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Pride and Prejudice
September 05, 2011

Yes, that's right, Pride and Prejudice, the adored, despised, glorified, belittled, and controversial Regency romance. I recently read it as part of my literature study, and decided to share a few of my thoughts on the classic beloved by generations of swooning girls.

I opened P&P's pages with a bit of my own prejudice, and was pleasantly surprised to find large quantities of vivacious dialog, instead of the blocks of fashion-centered, dress-describing description that I dreaded. The story moved well. The plot was intricate enough to stretch the mind, but not as wound and bound in a honeycomb of subplots and additional characters that writers like Dickens employed. (Not that I'm complaining about Dickens.)

Opinion on Select Characters:

Elizabeth Bennet: (Main character) Not particularly memorable. It's easy to relate to her situation, but she has neither the sagacity of Jeanne in The Reign of Terror, or the vivacity of Diana Vernon in Rob Roy. In Elizabeth's defense, she is refreshingly different from her other sisters, and quite the opposite of her vulgar mother.

Mr. Darcy: (Main character's eventual love interest) For some reason, Mr. Darcy has been idolized as the woman's "perfect man," and I expected him to be dashing, cheerful, gallant, etc. He turned out to be a pretty good chap after all, who starts out being quite prideful and gets a much-needed dose of reality. He was properly passionate about his love for Elizabeth at the end, without degenerating into mushy sentimentality. (For an example of annoying male melodrama see Jasper in Cooper's The Pathfinder.)

Jane Bennet: (Elizabeth's older sister) A good type of girl. Rather naive, but modest, loyal, and feminine. It's easy to wish her happiness in life.

Mr. Wickham: (Most villainous character) Jane Austen did an excellent job of creating a three-dimensional villain. He was vindictive, knavish, and unscrupulous, without being the glowering squint-eyed fellow with an evil laugh that villains are often portrayed as.

Mr. Bennet: (Elizabeth's father) Probably a realistic portrayal of a Regency father, but woefully neglectful of his daughters' training and relations with the world. I do give him great lenience due to his marriage with Mrs. Bennet.

Mrs. Bennet: (Elizabeth's mother) Annoying and vulgar. P&P would have been more satisfying if she had been punished in some way for her ridiculous and insensitive ways; something after the fashion of Silas Wegg in Dickens' Our Mutual Friend.

Mr. Collins: (Elizabeth's cousin) Delightfully annoying. A very enjoyable caricature. One of P&P's most memorable characters, in my opinion.

My favorite quote from P&P relates to Mrs. Bennet.

Mrs. Bennet to Mr. Bennet: "You have no compassion of my poor nerves."

Mr. Bennet to Mrs. Bennet: "You mistake me, my dear. I have a high respect for your nerves. They are my old friends. I have heard you mention them with consideration these twenty years at least."

Summary Opinion

Pride and Prejudice was more interesting than I expected and gives an excellent perspective on Regency England, but is not deserving of the idolization it has received.

Pride and Prejudice in 34 words:

(I can't resist having this bit of fun)

Mr. Darcy: I am giving you the honor of marrying me.

Elizabeth: I abhor you.

Months later. . .

Elizabeth: Do you still want to marry me?

Mr. Darcy: Of course!

They live happily ever after.

Tueri a vulnere,


Posted by John Horn at 09:57 AM |

Scotland: In Freedom's Cause
June 14, 2011

Archie's Successful Stratagem Archie's Successful Stratagem

In Freedom's Cause by G. A. Henty

Archie Forbes is raised to be a true Scot in a time when England's mighty boot lay firmly planted upon the green moors and purple heather, and the Scottish nobles are divided by party factions and greed. The high nobles seem intent only on personal gain, and the people are leaderless against the enemy. Leaderless, that is, until Sir William Wallace raises his gigantic sword, and calls upon his people to retake their homeland.

