Fields of Glory by Gilbert Morris: A Review

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The Fields of Glory
by Gilbert Morris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m trying to finish this series by the end of the year. I read the first few books when I was a teenager and I held a bit of nostalgia for the series. Up to this point, I don’t really feel like the series has held up over time, but it’s still a good series. It’s Christian historical fiction set during the rise of Protestantism in England. In this particular book, it’s set during the reign of King Charles II, after the death of Oliver Cromwell. This was a point in history when the Royalists (who lost the Civil War to the Parliamentarians) return to England and come into power.
As far as the fictional family, the Wakefields, the author seems to be moving away from the steady father to son legacy that is found in the first three books. In the last book, the Morgan family (distant relative from Wales) made their first appearance, and they take up a good amount of the plot in this book. In addition to that, we are introduced to Jenny Clairmont, another person from Wales and follow her story which intertwines with the Wakefields and Morgans. Also, Morris includes whole chapters on the actual historical figure John Bunyan.
The author seemed to really be a fan of John Bunyan. He even includes some excerpts of Bunyan’s writing in his own story (although to be fair, he also includes some poetry and Shakespearean excerpts as well). This book, however, focused a lot on Bunyan, and with the addition of Jenny’s story and the Morgans, the Wakefields took a bit of a backseat.
The writing, like in the previous books, was flowery and a bit convoluted. We had to hear about everything they ate or wore, what every person looked like and whether they were attractive or not. I found myself skimming those parts, really just wanting to get on with the story. I understand he was building the world, but I just wasn’t interested in every beef broth they ate.
Still, the plot was interesting. Following the independent preachers as they were thrown in jail and then how they overcame was really interesting. I don’t know how much fiction was added to it, but it will give me new perspective when I read a Pilgrim’s Progress again.
Overall, it’s okay. I do enjoy the history, but the writing is only so-so. Nostalgically, it’s been a good ride so far.

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The Shield of Honor: A Review

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The Shield of Honor
by Gilbert Morris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is book three of the Wakefield Dynasty by Gilbert Morris. The synopsis on the back only actually covers part one of the book (the first hundred pages). The historical fiction covers the voyage of the Pilgrims and the English Civil War between the Parliamentarians and the Royalists. It included historical figures like King Charles, Prince Rupert, John Pym, and Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell takes a lead in this story as his history intertwines with the fiction of the Wakefield family.
The writing continues to be flowery. There is a lot of passive verb usage and sometimes it comes off a little pretentious. The plot was interesting. I like learning about how religion and politics continue to affect and shape the history of England. The fictional part of the story was interesting as well. The story follows both Christopher Wakefield and his son Gavin. Each generation has a different journey to God, which I think is the primary point of these stories. The twists were somewhat predictable, especially if you have read the previous two, but it was still enjoyable.
There is, again, no profanity. There was a lot more sexual innuendo in this book compared to the previous ones, but nothing even remotely graphic. There were some almost-rape scenes or sexual assault scenes, and I wasn’t really that impressed with their outcomes. And I seemed to notice some sexist remarks more in this book. One of the major characters remarks that he was “blubbering like a woman” and that took me completely out of the book for a moment. After that, I started to notice just how much the author focused on how attractive everyone was or wasn’t and how that affected their station in life.
Since the focus for half of the book was on the Civil war, there was some violence, but again, nothing really graphic.
While this book series (since this has been a reread so far) has been slightly disappointing, I still recommend it for anyone who would appreciate a light historical fiction with heavy Christian leanings. I am still determined to finish the series and hope that it continues to become more complex and that I learn more about how England was shaped!

The Winds of God: A Review

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The Winds of God by Gilbert Morris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a re-read for me. This is a series from my childhood, and I felt like reading something nostalgic this summer. I was really into historical fiction at the time, particularly from this era, so I was interested to see if I would still enjoy it.

So the last book ended with Henry the eighth and Anne Boleyn, but this next book skips ahead to the reign of Bloody Mary and Queen Elizabeth, particularly the conflict with the Spanish Armada. It continues with Myles’s grandson, Robin for most of the story. He wants to be a sailor, so we are taken through how the boats were built and sailed, as well as how combat evolved on the sea during this time period.

As for the fictional part of the story, Robin’s father was burned at the stake as a heretic by the Catholic ruler, Bloody Mary (this was on the back of the book, so not a spoiler). He grows in hatred for the Catholics and through his journey he learns where that hatred can take him and what it can take away from him.

The writing is slightly better in this book than the first one. It gets really detailed with all of the ships and the political intrigue, which at times could be a little slow. But I enjoyed the plot. The twists were a little predictable, and the ending was a little too perfect, but it was still a good story.

I felt like the transformation of the main character was better done in this book than the first one. It was more of a slow progression and depended on things that were happening. Plus, you could see his flaws more clearly than Myles in the first book. The conversations had a little more depth to them, though it could still be, at times, pretty surface level.

Profanity is not used in these books. There is some slight sexual content, but nothing graphic. And there is a lot of violence since much of the book either talked about executions or combat. There is an abusive relationship also included, but, again, it’s not very graphic.

Again, this was a nice nostalgic re-read for me. The Spanish side of the conflict was fascinating. I didn’t know a lot about that particular part of history. I would recommend this to late middle grade who like historical fiction, particularly boats (it had a lot of ships and naval information).

Sword of Truth: A Review

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Sword of Truth by Gilbert Morris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a re-read for me. This is a series from my childhood, and I felt like reading something nostalgic this summer. I was really into historical fiction at the time, particularly from this era, so I was interested to see if I would still enjoy it.

The teen Christian novel is set in the 1500s during the reign of King Henry VIII. It follows the fictional family, the Wakefields, who are wealthy Protestant landowners. Because of their position, they are able to interact with some notable historical figures, including William Tyndale, King Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragorn, Anne Boleyn, and Thomas Cromwell. It highlights the evolution of the Protestant movement in England, as well as mentioning other key historical events in the world. The author interweaves the Wakefields into these events very well.

There were two criticisms I had about the book. The writing is a little over the top with the present perfect and past perfect verb tenses. “I had written” “He had gone”. It was just enough to pull me out of the story a few times. Also, while the author does include some of the darker sides of that time period, it’s very muted. Infidelity, promiscuity, greed, and dishonesty are all part of the plot but they are alluded to or implied. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I felt like it affected the character transformations, particularly of Myles. For example, without spoiling anything, his relationship with the court in London was downplayed, so when he had a choice to leave it, I couldn’t understand why that choice was hard.

There isn’t any profanity. As I mentioned above, the sexual and violent content is muted or alluded to. I didn’t feel like there were any graphic or detailed scenes at all. There is an almost sexual assault in the first chapter, and another in the middle of the story, but both are not explicit at all. There is mention of beheadings and heads on posts as they entered London, but, again, nothing graphic.

The story, itself, is actually really good despite the above criticisms. I really liked the way the author includes the characters in major events without affecting the history of those events. I didn’t remember everything that happened in the story, so it was nice to re-read and follow the adventure again. I would recommend this book to a younger teen, possibly preteen. This was a fun, nostalgic read for me, and I plan to continue the series!