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review 2017-03-11 20:45
A Bold One for God
A Bold One for God - Charles G. Edwards

Although he did not begin the Reformation in Scotland, John Knox has become its most identifiable proponent not only in the almost 450 years since his death but also during the last 25 years of his life.  In A Bold One for God, Charles G. Edwards writes a brief 160 page biography of “a not-so-well-known reformer” that served not only God but his nation as well.

 

Edwards’ biography of Knox begins in his early 30s after his conversion to Protestantism and his interactions with martyr George Wishart and how the influential preacher told him to remain a tutor to his pupils until God needed him.  In the reaction after Wishart’s execution, Knox was asked to preach by Wishart’s followers to lead their congregation after they had assassinated the Cardinal of St. Andrews.  His accepts and his powerful preaching began his rise as a man of note in the Reformation movement in Scotland while also resulting in his imprisonment after the movement is crushed for a time.  Over the course of the next 12 years, Knox serves as a galley slave before living in exile in England then Geneva and Frankfurt then back to Geneva with a brief visit to Scotland in-between.  In 1559, Knox returned to Scotland permanently and became a not only the leading Protestant preacher in the nation but also one with significant political power as he contended with the queen regent Mary of Guise then her daughter Mary, Queen of Scots, and then under the regents of the young James VI.

 

In the synopsis above, I have hardly scratched the surface of John Knox’s life and career.  Unfortunately Charles Edwards did the same in this short biography as well.  Although his intended audience is easy identifiable for young adults through his writing style and larger font, Edwards doesn’t treat his audience with respect by crediting them with any intelligence and made his subject less than what he was.  Through reconstructed conversations and paraphrasing of others, Edwards endeavored to give Knox’s life more depth but only made the man appear simple and artificial to the reader which seemed to indicate a condescending attitude towards his readers.

 

While Edwards does give an accurate picture of the chronology and historical background of John Knox’s life that does not make up for the lack of depth and unintended sterilization of his subject.  The lack of discussion of Knox’s first 30 years of life and the, most likely unintentional, patronizing attitude towards his readers severely undercuts the worth of A Bold One for God.

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review 1982-08-19 00:00
The Days of Bruce : a story from Scottish history
The Days of Bruce : a story from Scottis... The Days of Bruce : a story from Scottish history - Grace Aguilar [These notes were made in 1982. I read this title in a 1905 edition, illustrated by H.M. Brock, from University of Calgary library:]. A very romantic look at a period of Scots history which never struck me as particularly romantic, albeit it's bang in the Middle Ages. This novel suffers from a "double hero" syndrome - the one we learn to identify with is summarily dispatched half way through, and an earlier candidate is brought back as a rather predictable knight in disguise. Necessarily, then, we also have two heroines, the earlier of whom, Agnes, is quite well-drawn, and the latter of whom, Isoline, gets very short shrift indeed until the last few chapters. The story is carefully not completely anti-English (what nationality is Aguilar, anyhow?): the Duke of Gloucester and his wife are particularly flatteringly portrayed. It makes a good romantic read; a good tale of "chivalry in the olden days", but somehow this version of the Robert the Bruce I learned about in school is too soft in the middle, too mannerly, too full of finer feelings. Hero, yes, but knight in shining armour? As for Nigel the hero of the first half (ostensibly R.B.'s brother), he has nothing to do with common mortals at all. But for all my negative comments, I enjoyed this book tremendously; it had some good, sentimental moments in it, was well-shaped within the limitations imposed by the 2-hero rift, and was altogether superior, I thought, to a great many of today's historical novels.
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