HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Soldier’s Cross
Author: Abigail J. Hartman
Cover Designer: David Siglin
Publisher: Ambassador Intl., 2010
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 14 and up
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Hartman, Abigail J. The Soldier’s Cross (published in 2010 by Ambassador International, Emerald House, 427 Wade Hampton Blvd., Greenville, SC 29609). It is A.D. 1415, and fifteen year old Fiona lives on an English estate near Wales with her father, Sir Madoc who is in ill health both physically and mentally, and her older brother Giovanni. Fiona’s God-fearing mother, who had taught Giovanni to love the Lord, died when the girl was very young. Though the family is religious, and Fiona faithfully attends Mass, she often laughs at Giovanni’s concern for her soul. Once an acquaintance of her father’s had asked for her hand in marriage, but Madoc soon forgot it and Fiona never knew about it. For the most part, she is happy, but her world begins to crumble when Giovanni marches away to join in the English invasion of France by King Henry V. Then her father dies. Finally, her brother’s body is brought home as a casualty of the fighting at the Battle of Agincourt.
Finding that his silver cross which had been given to him by their mother is missing, she disobeys the king’s travel ban and journeys across the Channel to war-ravaged France in search of it. Along the way, she is caught trespassing on the estate a young French nobleman and promises to give three years’ service to escape punishment. Then upon finally running away, she spends several more years recovering and working in a convent. What will happen to her? Will she ever locate her brother’s cross? And will she be able to find the peace which she thinks that it represents? Author Abigail J. Hartman was taught at home for all her schooling years, so she has had ample opportunity to branch out into the subjects she enjoys most, which are history and literature. The Soldier’s Cross, written when she was fourteen, is her first novel.
There are a few minor references to drinking things like mead, wine, and ale, but the story is generally wholesome. From a historical standpoint, it gives a good picture of what life was like in early fifteenth century England and France. However, there is also an important spiritual component. Abigail writes that in the novel “I was able to bring together some of the things I love best—the written word, history, and, above all, my God.” Why the 1400s? The false security in which the majority of Christendom lay is contrasted to the work of John Wycliffe in England, where Fiona grew up, and of Jan Huss in Bohemia, where her French master’s wife was from. And Abigail says, “The danger of ‘peace’ is as present now as it was in Fiona’s day.” Those who like historical fiction set in medieval Europe should enjoy the book.