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An Uncommon Crusade Paperback – January 4, 2011
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Almost everyone in the club agreed that the book began with much detailed information and many characters leaving the reader a little confused and most of us thought we had picked a book that would be difficult to get through. However, we all also agreed that once we really got into the story we became invested in the three main character's journeys and wanted to complete the book to discover how each life would turn out. Part way through the story the three main characters get separated and each one has a completely different experience. Each experience is life changing and leads the characters to question their original thoughts about religion and come to a greater appreciation of the real meaning of religion in their lives.
I personally liked the book because it reaffirmed for me the true basis for my religious feelings about my Catholic faith. In real life as in the book so many times the decisions made by the leaders in the church do not really reflect the true teachings of our religion. This conflict leads to many people losing faith. But if we can question these decisions and see them as human faults and not as defects in our religion we can put them in the correct perspective and lay fault where it should be, on the heads of the leaders rather than on the religion itself. I felt the true meaning of this book was to lead the reader to evaluate religion in their lives the way the characters in the story came to grips with their religious beliefs.
This book was thought provoking and a good read for anyone even if relgion is not a big part of your life.
Another thing most people don't know is the extent to which Europeans (and Americans for a few decades) were sold into slavery in Muslim lands. Some survived and flourished in their slavery, and some were further traumatized. The author vividly shows what life was like for some of the European slaves.
There were many things to like about this book. The writing is clear, the writer has done her research, and the characters are fairly believable. As could be expected for a story set in the Children's Crusade, a lot of the events are depressing, and yet hope in a Good God shines through this story of a variety of people who joined the Crusade with varying motives. If you like historical fiction that is realistic and some romance thrown in, you should like the story of these survivors.
I especially loved the first part in which the children travel across Europe to reach the Mediterranean Sea. Guillo's characters are well drawn and the dialogue very natural. I found myself unable to put the book down at times because I was so concerned about what would happen next to the characters I'd come to love.
I liked in the second part of the story how Guillo seemed to draw on familiar biblical themes such as Joseph's enslavement in Egypt and the literal and spiritual redemption of slaves. I found some of the religious matter in this section a bit forced, especially the protestant theology Simon preached, which seemed out of place in this time period and in this place. However, this particular legend is a good way to highight some of the problems with Christian theology and practice that may have led to the Protestant Reformation.
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