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In Honor Bound by Deanna Julie Dodson
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In Honor Bound (1997)

by Deanna Julie Dodson

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Though I have known about the Chastelayne Trilogy for some time I only recently began reading it due to some (mostly unfounded) reservations. Quite simple it is one of the best Christian Historical novels I have ever read, and the most Historically Accurate, or perhaps I should rather say Historically authentic, as the novel is not set in a real place/time.

Having said this, a number of the characters and events have their basis in real Historical figures and events, for instance Prince Philip’s character is undoubtedly based upon King Henry V (the fifth) of England, and his father’s deposition of the King to take the throne for himself resembles the circumstances surrounding the real King Henry V’s father obtaining the throne of England in 1399. The civil war in The Kingdom of Lynaleigh that results from this act also mirrors the aftermath of this event in English history.

One of the major issues that I have with many Historical novels is that the authors fails to appreciate the past on its own terms, and instead they impose anachronistic modern standards, values, attitudes, beliefs, concepts and often morality onto past eras, in which the all of these were actually very different from out own.

Deanna Dodson is one on the rare authors that largely does not do this, and in doing so displays an understanding and appreciation for alongside simple knowledge of the past. It is easy to cram a novel with specialist terms and historical details, but it is not so easy to write a story in which the characters are truly of the time in which the story is set.

Deanna does this marvelously, right down to the speech and language of the characters. In many Historical novels the characters speech is far too modern to be plausible, or is littered with out-of-place modern terms and phrases. It is not so here.

Of course the author has none gone too and had her characters speaking Middle English, or a langauge so archaic as to be incomprehensible. On the other hand it is historically plausible, includes actual period terms and phrases, and just sounds right.

The characters act within the constraints and expectations of their period and age, and the author tackles contentious subjects such as arranged marriage and gender roles largely without being contemptuously dismissive or judgemental of such practices and ideas.

Rosalynde the heroine is intelligent, spunky and knows own mind and is no shrinking violet or damsel in distress, but neither did the author feel the need to make her an over militant stroppy smarty pants with a chip on her shoulder who has to prove she is just as good as the men by donning armour or using a sword like an expert soldier. Instead Rosalynde displays her strength in her own way, and within the social expectations and behaviour of noble woman in this period.

Honour, duty and perceptions of public shame and reputation were acutely importing in the Medieval aristocratic society in which the characters live, and are cleverly worked into the novel as central features of the plot.

The only historical problems I spotted were some references to characters eating potatoes, which were not introduced to Britain until a century or so after the period when this story is set, and mention of cannons, and other such pierces of ammunition which were accurate and effective, when 15th century ammunition was notorious for being inaccurate, unreliable and often ineffective, even dangerous.

I also liked the way that Miss Dodson’s characters were not afraid tell the truth, or speak frankly about Christian concepts such as sin, salvation and the necessity of redemption. The honesty of Tom, younger brother of the Hero King Philip is particularly endearing, as he is never afraid to speak the truth and even rebuke his brother even doing so might be unwelcome or cause offence.

Only one passage was problematic in terms of religious content, this was one short scene in which Prince Philip knelt down in front of a statue of Jesus to pray, which could be objectionable to most Protestant Christians. Other than this, there were no real issues.

There is some ‘romantic’ content in this novel, but I did not think there were any full on sex-scenes. The author stopped short of actually describing anything in graphic detail, and certainly does not go as far as other authors in this regard.

Altogether and rare and excellent novel with maintains it’s integrity as a well-told and plausible story that is not ‘preachy’ or ‘clichéd’, but also does not compromise, conceal or ‘water-down’ the Christian content and ideas. ( )
  Medievalgirl | Oct 4, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0891079092, Paperback)

His father will stop at nothing at all to keep the royal bloodline "pure"--even murder. But his sins have nearly destroyed Prince Philip and the future of his reign.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:45 -0400)

Prince Philip's heart is hardened to God and to his new wife through the misdeeds of his father. With the fate of the kingdom lying in the balance, can Rosalynde's love break through to restore his faith?

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