Hey everyone! I’m back with my July Read, Theobold the Iron-hearted by E. Thompson Baird. This month’s book is the shortest on my list because starting in the last week of June, things get crazy in my life, so I knew I’d need a shorter book. Thus I chose this children’s story since it looked intriguing and was about knights.
The Synopsis: (Taken from Goodreads)
A battle in medieval times brings about a unique situation between two enemy knights, Theobold and Erhard. Unknowingly, after Theobold thought he had killed Erhard, he finds himself wounded and being cared for in the house of Erhard’s father. This story teaches the godly principle Jesus brought forth in Matthew 5:44, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”.
Positive Messages: All the characters have good character, even the enemy knight and titular character. Theobold is brave and dedicated to doing what he believes is right, serving the church and ridding the world of “infidels”. When he is wounded and cared for by his enemy’s Protestant family and is confronted with their love for him and strange relationship with God, however, he is eager to learn of it, and expresses his repentance for dueling Erhard against the other knight’s desire. When he knows Erhard is alive, it is he who makes the effort to be reconciled to him. On the side, Theobold is very concerned about his wife and children and wishes they might know he is not killed, but alive.
Erhard is a peaceable man that didn’t want to fight, but did so, hoping to be able to quell the bloodshed somehow. Even after Theobold strikes him down and his men rout Theobold’s army and advance on his castle, he asks that they spare Theobold’s family and sees that they’re safely taken to his aunt’s home for her to care for them, despite Theobold’s wife having been cruel to her Protestant captives. While believing Theobold is dead, he mourns for him, and when he hears he is living, praises God. He readily forgives the man.
Erhard’s family and servants also show good character while caring for Theobold. Erhard’s father treats him like his own son, even after discovering that Theobold is the one who nearly killed his own son. The two servants, John and Matthew, also are kind to Theobold, and all three of them speak to him about Jesus and God and try to get him to understand that it isn’t Mary and the angels who are deserving of his praise and worship, but God and Jesus, His Son. Even Erhard’s son speaks about being kind to the knight, even though he’s a stranger.
In all, the author did a good job of portraying all the characters with good, Christian and moral values.
Spiritual Content: As the synopsis states, the book’s main theme is Matthew 5:44. Theobold is a Catholic who believes it’s his duty to kill those who despise and go against the Roman Church. His enemy, Erhard, is a Protestant knight who doesn’t want to fight and doesn’t believe people who believe in Jesus ought to quarrel with each other. He readily forgives Theobold when he asks, and Theobold seems to repent for striking him down when Erhard wished to withdraw from their duel.
It is the kindness of Erhard’s family and servants that portray the Matthew 5:44 part of the book. By caring for him even after discovering that he is the one who nearly killed Erhard, they show him the true love of Christ and bring him to see Him for Who He truly is.
Theobold seems ignorant of a lot of Christian principles, such as being able to love one’s enemy, that Jesus, not Mary and the angels, has God’s power, and what purchased by His blood means (even though he has a crucifix), but is eager to learn them, including that he doesn’t have to earn his salvation.
They do seem to show Catholics in a negative light, as if they worship an entirely different God than Protestants do. (More on that below).
Romantic Content: None of this is in the book, so all good here!
Violent Content: As a children’s book, the violence is kept to a minimum, despite being about warring knights. The predominant violence takes place off-page, with people relaying what happened. In fact, the most gruesome violence is only mentioned, that being that two Protestant knights had their eyes gorged out by their Catholic captor. The description is nothing worse than the Biblical descriptions of such things.
A duel between two knights is recounted twice. One knight’s helmet is split, but he is only knocked unconscious, not killed. In retaliation, the wounded knights’ men chase after his barely-armed enemy and believe they killed him.
A boy and an old man watch two knights pursue one to kill him. When they go to see if the fleeing knight is alive, they find him badly injured, his horse having fallen on him when it was killed with a lance. Some blood flows from his wounds.
An army is routed with high casualties and someone says a castle has been burned, but no one within was killed.
Language: No language here!
Other Negative Content: The only negative thing worth noting is what I mentioned above in the Spiritual section. The author (in my opinion) portrays Catholics in a very negative light, as if all Catholics desire to kill anyone who is not a part of the Church, that Catholics are ignorant of some basic Biblical doctrine, and that they believe in a totally different God than the Protestants do. While I’m sure not all Catholics are well-versed in Biblical doctrine, not all Protestants are either. If a person believes in their heart that Jesus died for their sins on the cross and rose again on the third day and confesses this with their mouth, then according to Romans 10:9-10, they are saved. I don’t think anyone but the Lord should judge if someone (whether claiming to be Catholic or Protestant) is saved, because only He can see the heart.
Total Content Rating: 4.5/5 stars
For a children’s book, this was a nice read that taught a good lesson that children and adults alike can learn. There is also a little bit of simple history tucked into the book which was nice too! The only negative thing about the book is the fact that it seemed to portray Catholics as unsaved and wicked (at least in my eyes). At least they counterbalanced that by showing some of the Protestants also did wicked acts.
In all though, it was a very uplifting and encouraging read, which, if you have children, could stimulate some good faith-filled discussions about loving enemies, kindness and even a little bit of history!
Personal Rating: 4/5 Stars
I hope you enjoyed this review! Do you think you’ll read this book? Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below! God Bless! ~ Kay Leigh
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