I’ve been a mom for over 23 years now, and I have constantly searched for wholesome books to read to my children and to have my children read. So when Salem Ridge Press allowed our Schoolhouse Crew Review to review several of their titles, I was thrilled to have been chosen. I was chosen to review The Magic Runes: A Tale of the Times of Charlemagne by Emma Leslie.
This “living history” book is set in the summer of 782 A.D., and focuses on a young family of Saxony, France, during the times of Charlemagne. Saxons during this period had great disgust for Charlemagne, who murdered Saxons and plundered their villages in the name of Christianity. When this young family (Godrith, his wife, and their two children) are forced to leave their village and trudge through the forest, the young mother gets too ill to continue, so Charlemagne's soldiers leave them all for dead in the forest.
Enter young Adalinda and her charcoal-burner father Pepin, who take in this young Saxon family and care for them and befriend their two young children. They are followers of the “White Christ” as Jesus was referred to during that time, and they show this young Saxon family a warm picture of true Christianity. Godrith and his family are amazed that their pagan “gods” obey this White Christ, and that their family is cared for despite the fact they should be enemies with one another.
When Godrith’s young son Alaric is kidnapped one day while playing in the forest (supposedly predicted by the magic runes on the forest trees), Godrith is forced to take drastic measures to secure his son’s safety. I won’t reveal too much, but the beautiful theme of this reader can be summed up in this passage: “There might be—there were—two sides to Christianity, the outward and visible, as represented by Charlemagne and his conquering troops, and the inner—the real, as taught by the White Christ, and shining in the lives of His followers, Pepin and his daughter, who could sacrifice her own comfort and pleasure, though it cost her a hard struggle and much pain, in order to help those who were not even her friend, but her enemies." (Godrith in The Magic Runes, p. 80)
What I thought: I will admit, the language in this book is very different than conventional novels, and I had to switch from having Abbey read the book, to my reading it to her. As you can tell from the above excerpt, it is written in a bit lofty and lengthy writing style, and was originally penned in 1888, so it takes some effort to read and understand, but it is worth it.
As we began, I was worried that Abbey would not be able to follow the story, but she understood it quite well, and she loved it, begging me to read more than one chapter at a time: “I hope this chapter goes fast! I want to find out what happened to Alaric.” The delightful characters drew us both in, and made us care about what happened to them. Isn’t that the sign of a great book?
The setting of the book allowed us to expand on the history and geography of this time period, and to discuss important issues that still ring true today, most importantly doing works in Jesus’ name in a damaging way can confuse and confound the lost. We must judge ourselves and others by their fruit, as Godrith and his family soon learn.
We highly recommend this reader, and look forward to reading the next title in the Emma Leslie Junior Church History Series!
- Recommended Ages: Reading on their own: Ages 10 and up, or for a read aloud, ages 8 and up. A glossary is provided throughout the book to help students (and moms) with difficult word meanings.
- Price: $10.95 for soft cover or $20.95 for hard cover. Bonus: Read the first chapter here!
Please take a moment to explore the Salem Ridge Press website , and enjoy reading the different reviews by my fellow Crew mates; they all reviewed different titles from Salem Ridge Press, so you can really get a feel for some different offerings there! Click below:
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