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The Betrayal: A Novel on John Calvin Paperback – June 1, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Anything Doug Bond writes is, almost now by definition, a fascinating read. But to have his skills attached to the life of John Calvin is a double treat." --Joel Belz, founder, WORLD magazine

"If you enjoy reading the fictional works of C. S. Lewis, you will love this book." --Burk Parsons, editor, Tabletalk magazine

"An exciting read, almost effortlessly and implicitly undoing caricatures about Calvin along the way . . . Calvin and his times brought to life in a page-turner!" --Joel R. Beeke, president, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary

About the Author

Douglas Bond, author of nearly twenty books for young people and adults, lives

with his wife and six children in Washington State. He is a ruling elder in the

Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), teaches English and history at Covenant

High School, and was awarded the regional Teacher Award for teaching young

people how to write. He lectures on literature and church history and leads study tours in Europe.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 383 pages
  • Publisher: P & R Publishing (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596381256
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596381254
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #558,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Tim Challies TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 23, 2009
Format: Paperback
I wonder what Calvin would have said, what he would have thought, if he could have peered five centuries into the future and seen how he would be honored on the five hundredth anniversary of his birth. Several new biographies; a long list of conferences; books discussing every aspect, every facet of his theology; a bobblehead; and now The Betrayal, a novel that recounts his life as historical fiction.

The Betrayal, published by P&R Publishing, comes from the pen of Douglas Bond who has written several historical fiction novels in the past. In this new book, he writes from the perspective of a lifelong sworn enemy of Calvin--a boy who grows up in the same town and who, as a man, remains involved with Calvin's life to the very end. As the publisher says, "This fast-paced biographical novel is a tale of envy that escalates to violent intrigue and shameless betrayal." I hesitate to say too much about the plot lest I inadvertently ruin it for those who would like to read the book. Perhaps there is value, then, in simply sharing a few of the endorsements for it.

Burk Parsons, editor of John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, Doxology says, "With masterful insight, Douglas Bond offers us an illuminating portrait of the life, ministry, and theology of John Calvin. For readers of all ages, this well-researched, historical fiction takes us back to the sixteenth-century Reformation as if we were eye-witnesses of all that God accomplished in and through the life of His humble servant John Calvin. If you enjoy reading the fictional works of C. S. Lewis, you will love this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Okay, I'm a sucker for a good cover, and this book has a great one. It intrigued me from the start. When I found out that it would be a historical fiction of the life of John Calvin, I had to pick up this book.

The writing in this book is a strange mixture of Les Miserable and Frankenstein. And much like those two books, it's hard to get involved with the characters until you are thoroughly soaked in the action of the story rather than the characters themselves.

I am not a historical fiction fan. I am a character-driven novel fan. It's the characters that I care about: not the plot or even the events. This is an event driven novel. One that centers around the places and actions, rather than the characters themselves. Consequently, I was dragging though the boring details that were trying to set the scene, while the characters remained flat and lifeless. I did not care about them, so I could hardly care about what happened to them.

What I liked: The author did an beautiful job of transcribing and detailing the words of Calvin, himself, and making his genius shine through.

What I didn't like: too much boring detail with scene setting, and at times the novel was jarring in its pov switches.

Overall, It is a pretty good novel, but I still don't know that I would describe it as fast-paced or gripping. I recieved a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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Format: Paperback
Released last year for the 500th anniversary of John Calvin's birth, Douglas Bond has written The Betrayal as a sort of novelized version of an introduction to Calvin. The story is not told through Calvin's eyes, but rather through the fictional character Jean-Louise, Calvin's personal servant. What makes the plot interesting is that Jean-Louise secretly works for the Crown, denouncing those fledgling Protestants who come and meet with Calvin. Many go to the stake through Jean-Louise's efforts, leaving him rejoicing and Calvin mourning as Calvin's friends are consumed.

In a lot of ways, this book doesn't know if it wants to be a novel or a theology manual. Bond undertook a difficult task in trying to novelize Calvin's life, as he is a man remembered not primarily remembered for some heroic deed, but rather for what he said and thought. Unlike figures such as Churchill, Washington or Patton who are remembered as great statesmen or military generals, Calvin's main impact on history was through his Institutes of the Christian Religion.

As a theology book, The Betrayal does serve to give the reader a broad overview of the issues surrounding the Reformation. The first half of the book spends a great deal of time illuminating the spiritual darkness and corruption that gripped the Roman Catholic Church. Bond chooses three doctrinal distinctives of the reformation (the sufficiency of Scripture, the sacraments, and predestination/free-will) and deeply explores Calvin's thoughts of the matter. Most of the words spoken by Calvin in the novel are drawn from his writing in the Institutes.

As a novel, this book is difficult to adjust to stylistically.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story is told by a chronicler, who attends early school with John Calvin – French theologian and pastor during the Protestant Reformation in the early 16th century. The venom of his voice and his actions are very clear.

The author’s writing is brilliant in every aspect, the word choice and tone; the story reflecting the “iron self-disciplined” character; and the atmosphere of painful reality of the 16th century Paris’ burnings of those who dared to question clergymen. This historical fiction is “set in the times and places when and where John Calvin lived and worked. Though it is fiction, the reader may accept Calvin’s words in dialogues, sermons, discussions, and debates with confidence.”

Young Calvin displays brilliance from early school years. He is the envy of his schoolmates. His knowledge is far above his age, and what seems ahead his time. It comes across as from another world. From early on, he isn’t afraid to speak up or ask what isn’t supposed to be questioned.

The chronicler’s envy of Calvin’s brilliance makes him develop uncanny ability to be invisible and follow Calvin’s each move until arrival in Paris, where he becomes visible, simply by approaching Calvin and asking him for “honor of attending upon him.”

In Paris, while Calvin studies for priesthood at Sorbonne, two events occur: Calvin hears of Martin Luther and chronicler overhears about spies of the Sorbonne commissioned by priests and doctors. Two men with two different goals lead to the Betrayal, which has an unexpected twist.
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