One reason I was excited to finish school a month ago was to get back to reading fun books—like Sigmund Brouwer’s YA book Blades of Valor, the fourth (and final?) book in the Merlin’s Immortals series. For me, reading a Brouwer book is like eating a bag of candy—fun and easy. I tore through this book, eager to find out what happens to Thomas and Katherine and the other Druids and Immortals.
As Blades of Valor opens, Thomas is in the Holy Land, searching for answers after fleeing from his castle because of the Druids. He has traveled here with Katherine, yet he still doesn’t know if he can trust her. On their arrival in St. Jean d’Acre, they meet Sir William, the knight who helped Thomas regain Magnus in The Orphan King (book 1). Sir William and Katherine are able to answer some of Thomas’ questions about his childhood and the Immortals, but then Thomas sees something which causes him to question their honesty.
A chase through the Holy Land ensues, a final conflict between Druid and Immortal for Thomas’ loyalty. And Thomas is caught in the middle, still trying to decide who is telling him the truth and to whom he should give his allegiance. As he avoids Mameluke soldiers and common robbers on the dusty roads between Jerusalem, Jericho and the Dead Sea, Thomas slowly begins to unravel the truth behind Merlin’s Immortals.
This book felt like the longest thus far in the series. At times, I felt frustrated by the narrative distance between the reader and Thomas; as a reader, I was very much a fly on the wall, never sure if he was deliberately walking into danger because it was part of his plan and he knew what was going to happen, or whether he was really in trouble this time. And he walked into danger a lot.
Religion plays a minor role in the story, as the Druids pose as priests in order to take control of Magnus and Thomas is raised among corrupt monks. In a discussion about religion and what they’ve seen in their travels, Sir William tells Katherine, “The fat, greedy bishops are imperfect, but this does not mean the message they bring is equally imperfect. The structure in which God passes along faith is far from perfect, yet this does not mean the truth delivered by the structure is imperfect. Faith itself—the ultimate truth of God and His Son—is true.” That discussion continued for several pages and I appreciated Sir William’s wisdom about the distinction between man and God in the Church.
Overall, Blades of Valor is a fun book that takes readers back to the time of the Middle Ages or Dark Ages. Brouwer’s attention to historical detail was faultless, as usual, and brought England and the Holy Land alive for me, in all its dust and dirt and noise and smell. If you (or a teenager you know) enjoy fast-paced historical novels, check out Merlin’s Immortals.
Sigmund Brouwer is the best-selling author of more books than I can count, including The Canary List, Flight of Shadows, and The Last Temple (written with Hank Hanegraaff). He is married to recording artist Cindy Morgan and has two daughters; they divide their time between Red Deer, Alberta, and Nashville, Tennessee. Brouwer is passionate about getting kids reading and writing; check out Rock and Roll Literacy to find out more. You can also find him on Facebook.
Read my reviews of the first three books in the Merlin’s Immortals series:
I received this book for review courtesy of the publisher; all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.