Although young, Archie is proficient with his weapons and fearless in the face of danger. The lad soon joins Wallace and his band of patriots, fighting sword-by-sword with the great chief against the oppressors. Blackguardly nobles, fierce Highlanders, and haughty English hem them in on every side, and Archie must use his wits as well as his weapons to protect his chief and convince others to join. This is one of my favorites, and a must read for any interested in Wallace, Bruce, and Scottish history.

Some favorite aspects of In Freedom's Cause:

I'm a hopeless lover of Scottish history, so this tale is quite appealing. This is one of the very few books in which Henty takes sides against the English, a novelty among his novels.

Archie has a great deal of Scot's common sense, and he uses this in some very ingenious ways. The way in which he tackles disguise, espionage, and "bodyguard" duties is fantastic.

There are so many memorable scenes that it's hard to pick favorites. I greatly enjoyed the incident with the hound - read the book to find out what I mean.

Tueri a vulnere,


Posted by John Horn at 06:53 PM |

"Shark Attack!"
April 21, 2011

(In response to reader question "Are there "teaser" chapters we can see? See above post.)

Chapter VII. of The Coral Island:

Jack's ingenuity--We get into difficulties about fishing, and get out of them by a method which gives us a cold bath--Horrible encounter with a shark.

For several days after the excursion related in the last chapter we did not wander far from our encampment, but gave ourselves up to forming plans for the future and making our present abode comfortable.

There were various causes that induced this state of comparative inaction. In the first place, although everything around us was so delightful, and we could without difficulty obtain all that we required for our bodily comfort, we did not quite like the idea of settling down here for the rest of our lives, far away from our friends and our native land. To set energetically about preparations for a permanent residence seemed so like making up our minds to saying adieu to home and friends for ever, that we tacitly shrank from it and put off our preparations, for one reason and another, as long as we could. Then there was a little uncertainty still as to there being natives on the island, and we entertained a kind of faint hope that a ship might come and take us off. But as day after day passed, and neither savages nor ships appeared, we gave up all hope of an early deliverance and set diligently to work at our homestead.

During this time, however, we had not been altogether idle. We made several experiments in cooking the cocoa-nut, most of which did not improve it. Then we removed our goods, and took up our abode in the cave, but found the change so bad that we returned gladly to the bower. Besides this we bathed very frequently, and talked a great deal; at least Jack and Peterkin did,--I listened. Among other useful things, Jack, who was ever the most active and diligent, converted about three inches of the hoop-iron into an excellent knife. First he beat it quite flat with the axe. Then he made a rude handle, and tied the hoop-iron to it with our piece of whip-cord, and ground it to an edge on a piece of sand-stone. When it was finished he used it to shape a better handle, to which he fixed it with a strip of his cotton handkerchief;--in which operation he had, as Peterkin pointed out, torn off one of Lord Nelson's noses. However, the whip-cord, thus set free, was used by Peterkin as a fishing line. He merely tied a piece of oyster to the end of it. This the fish were allowed to swallow, and then they were pulled quickly ashore. But as the line was very short and we had no boat, the fish we caught were exceedingly small.

One day Peterkin came up from the beach, where he had been angling, and said in a very cross tone, "I'll tell you what, Jack, I'm not going to be humbugged with catching such contemptible things any longer. I want you to swim out with me on your back, and let me fish in deep water!"

"Dear me, Peterkin," replied Jack, "I had no idea you were taking the thing so much to heart, else I would have got you out of that difficulty long ago. Let me see,"--and Jack looked down at a piece of timber on which he had been labouring, with a peculiar gaze of abstraction, which he always assumed when trying to invent or discover anything.

"What say you to building a boat?" he inquired, looking up hastily.

"Take far too long," was the reply; "can't be bothered waiting. I want to begin at once!"

Again Jack considered. "I have it!" he cried. "We'll fell a large tree and launch the trunk of it in the water, so that when you want to fish you've nothing to do but to swim out to it."

"Would not a small raft do better?" said I.

"Much better; but we have no ropes to bind it together with. Perhaps we may find something hereafter that will do as well, but, in the meantime, let us try the tree."

