January Read: To Birmingham Castle

Hey everyone! Here I am with the book review on my January read, To Birmingham Castle by Alicia Willis! I will be doing a rating of the content in the book as well as how much I enjoyed it, so that any interested readers can see if they’d like to read it as well!

So without further ado, here is my review of To Birmingham Castle by Alicia Willis!

The Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads)

The time is the Middle Ages, a time of clashing arms, valiant knights, and intriguing castles. Join Robert Fitz Hasseltine, a young nobleman of unchallenged character and the heir to his uncle’s vast earldom. Valiant, yet merciful, Robert’s steadfast determination to aid the weak brings him face to face with several individuals who urgently need his protective care–individuals who must throw themselves upon his compassion and rely on his strength to overcome their pasts and lead successful lives.

Yet the days are volatile, and danger lurks on the horizon. There are dangerous enemies who hate Robert’s steadfast character and ever-present mercy–enemies who would do anything to vanquish his compassion and shower their malice upon his cause. A thrilling adventure commences, coupling victory, peril, friendship, and rivalry. During his eventful journey from squire to knight to earl, Robert’s courage is strongly tested and his strength challenged. Will he be able to overcome the enemies that beset him and proclaim himself the undisputed lord of his shire? And, above all, will he abide true to his resolve and prove to be a kind, considerate master?

Join Robert and his steadfast friends, Brandon, Strephon, Nathaniel, and Narcissa, in their long journey of friendship and adventure, and experience the thrilling perils of life at Birmingham Castle!

A novel of adventure, suspense, friendship, and courage, as a young man embarks on a perilous journey to overcome tyranny and reform chivalry in medieval England.

Content Review:

Positive Messages: There were a lot of positives about this book! The main characters are all very honorable, and all try to do what is right. They respect their authority, but also respectfully disobey if their authority tells them to do something which goes against God’s Word. One character forgives someone and seeks to save their life even when that person hurt them badly. It also showed compassion not as a weakness, but as a strength, and how justice always prevails over evil.

The main character, Robert, still honors his parents even when he becomes a higher rank than they are, and treats them with respect. The other characters, notably Strephon and Brandon, also honor and respect to their leader even when they don’t understand or agree with his reasoning. In turn, he respects them as well.

Rating: 5/5

Spiritual Content: The characters often thank God for their successes and for keeping them safe. The Lord gives one character a prompting and he obeys it even though he doesn’t have a logical reason to obey it. Two characters spend their night before they are to be knighted praying, and another character prays that the Lord will heal someone. Most of the characters strive to obey God’s Word.

There wasn’t an overload of spiritual content, but there was enough to show the characters were dedicated Christians and truly sought to do what was right. I was personally expecting there to be more than there was, but it was done very well!

Rating: 4/5

Romantic Content: Off the top of the bat, there was nothing inappropriate in this book romantically speaking. Three characters get married, and I don’t think there’s anything more than a couple hugs and kisses. However, in my opinion, the romances were a little obvious (I knew who was going to marry who within three or four chapters of the book) and I would have liked to see at least one of the characters remain single. That being said, it wasn’t the worst romance I’ve read by a long shot, but it certainly wasn’t the best either.

Rating: 3/5

Violent Content: This is set in medieval England and it’s about knights… thus there’s bound to be lots of fights and raids. None are graphically described in my opinion, and the worst description is about one character’s torture. There are multiple battles, a castle is raided, multiple people are felled from their horse or rendered unconscious from some wound, and the villain whips someone in order to get information. A couple little kids are treated roughly, and there are some trials where men are executed (but there’s no description of this). In all, the violence is there, but the descriptions are very light with little to no descriptive details.

Rating: 4.5/5

Language: A couple characters call someone a demeaning name (a demeaning name in their time period, not ours), but other than that, there’s no language I can recall!

Rating: 5/5

Other Negative Content: I can’t think of any negative content which goes against Christian values! However, there are a few style-wise things which may be considered negative to some readers which I will note here.

The book is written in Old English style; think King James Bible or G.A Henty books. It personally does not bother me, but some others may find this book very hard to read if they are not used to all the Old English terms. The author has a glossary in the back of the book for some of the less common Old English words which is helpful though!

The author head-hops quite a few times, however for me, it wasn’t that big of a deal. She didn’t do it confusingly, and it seemed natural the places she did do it. But for someone super sensitive to such things, it may annoy them and break them out of the story.

I really liked all the characters, but sometimes I felt like the main character was nearly always right, and the side characters… not so much. Towards the end there were a couple of instances of where the minor characters did get him to change his mind concerning things, which helped out my take on the main character, but of the three main boy characters (Robert, Strephon, and Brandon), he was my least favorite, even though I still really liked him. My personal favorite was Strephon, because I got to see how he struggled to do the right thing, and still overcame the temptation and did it. I didn’t get to see this from Robert that much, which may have made me like him a little more if I had. While it didn’t annoy me, it may annoy some other readers.

One last thing is the fact that this book is more of a character based book (think Anne of Green Gables or Tom Sawyer) rather than a plot based one. There was plenty of action and things to keep me on the edge of my seat, but no solid goal (other than perhaps the characters earning their knighthood) that would tell the reader the story was “wrapping up”, so to speak. While I don’t mind a good character-based novel every once and awhile, some readers may not like this.

Rating: 4/5

Total Content Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Personal Review:

I really enjoyed this book; I could sit down and read a hundred pages in one sitting, so it kept my attention very well! I love the noble character traits it uplifts, specifically the loyalty the characters have and their desire to do what is right.

As I mentioned before, there were a few minor things I didn’t care for, such as the predictable romances, but it was easy to skim over, and it wasn’t dwelt much on. I really enjoyed the parts with Strephon, which is probably why he quickly became my favorite character in the book.

This book is actually the first in a trilogy, and so I will be looking to get and read the next two books! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading medieval stories and books written in Old English.

Personal Rating: 4/5 stars

Thanks for reading my review! Do you think you will read this book? Have you read it before? Let me know in the comments below! God Bless! ~ Kay Leigh

6 thoughts on “January Read: To Birmingham Castle

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