Friday, October 15, 2010

Guns of Thunder by Douglas Bond

Recommendation: Highly Recommended

The Faith and Freedom Trilogy (a sequel to the Crown and Covenant Series) is set in pre-Revolutionary War Connecticut, with Old World oppression and New World liberties clashing. The M’Kethe family of Scotland finds itself in 18th century surroundings and living amidst this conflict of forces of the French and Indian War, as fictional characters come alongside historical figures from both Scottish and American history.
Having lost his father, Ian M’Kethe receives godly wisdom from his grandfather that shapes his growth into a man. The threat of the French looms as Ian’s family toils to make a living on their land in the upper Connecticut Valley. Ian dreams of attending college, and yet there is the call of duty that beckons him to join the battle to protect the freedoms of the New World. The strong bond he has with his cousin Roland is a factor that cannot be dismissed, as Roland is eager to enlist. An unusual tie to the legacy of Ian’s father is Watookoog, a mysterious Algonquin Indian who stays with the M’Kethe’s, and proves to be a teacher, protector, guide, and father figure over time. Ian finds his own faith and it grows as he matures throughout the book. The Christian beliefs of the M’Kethe family are strong and clear, serving as a guide for their lives as well as a comforting factor in the midst of hardship.
Positives:  The story line includes descriptions of the land and what life was like in that time and setting, as well as insights into the character’s impressions and internal thought processes. Preacher Jonathan Edwards was very naturally woven into the story, giving a wonderful opportunity for direct, convicting, biblical teaching. Ian wrestles with the reality of hell and his own need for a personal Savior. Ian and Roland’s interactions are appropriately boyish yet spiritually mature, display a yearning for righteousness, and the conviction of sin that is evident of real faith in God through Jesus Christ.

The presence of Ian’s grandfather and Watookoog show the deep need of a young man for strong models of godly men. Both men provide security, love, instruction (practical as well as God-focused) and dedication to Truth. Ian flourishes through these relationships that are essential in the absence of his father.

Negatives: None
             
Talking Points: One thread that runs through the book is the process of Ian working the family land, selling his crops, and earning a significant amount of wages through. Part of the process involved wisdom and strategic planning on his part (stewardship), as well as humility in accepting advice (Prov. 19:20). Perhaps more important, though, is the subsequent decision of how to then use the earnings that are left over after providing for his family’s needs. His honest struggle is an excellent example of weighing the value of worldly goods and their temporal benefits (and in this case, something that was desirable but not necessary; 1 John 2:15-17) versus something that blesses another person but was costly in more than one way (Acts 20:35). This sacrifice that Ian makes for Roland turns out to be a key factor in their later military victory. Not only was this an act of love toward Roland, but it is a conscious and intentional effort on Ian’s part of generosity, dying to himself (his own desires), and sacrificially loving another person. God blesses this decision later, showing His faithfulness of provision to Ian by granting him the desire of his heart (Psalm 37:4), enabling him to attend college.
Ian has been trained in the ways of the Lord. The reader has the privilege of witnessing his heart-piercing encounter with the truth of the gospel (John 3;16-18), tormenting visions of hell (Luke 16:23-24; Matthew 13:49-50), and his own need for Jesus Christ as Savior (Romans 5:6,8). A sermon preached by Jonathan Edwards and a key conversation with his grandfather afterwards brings him to the point of true repentance.
The intended audience for this book is ages 8-12, but I would also recommend it for family reading (as we did in our family).

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