I was invited to review “Sir Dalton And The Shadow Heart”. It’s book three of Chuck Black’s series “The Knights of Arrethrae”. I haven’t read any of the other books in the series, or any of Chuck’s other books, so I can’t speak to how it fits in the series. However, I do have some thoughts on this work.
For those who aren’t familiar with the series, Chuck Black provides a Q&A section at the back that teaches outright the spiritual lessons he tries to bring out in his story. Each chapter has a set of questions that ask the reader to reflect upon their own life and upon the truth of God. It felt to me like it would be best used by a group doing lessons together over a period of time.
That’s not a very exciting setup for a book. And when I first started reading Sir Dalton’s tale, I really wasn’t into it. It seemed like a generic story forced into the form of a lesson. But with the shortness of the book, and feeling that the author was really trying to do something good here, I read on.
And to my surprise, I found that I was slowly drawn in. Even though simply reading straight through may have been more entertaining, I stayed faithful to checking the questions after every chapter. I wanted to experience the book as the author intended. It’s a good thing too, because at the end of the book I found I really appreciated it as a whole.
I don’t know if it’s just me or what, but the book seemed to really take on life later on. The characters seemed more alive, I was experiencing the world in a deeper way, and the story became more engaging. And while many of the book’s elements have been overused by other writers over the years, there were some refreshingly new elements. Well, we know there’s nothing new underneath the sun, but they were new to me.
As long as one can take the book for what it is, I think it will be enjoyed and appreciated. I haven’t read anything Chuck himself says about the book, but I have a feeling he didn’t intend for the readers to take it as just a story. He probably wanted them to use it as an entertaining and engaging way to go deeper in their faith. Whether he wanted that or not, it’s how I’m going to recommend the book. Use it with fans of fantasy, who are open to both direct and indirect study. Go through it, and then lead a group in a study. If you lead a devoted youth group then I think you could use this book with them. I imagine it would be great for parents to go through with their younger children.
There’s a need to consider the doctrine of the book, since the author outright declares some things as truths. Overall, I really appreciate what Chuck wanted to get across. There are lessons in there that are sorely needed. I don’t agree with everything he had to say. I’d encourage readers to look EVERYTHING up in the Bible. Don’t just take his word for it, and don’t just take my word for it either. There are a few things he has assumed, which may or may not be right, but make sure you look to what God says in the Bible and have that as your only foundation for truth.
As long as one is willing to trust COMPLETELY in the Bible, this is a good book for them. If they aren’t, then it’s possible that it may encourage them to reconsider. Again, just as a work of fiction I don’t think it’s anything grand. And as just a lesson it’s valuable but not necessarily a “life changing experience”. But putting it all together it sure seems to me to be worth while and useful. I’m very glad I finished the book.
Thanks, Chuck Black!
Information from the publisher, Multnomah Books…
Sir Dalton, a knight in training, seems to have everything going for him. Young, well-liked, and a natural leader, he has earned the respect and admiration of his fellow knights, and especially the beautiful Lady Brynn.
But something is amiss at the training camp. Their new trainer is popular but lacks the passion to inspire them to true service to the King and the Prince. Besides this, the knights are too busy enjoying a season of good times to be concerned with a disturbing report that many of their fellow Knights have mysteriously vanished.
When Sir Dalton is sent on a mission, he encounters strange attacks, especially when he is alone. As his commitment wanes, the attacks grow in intensity until he is captured by Lord Drox, a massive Shadow Warrior. Bruised and beaten, Dalton refuses to submit to evil and initiates a daring escape with only one of two outcomes—life or death. But what will become of the hundreds of knights he’ll leave behind? In a kingdom of peril, Dalton thinks he is on his own, but two faithful friends have not abandoned him, and neither has a strange old hermit who seems to know much about the Prince. But can Dalton face the evil Shadow Warrior again and survive?
Young adults will be inspired to strengthen their faith along with Sir Dalton, as they follow his exciting and action-packed journey to overcome his doubts and renew his commitment to the King and the Prince in this third installment of Chuck Black’s popular Knights of Arrethtrae series.
Chuck Black traveled with the Air Force as a communications engineer and F-16 fighter pilot and began a career as a product design engineer. Chuck and his wife, Andrea, homeschool their six children and have a family music ministry that travels throughout the region. He is the author of nine novels, has been published in The Old Schoolhouse e-zine, and has received praise from parents across the country for his unique approach to telling biblical truths. Chuck and his family live in Williston, North Dakota.