Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Book Review: Chivalrous by Dina L. Sleiman

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Title: Chivalrous

Author: Dina L. Sleiman

Series: Valiant Hearts #2

Genre: Historical

Audience: Young Adult

**4 stars**

Chivalrous was a superb second book to the VALIANT HEARTS series by Dina L. Sleiman. For some reason or another, I enjoyed it quite a bit more than Dauntless, Book One in the series; and it has gotten me very excited to read the next book in the series!

This story tells about the life of Gwendolyn Barnes ... a young woman who wishes she could be a knight. Who unconsciously strives to please the father she is disgusted with. Who fears marriage.
   And Allen of Ellsworth, a former outlaw who was once part of the Ghosts of Farthingale Forest, who now is hoping to win a tournament and do great things in the world.
   Both young people are faced with trials and burdens they cannot hope to bear on their own. Evil plans are afoot. Dreams are crushed in the light of responsibility. Is there hope and love beyond what Allen and Gwendolyn can see?

I think it's fun how Dina L. Sleiman writes YA, medieval historical with a sort of fairytale-ish twist. For Chivalrous is a bit of a retelling of the tale: Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, just as Dauntless is a retelling of the legend: Robin Hood. It lends a slight fairytale air while still being great historical!

As for the themes of this story, I was uncertain at parts, but really liked them by the conclusion of the book! Gwendolyn is a strong, yet vulnerable young lady. She has a soft, feminine side, yet has long since stuffed it away because she needs to be "strong"! Strong, because her father doesn't treat her or her mother as he should. It's terrible, really. And it's a relatable situation. For though feminists are on the move in our culture today and you a lot of times see men put down in media stuff (which is wrong as well!!); there are still situations where men use their God-given leadership position in a negative way. And it breaks hearts. Poor Gwendolyn's heart is broken. She can't be a man (and please her father), because God created her a woman. But she doesn't want to be a woman, because her father treats women so horribly.
   Some scenes might have a been a bit overdone, but overall, I really felt Gwendolyn's pain. And her searching. And her desire to be strong and run free. Chivalrous is a beautiful, healing story all in all.

The faith themes, which tie into the themes above, were really poignant as well. I love how deeply Dina L. Sleiman dives into these things! These characters are really seeking God, and that's amazing to see. I love their journey to faith. It was real and touching.

On that note, I wasn't sure I was going to like Allen, because he seemed to have some issues with pride. And it seemed for awhile, that it was alright for him to be prideful, because he really wasn't being prideful, but rather simply reveling in his God-given abilities ... Whatever. I was a bit disturbed for a little while. However, the situation changed quite nicely; and I feel like the arrogance was realized, faith grown, and a lesson learned.

It was lovely to see snippets of Gwendolyn's maid, Rosalind's life and thoughts as well! Though some of it was terrible and tragic! *tears* I hope she can find healing! I was glad to find out that the third book, Courageous is about Rosalind!
     Randel was also a great character! Such a sweet guy!! ^_^
   Grr! Gwendolyn's father and brothers really made me mad sometimes! And her mother, just a broken shell of who she was supposed to be, really, I think. *sad face*
    I believe this story is a sad picture of what families many times look like when the man doesn't lead properly, in strength but also deep, sacrificial love. The father is oppressive, angry, and abusive (if not physically, then verbally). The mother is a shadow of herself; bitter. The sons are mirrors of their father (even if they're reluctant to be so, or not quite as extreme). The daughters stuff womanly softness and femininity, and try to be even more strong and independent than needed because they don't agree with how their father treats women.
    Thought-provoking book. Sad in many ways. There was one scene in particular that my heart bled for Gwendolyn. It involved a doll. Anyway, I appreciate this book pointing out how the Bible says to do it: Women are told to submit to their husbands, yes. But first it tells the men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Men, lead in love. Women, submit in respect. Journey life together as friends and companions - looking out for one another. Love and serve each other!
    That's beautiful.

*Ahem* Just had to get all my thoughts out.

So yes. Though deep and filled with tough issues, danger, and hurt, Chivalrous also had it fun times. It's very sweet moments. It's soul-stirring side. I quite enjoyed it! Recommend to fans of faith-filled, adventurous, medieval historical especially! I look forward to reading more. ^_^

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