This was agreed on, so we started off to a spot not far distant, where we knew of a tree that would suit us, which grew near the water's edge. As soon as we reached it Jack threw off his coat, and, wielding the axe with his sturdy arms, hacked and hewed at it for a quarter of an hour without stopping. Then he paused, and, while he sat down to rest, I continued the work. Then Peterkin made a vigorous attack on it, so that when Jack renewed his powerful blows, a few minutes cutting brought it down with a terrible crash.

"Hurrah! now for it," cried Jack; "let us off with its head."

So saying he began to cut through the stem again, at about six yards from the thick end. This done, he cut three strong, short poles or levers from the stout branches, with which to roll the log down the beach into the sea; for, as it was nearly two feet thick at the large end, we could not move it without such helps. With the levers, however, we rolled it slowly into the sea.

Having been thus successful in launching our vessel, we next shaped the levers into rude oars or paddles, and then attempted to embark. This was easy enough to do; but, after seating ourselves astride the log, it was with the utmost difficulty we kept it from rolling round and plunging us into the water. Not that we minded that much; but we preferred, if possible, to fish in dry clothes. To be sure, our trousers were necessarily wet, as our legs were dangling in the water on each side of the log; but, as they could be easily dried, we did not care. After half an hour's practice, we became expert enough to keep our balance pretty steadily. Then Peterkin laid down his paddle, and having baited his line with a whole oyster, dropt it into deep water.

"Now, then, Jack," said he, "be cautious; steer clear o' that sea-weed. There; that's it; gently, now, gently. I see a fellow at least a foot long down there, coming to--ha! that's it! Oh! bother, he's off."

"Did he bite?" said Jack, urging the log onwards a little with his paddle.

"Bite? ay! He took it into his mouth, but the moment I began to haul he opened his jaws and let it out again."

"Let him swallow it next time," said Jack, laughing at the melancholy expression of Peterkin's visage.

"There he's again," cried Peterkin, his eyes flashing with excitement. "Look out! Now then! No! Yes! No! Why, the brute won't swallow it!"

"Try to haul him up by the mouth, then," cried Jack. "Do it gently."

A heavy sigh and a look of blank despair showed that poor Peterkin had tried and failed again.

"Never mind, lad," said Jack, in a voice of sympathy; "we'll move on, and offer it to some other fish." So saying, Jack plied his paddle; but scarcely had he moved from the spot, when a fish with an enormous head and a little body darted from under a rock and swallowed the bait at once.

"Got him this time,--that's a fact!" cried Peterkin, hauling in the line. "He's swallowed the bait right down to his tail, I declare. Oh what a thumper!"

As the fish came struggling to the surface, we leaned forward to see it, and overbalanced the log. Peterkin threw his arms round the fish's neck; and, in another instant, we were all floundering in the water!

A shout of laughter burst from us as we rose to the surface like three drowned rats, and seized hold of the log. We soon recovered our position, and sat more warily, while Peterkin secured the fish, which had well-nigh escaped in the midst of our struggles. It was little worth having, however; but, as Peterkin remarked, it was better than the smouts he had been catching for the last two or three days; so we laid it on the log before us, and having re-baited the line, dropt it in again for another.

Now, while we were thus intent upon our sport, our attention was suddenly attracted by a ripple on the sea, just a few yards away from us. Peterkin shouted to us to paddle in that direction, as he thought it was a big fish, and we might have a chance of catching it. But Jack, instead of complying, said, in a deep, earnest tone of voice, which I never before heard him use,--

"Haul up your line, Peterkin; seize your paddle; quick,--it's a shark!"

The horror with which we heard this may well be imagined, for it must be remembered that our legs were hanging down in the water, and we could not venture to pull them up without upsetting the log. Peterkin instantly hauled up the line; and, grasping his paddle, exerted himself to the utmost, while we also did our best to make for shore. But we were a good way off, and the log being, as I have before said, very heavy, moved but slowly through the water. We now saw the shark quite distinctly swimming round and round us, its sharp fin every now and then protruding above the water. From its active and unsteady motions, Jack knew it was making up its mind to attack us, so he urged us vehemently to paddle for our lives, while he himself set us the example. Suddenly he shouted "Look out!--there he comes!" and in a second we saw the monstrous fish dive close under us, and turn half over on his side. But we all made a great commotion with our paddles, which no doubt frightened it away for that time, as we saw it immediately after circling round us as before.

