HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Treachery and Truth: A Story of Sinners, Servants, and Saints
Author: Katy Huth Jones
Publisher: Pauline Books and Media, 2016
Related website: http://www.pauline.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Recommended reading level: Ages 12 – 17
Rating: ***** 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Jones, Katy Huth. Treachery and Truth: A Story of Sinners, Servants, and Saints (published in 2016 by Pauline Books and Media, 50 Saint Paul’s Ave., Boston, MA 02130). You have undoubtedly heard, and maybe even sung, that “Good King Wenceslas looked out on the Feast of Stephen,” but do you know the true story of the real Wenceslas, or Vaclav as he was called in his native language? It is during the “Dark Ages,” around A. D. 921, and the Duchy of Bohemia is ruled by the Premsylid dynasty. Vaclav is fourteen years old. His late grandfather Duke Borivoj, and his father, Duke Vratislav who was killed in battle with the Magyars, had been Christians, but his mother Dragomira, who ruled as regent for her minor son, had reverted to paganism, closed all the churches, and prohibited the practice of Christianity. However, Vaclav had been raised at the castle of his grandmother Ludmila, and both of them are Christians.
A twelve-year-old orphaned slave named Poidevin is brought to the castle to serve Dragomira but becomes much attached to Vaclav. So when Vaclav is crowned Duke at age sixteen, Poidevin is made his personal servant. Because Dragomira and her younger son Boleslav are implicated in the murder of Ludmila, Vaclav banishes them. However, they still have a lot of influence among some of the voyvodes or nobles and plot to get rid of Vaclav. What will happen to him? How will the people of Bohemia react? And what will become of Poidevin? Cleverly told through the eyes of the faithful servant Poidevin, Treachery and Truth is a good little historical novel about a period of European history with which most people are unfamiliar. The only complaint that I saw was from someone who objected that narrative is one-sided because “the author was glossing over the intolerance Price Vaclav shows to the Pagans while at the same time condemning his mother for her intolerance for Christians.”
My response is that this is simply not true. Both the book and my research show pagans murdering Christians but no examples of Christians murdering pagans. Yes, Vaclav executed righteous judgment on criminals, but he was not intolerant. Yet, this same critic wrote, “The imagery in this story is well done and…I found it pretty accurate.” I guess that for historical fiction I would be quite satisfied with “pretty accurate.” Though it is a work of fiction, the account is based on known facts, and all the main characters are genuine historic figures. While both teenage boys and girls will like this well written and exciting novel, boys will especially find several strong figures to serve as good role models. And adults can enjoy it too. Yes, there is sadness at the end, but the Epilogue, Afterword, and Author’s Note in the back all point to a more hopeful future. The story of Vaclav’s bravery, honesty, humility, and generosity also delivers a powerful message about the meaning of suffering, fidelity to Christ, and loving our enemies.