but that doesn't mean he likes it or his eccentric teacher, Miss Klitsa. But when he unearths an ancient Roman manuscript, Neil sets himself to translating the third century story of a dissatisfied Roman centurion named Rusticus and a noble Christian Celt named Calum, and the dangerous journey they were forced to make.

Morality

While some characters are very bad and Rusticus has some selfish desires which conflict within him, nevertheless peace with all men, service to God foremost, and selfless love are all shown as right and best.

Spiritual Content

Rusticus reveres the Roman gods and occasionally prays to them. He also mentions the Celtic gods a few times and once offers to make a sacrifice to one of them. Calum believes in Christ, however, and it is his belief that is portrayed as true. The whole story shows the working of God in using seeming disasters to bring about great good.

Violence

Many men die in battle. A main character is wounded with a spear and he briefly describes the agony of getting the wound seared by the physician. The governor tries to get certain people killed. The slaughter of entire villages is mentioned. An old man is gored by a wild boar. Some persecution of Christians is briefly described, including a 7-year-old boy being beaten to death. The main characters are more than once nearly killed. A man is whipped. This is all very mild, with the exception of the Christian persecution.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A poison is used to make a man ill. Wine and mead are drunk.

Sexual Content

It is mentioned that the Roman soldiers are forbidden to marry, so many unofficially wed, or have children without wedding first. When describing the persecution of Christians he had witnessed, a character says that a beautiful young woman was mocked with lewd comments and abused. A young woman is held as a hostage for her fiance's good behavior and, while nothing is stated, it is clear how she will be used if he disobeys.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

None.

Conclusion

One of my favorite of Bond's books, it is an interesting and enjoyable read. The characters are painted well and are easy to relate to; the plot is intriguing, and the Christianity is very well done. Though the writing style in this book could use improvement, I particularly appreciated the way he ties the past with the present, making the historical fiction all the more interesting by making it seem real. I highly recommend it to teens, particularly those interested in Roman-Britain.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 13+

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