"Throw the fish to him," cried Jack, in a quick, suppressed voice; "we'll make the shore in time yet if we can keep him off for a few minutes."

Peterkin stopped one instant to obey the command, and then plied his paddle again with all his might. No sooner had the fish fallen on the water than we observed the shark to sink. In another second we saw its white breast rising; for sharks always turn over on their sides when about to seize their prey, their mouths being not at the point of their heads like those of other fish, but, as it were, under their chins. In another moment his snout rose above the water,--his wide jaws, armed with a terrific double row of teeth, appeared. The dead fish was engulfed, and the shark sank out of sight. But Jack was mistaken in supposing that it would be satisfied. In a very few minutes it returned to us, and its quick motions led us to fear that it would attack us at once.

"Stop paddling," cried Jack suddenly. "I see it coming up behind us. Now, obey my orders quickly. Our lives may depend on it Ralph. Peterkin, do your best to balance the log. Don't look out for the shark. Don't glance behind you. Do nothing but balance the log."

Peterkin and I instantly did as we were ordered, being only too glad to do anything that afforded us a chance or a hope of escape, for we had implicit confidence in Jack's courage and wisdom. For a few seconds, that seemed long minutes to my mind, we sat thus silently; but I could not resist glancing backward, despite the orders to the contrary. On doing so, I saw Jack sitting rigid like a statue, with his paddle raised, his lips compressed, and his eye-brows bent over his eyes, which glared savagely from beneath them down into the water. I also saw the shark, to my horror, quite close under the log, in the act of darting towards Jack's foot. I could scarce suppress a cry on beholding this. In another moment the shark rose. Jack drew his leg suddenly from the water, and threw it over the log. The monster's snout rubbed against the log as it passed, and revealed its hideous jaws, into which Jack instantly plunged the paddle, and thrust it down its throat. So violent was the act that Jack rose to his feet in performing it; the log was thereby rolled completely over, and we were once more plunged into the water. We all rose, spluttering and gasping, in a moment.

"Now then, strike out for shore," cried Jack. "Here, Peterkin, catch hold of my collar, and kick out with a will."

Peterkin did as he was desired, and Jack struck out with such force that he cut through the water like a boat; while I, being free from all encumbrance, succeeded in keeping up with him. As we had by this time drawn pretty near to the shore, a few minutes more sufficed to carry us into shallow water; and, finally, we landed in safety, though very much exhausted, and not a little frightened by our terrible adventure.

To get the whole book you can go Here.

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 10:23 AM |

The History of Christianity and Western Civilization Study Guide; Now Avalable!!
November 15, 2010

The History of Christianity and Western Civilization Study Guide project is officially done and in print! This was a project that my dad gave me to write about a month ago. Going along with the video and audio series from the Europe Tour '10, HCWC traces the history of Christianity and the Reformation over the last 2,000 years in Europe. It is always so great to see a project go from beginning to completion! ~Joshua Titus

History of Christianity and Western Civilization Study Guide from Joshua Titus Phillips on Vimeo.

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 03:51 PM |

New Book Review! By Conduct and Courage
January 05, 2010

Calico Zak has just written another review of one of G. A. Henty's books, this time By Conduct and Courage.

A fast paced story, William Gilmore gets captured and escapes (by his conduct and courage) a total of three times, before returning to England decently wealthy, where he marries the girl he saved from pirates, and lives happily ever after to be a very old man with many children.

("Calico Zak" is a Henty/Ballantyne fan who runs this blog.) To read Calico Zak's book review, click here.

If you have written a review of any of Henty's or Ballantyne's books, you can email us at We'd love to see it on the Articles page!

