Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Review: Where Valor Lies

Where Valor Lies by Adele and Cateau De Leeuw
1959, Lepanto Press, 186 pages, Hardcover

For young Richard, life as a poor Parisian apprentice seems rather grim compared to the glamour of going on a crusade with good King Louis IX. After he hears the impassioned words of a friar preaching in a town square, Richard abandons his unhappy apprenticeship and enthusiastically joins up with King Louis’ Crusade. Little does he realize what he is getting himself into. But, before he runs away to join up, he “instinctively” enters the great cathedral of Notre Dame to pray about his future and a problem that is weighing him down.

How many young men in today’s modern fiction would go inside a church to pray when they feel pressed down by the burdens of the world and in need of consolation and help? Throughout the book there are several glimmers of Richard’s Catholic faith. There are also moments too when he struggles with his conscience. Stealing would make life so much easier, profitable, and comfortable, especially when they are all starving. But would it really? What if he were caught? What about his conscience? What would saintly King Louis think of him?

In Where Valor Lies, we follow the escapades of young Richard and his comrades on the Sixth Crusade with King Louis IX. King Louis IX sets the example of goodness and kindness to those around him, but life is not easy as they face one after another misfortune, including near starvation, devastating plagues, and the threat and immobilizing fear of a brutal enemy. There are moments of exhilarating victory in battle as well. As Richard matures, the heroism of those around him inspires Richard on to greater sanctity. Surprisingly, it is not just in the moments of victory, but also in the moments of defeat when he learns life’s greatest lessons of truth and goodness.

Where Valor Lies includes a colorful cast of characters including Aimar, a father like figure who watches over him, Pierre a dear and close friend, Friar Bernard, whose example of unfailing help to those in need inspires those around him, and the rascal Vincent, an enigma whose generosity ultimately triumphs over his greed.

Where Valor Lies opens with a whirlwind of activity and does not stop until the last page, keeping the reader’s attention riveted throughout. It is a story of personal growth as much as it is an adventure story of an impetuous young man on a quest for great fortune and glory during the Sixth Crusade. What is a man’s true valor? In the end, Richard finds out it is not great victories in battles, but the moral victory over oneself.

Reviewed by Elizabeth Yank (5/15/07)
Available from All Catholic Books


Alexandra said...

I happened to pick this book up some time ago from a library book sale, and it is terrific! It's well written and easy to read aloud because it flows well. It caught my interest from the start; this is not a dry factual historical novel.

I'm glad I found your review. I'll link for my book review.

Alexandra said...

I see a little typo. in your review...I have the book and it is definitely the Seventh Crusade(1248-1250), not the Sixth Crusade. Thanks again for the wonderful review!