VoD, ~Joshua Titus

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 07:29 PM |

Glory, Duty and the Gold Dome
November 12, 2009

Today we view R. M. Ballantyne's books as historical fiction, because to us, the periods he covers are in the past. However, when he wrote his classics, many of them took place concurrent with his life span. The boys of the Victorian era read about characters who lived at the same time as their own selves, and who experienced great adventures around the world. In my opinion, this aspect is lacking for Christian young men today.

Although there are a few "modern" or recent authors who produce wholesome fiction, most of the worthwhile authors of boys' adventure literature are dead. Am I saying that there's a problem with reading their books? No! However, I do believe that the men of this generation must rise up to take dominion over the literature of today. There are many vitally significant issues in our day which Ballantyne and others never dreamed would occupy our thoughts.

With this said, one Christain author has risen to the challenge. Just a few days ago I had the opportunity to read a newly-released novel called Glory, Duty and the Gold Dome by T. Nathaniel Darnell. This book covers a huge gamut of issues that are pressing today, delivered in an exciting and suspenseful style that would make Ballantyne and Henty proud.


Thomas Richards is not an average fourteen-old boy. He serves as the legislative aide to his father, Representative John Richards, who serves in the Georgia legislature. As a personal assistant, young Thomas handles details for his father and is familiar with the inner-workings of state government. His biggest job at the moment, however, is helping his father in his rapidly approaching election for Congress.

If John Richards can win the electoral race, he could move to Washington D. C., bringing with him the firm Biblical principles needed to govern a solid nation. The prospects are bright, and young Thomas is hopeful about the campaign. This, however, is soon to change when a fateful car accident plunges both into an issue of epic proportions, and life-threatening consequences.

Angela Bauer lives on her own, a sorrowful, bitter young lady, forsaken by her self-serving husband and expecting a child. She is surviving, but just barely, on her cashier's salary. A reckless decision leaves her stranded in an intersection, broadside to oncoming traffic. Unable to stop, another vehicle pounds into her car, smashing glass and bending metal. The shock knocks her senseless, and she sinks into a coma.

The other driver experiences only minor injuries, but as a friend of the family, John Richards races to the hospital to check on the young man's condition, and provide legal counsel to his father. In the same hospital rests Angela, unresponsive and comatose.

Terri Schiavo Terri Schiavo

John and Thomas learn of the girl's condition, and visit her room where they find her delinquent husband demanding life support to be removed! Although the hospital refuses to do so immediately, the issue quickly escalates to the courts in a battle similar to that of Terri Schiavo. A cold-hearted judge rules that she has no "quality of life," and must die in twenty days. It is now that John Richards makes a fateful decision. He must put aside his campaign for Congressional election, and focus his efforts on a different race - a race for Angela and her baby's life.

There are two options before him: either the legislature must vote that the court decision is unconstitutional, or the Governor must rule the same. John and Thomas have twenty days to convince an unwilling legislative body and a wary politician to overrule the previously unchallenged court.

Father and son meet opposition on every side, experiencing death threats, personal assaults, violent protestors, and shadowy villains. Meanwhile, they must discover more about Angela's husband, and what is so mysterious about his job. It's a wild, breath-taking ride with twists and turns on every side, and involves significant moral issues such as abortion, home schooling, governmental corruption, and personal defense.

I could tell you how the story ends, but I won't. You must find out for yourself by purchasing Glory, Duty and the Gold Dome from Vision Forum. I guarantee an unexpected ending!


The above is an overview of the plot, but that's not all that a book involves. The author, T. Nathaniel Darnell, incorporates many book-writing techniques, some tried and true, and some quite fresh and fascinating, to make this tale gripping.

Father and son discipleship is one of the main points of the novel. Throughout the story, Thomas and his father grow closer together, learning about each other. Darnell uses a unique but effective approach of narration, switching back and forth between the first-person narrative of father and son, allowing the reader to explore the intimate thoughts of each character.

The supporting characters are also colorful, producing an added depth to the story. My particular favorite is Clinty, another young legislative aide with a jovial personality and eccentric aspirations. Another is Rachel Richards, who fulfills the role of loving mother and wife.

I must confess that I'm wary of first-time book authors, who may have done well in shorter articles and editorials, but have not previously tackled such a large project. I was pleasantly surprised in this case by the splendid balance of detail, dialogue, and action. It is evident that Darnell has learned from generations of fiction authors, and has implemented their techniques. I give Glory, Duty and the Gold Dome my full support, and urge that everyone who reads this article will read the book.

For the glory of God, and the redemption of literature!

Tutela ex Vulnero,


P. S. It might be helpful to have a quick summary of the above thoughts. If I were asked to write a book recommendation, I would say that Glory, Duty and the Gold Dome is a tale of father and son discipleship, which grapples with key moral issues and is packed with action and suspense."

Posted by John Horn at 08:00 AM |

New Book Review! With Roberts to Pretoria
October 19, 2009

Calico Zak has just written a review of G. A. Henty's book, With Roberts to Pretoria. This is a fascinating tale of the Great Boer War, the same war in which Winston Churchill executed his famous escape from the enemy-held province of Pretoria. (In case you were wondering, "Calico Zak" is the internet identity of a Henty/Ballantyne fan who runs this blog.)

To read Calico Zak's book review, click here. If you have written a review of any of Henty's or Ballantyne's books, please email us. We'd love to see it on the Articles page!

Tutela ex Vulnero,


Posted by John Horn at 10:15 AM |

New Book Review! Hunted and Harried
September 22, 2009

A new book review has just been posted on R. M. Ballantyne's historical novel Hunted and Harried. This is a fascinating story of the persecution against faithful Scottish Covenanters during the late 1600's. One unique aspect about the subject matter is that Ballantyne himself was descended from these immovable Christians, giving him a personal perspective upon the hardships they suffered.

To read Calico Zak's book review, you can click here

Tutela ex Vulnero,


Posted by John Horn at 11:00 AM |

New Book Review! The Betrayal
September 12, 2009

We just posted a book review by Lydia C. of a fantastic new book, The Betrayal. This is a very well written story of a man who lives alongside John Calvin. . . and who is his mortal enemy for the better part of his life.

I really enjoy the Douglas Bond books (he harkens back to the 19th century style), and this one is no exception! I heartily recommend it as a great way to learn about John Calvin, the Reformation, and the 16th century.

To read the book review by Lydia, you can click here.

~Joshua Titus

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 02:36 PM |

Book Review of The Betrayal
September 12, 2009

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 12:41 PM |

New Book Review! The Pioneers & Fast in the Ice
July 18, 2009

I have recently posted a book review by Joshua Horn on two of R.M. Ballantyne's shorter stories; The Pioneers and Fast in the Ice.

The first book, The Pioneers, is the tale of Reuben Guff and his son Lawrence as they travel on voyages of discovery in the northern wilderness of Canada in the 1780s.

The second story in this binding is Fast in the Ice. It tells of a voyage made by Captain Harvey and his nephew Tom Gregory in search for the North Pole. The story tells of how they were protected through all their dangers once they arrive in the Arctic region. An interesting aspect of this book is that it was written long before anyone had actually made it to the North Pole, and so Ballentyne has a lot of very interesting pre- 20th century conjecture.

To read the book review by Joshua Horn, you can click here. -JT

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 04:50 PM |

Book Review of Condemned as a Nihilist
July 18, 2009

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 04:44 PM |

New Book Review! Condemned as a Nihilist
July 17, 2009

Another new book review is up. This time on G.A.Henty's book Condemned as a Nihilist.

Condemned as a Nihilist is the exciting story of Godfrey Bullen. At age sixteen adventure is rapidly approaching young Godfrey as his father informs him that he would like Godfrey to travel to St. Petersburg, Russia. Godfrey had lived there for ten years, so it was not as if he was going to a completely strange place. He takes the next two months to brush up on his Russian, spend a bit o' time with his family, and work on his penmanship. And than he's off!

To read the book review by Kaitland Conley, you can click here. -JT

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 11:24 PM |

New Book Review! In The Heart of The Rockies
June 05, 2009

A new book review has been posted about G.A. Henty's In The Heart of The Rockies. This Henty book tells of the adventures of sixteen-year-old Tom Wade as he explores the Rockies of North America. This is another great historical/geographical novel by the prince of storytellers. To read the book review by Brandon Smith, you can click here.

Joshua Titus

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 03:40 PM |

New Book Review of The Norsemen In The West
April 24, 2009

Huzzah! A new book review has been posted on The Norsemen in The West. In this story Ballantyne paints a very interesting description of what The Vikings may have experienced during their first years in "Vinland." To read the book review by Dakota Grady you can click here.

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 02:41 PM |

February 06, 2009

Redskin and Cowboy: A Tale of the Western Plains

Living in Texas it is not surprising that I have always been interesting in the history of Americas west. This book is a great way to begin learning about the Wild West." Here is a short bio of the book.

This book centers around a young English chap--Hugh Tunstall, adventuring in the American West. Hugh's experiences during a "roundup" presents in picturesque form the toilsome, exciting, adventurous life of a cowboy; while the perils of a frontier settlement are vividly set forth in an Indian raid, accompanied by pillage, capture, and recapture. Young Tunstall goes through many more challenging adventures including fighting with gun men, battles with Indians, and learns first hand the ins and outs of life in the "wild west".

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 12:12 PM |

February 06, 2009

Colonel Thorndyke's Secret

I have enjoyed reading more than 94 Henty books at this point in my life. The vast majority of them are outstanding. Some are better than others. Colonel Thorndyke's Secret is an example of Henty's literary style at its best. From beginning to end, the book is compelling. The characters are fascinating. The story line is believable and engaging. But for a few comments in the book that I felt were not up to snuff from a Christian worldview perspective, the majority of the story---with its mysteries, and emphasis on the qualities and interesting relationships of the main characters made it a first-rate read. Here is a short bio I wrote for it making sure that I did not give away to much of its exciting mystery!

Colonel Thorndyke had tried to save a fellow soldier from being stabbed to death while in India. As the soldier begins to die he gives Thorndyke a diamond bracelet for which he had been attacked. A mystery surrounds this bracelet. After 12 years, Thorndyke returns to England with the jewel, a little daughter, and a servant, Ramoo. As he dies, he hands off the bracelet to his brother and thus begins a great mystery!

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 12:10 PM |

February 06, 2009

There are a total of eight new books you can get as part of this years Henty collection. I recommend you get them all! The titles to all eight are;

A Chapter of Adventures
Colonel Thorndyke's Secret
The Cornet of Horse
In Greek Waters
John Hawk's Fortune
The Plague Ship
Redskin and Cowboy
With Roberts to Pretoria

There is a special add-on: The first one hundred customers to purchase our new eight-volume Henty set will get as a special gift the new CDs "Henty Live!: Volume One" Taped on live radio in San Antonio, Texas. These are two episodes of the weekly interviews that I did on KSLR with talk show host Adam McManus and Mr. Bill Potter of The second show also has Noah Botkin on the interview, a good friend and fellow Henty reader. Noah has also done articles and posts for

I hope you all will get the eight new Henty books and if you need another reason to read Henty read my article A Few Thoughts on G.A. Henty.

"Victory or Death!" And "Alba Gu Bra!"
Joshua Titus

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 12:09 PM |

New Book Review: Fighting the Flames
October 15, 2008

I just put up a new book review on the book Fighting the Flames: A Tale of the London Fire Brigade. In this story Ballantyne explains what a life of adventure you can have when you are working around the clock to save London from one of its biggest fears; Fire! To read the book review by Matthew Wells you can click here.

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 10:05 AM |

Under Drakes Flag
October 08, 2008

One of my favorite Henty books is Under Drakes Flag. This book has a great mixture of history and fast paced adventure. The main character, Ned Hearne, also known as "the otter," experiences a number of fascinating adventures as he escapes the dons and the Inquisition, travels across South America, and fights in furious sea battles!

Furthermore, I find that the illustrations by Gordon Browne are superb! I appreciate the way he catches the attitudes of the characters and the tone of the scene.

"The Barricade."

"Silver Enough to Make Us All Rich" The sack of the town Nombre de Dios by Drake and his men.

"A Race for Life."

"A Moment of Peril!"

I love this image. I think that this woodcut captures the spirit of the Henty boy: someone who takes command and becomes "master of the situation."

"Ned and Tom become Masters of the Situation."

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 11:01 AM |

2008 Essay Contest Winners
August 05, 2008

Congratulations to the new 2008 essay contest winners! The topic of this year's essay was: "What twenty-first century boys and girls can learn about duty, honor, and courage from the writings of R.M. Ballantyne."

Out of the many fine essays submitted, the judges have selected three which stand above the rest. The grand prize winner will receive $500 cash. Second and third place winners will receive $250 and $100 Vision Forum gift certificates respectively.

The Foundation of Virtue

<center>Matthew Wells</center>
Matthew Wells
The grand prize goes to Matthew Wells' outstanding essay, "The Foundation of Virtue". Matthew's essay is notable for its clarity in communicating Ballantyne's heart to inspire in 19th and now 21st century readers the Christian qualities of duty, honor, and courage. He does a great job of articulating the standard by which these virtues must be measured. Read his essay here.

What Today's Boys and Girls can Learn from the Writings of R. M. Ballantyne

<center>Joshua Horn</center>
Joshua Horn
In second we have Joshua Horn's essay entitled, "What Today's Boys and Girls can Learn from the Writings of R. M. Ballantyne". Joshua explains Ballantyne's overarching desire for his characters to honor God foremost in everything they do. Click here for his essay.

R.M. Ballantyne, A Hero for Heroes in the 21st Century

<center>Gehrig Nelson</center>
Gehrig Nelson
Gehrig Nelson's "R.M. Ballantyne, A Hero for Heroes in the 21st Century" offers some really perceptive insights into the nature of true courage and how godly character is under attack in our day. Read Gehrig's essay here.

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 06:16 PM |

Book Review of Gascoyne
June 17, 2008

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 05:03 PM |

My First Two Ballantyne Books
May 16, 2008

R.M. Ballantyne and his brother John in the uniform of the Edinburgh Volunteer Corpes, 1859. R.M. Ballantyne and his brother John in the uniform of the Edinburgh Volunteer Corpes, 1859.
In 2002 I was attending a homeschool conference with my father who was a speaker at the event. At the time I was nine and a half years old and was serving as my father's assistant. After Dad had finished his keynote presentation, he took me on a walk of the vendor hall. Walking the vendor hall was one of my favorite things to do because it meant I could look for old books. (Dad raised me to be a bibliophile with a passion for antiquarian books!) Because I had been coming with Dad to these conferences for years, and had spent many hours visiting with book vendors, most of the "old book" vendors knew me by name.

As we were going from one vendor to the next Dad and I would always ask to see their selection of 19th century Christian boys literature like the works of G.A.Henty ( with whom I was very familiar at that time). On this occasion I stopped at the table of one vendor and asked the lady who operated the table about her Henty books. She replied, and then asked me I had ever "heard of an author by the name of Ballantyne?"

I certainly never imagined then how important that question was to become for my literary diet. At the time I was completely unfamiliar with Ballantyne. But as she began to explain the power of Ballantyne's stories, and the reason why Christian boys should love them, I became intrigued. She the apologized that she only had two Ballantyne books left.

We looked the books over and I asked Dad if he would be willing to add these to our pile. Dad said he would but I needed to promise him that I would read them. I immediately said that I would. Dad purchased for me my first two Ballantyne---The Coral Island and Martin Rattler. These two are still among my ten favorites. As to the Coral Island, it is not only Ballantyne's most popular book, it is my top recommendation for an introduction into the world of R.M. Ballantyne.

(Above is an image of R.M. Ballantyne and his brother John in the uniform of the Edinburgh Volunteer Corpes, 1859.)

Posted by Joshua Phillips at 11:42 AM |

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