If you’re familiar with the Valiant Hearts Series by Dina L. Sleiman, then you know that children play a big part in her books. The last installment in this series, Courageous, takes that to a whole new level with a group of kids who take part in a crusade to the Holy Land in the Middle Ages to set captives free in the country of Tripoli (modern day Lebanon). The main characters were Young Lady Sapphira, Rosalind of Ipsworth and Sir Randel Penigree; along with a few names you might remember from the first and second books.
Though I have read Christian Fiction set during the Crusades, I had never read a novel that specifically dealt with a Children’s Crusade. Sleiman did a great job portraying the pros and cons of the Crusades through the eyes of a much younger audience and skillfully told a story that was both believable and relevant. There were heavy moments in the novel, but there was also a lot of adventure and scenes that kept you on the edge of your seat.
Since Courageous is technically a YA novel, you would expect there to be a deep theme about modern day issues. And there is! This story deals with abortion, and I was very impressed with how the author approached this tough topic. There are two sides to every abortion story – the one that has already chosen that path and the one who hasn’t yet, but might. I felt that Courageous was written to be sensitive to both audiences. I felt someone could read this novel and find help, forgiveness and freedom from guilt, instead of condemnation. Yet, it was tragic enough that someone from the second group would hopefully find the strength to not take the same path.
The author was brilliant at keeping the antagonist a secret till the end. I kept wanting to shout, “Danger! Danger!” to the other characters whenever this person had a spot on the page. Not only did the mysterious viewpoint keep me on the edge of my seat – I was completely surprised when the villain was revealed!
Conclusion: I loved Courageous! It was the perfect way to conclude the Valiant Hearts Series. The story was sooo original and beautifully written, I didn’t want it to end. It’s a story of forgiveness and adventure during the crusades. If you enjoy reading novels set in the medieval period with a deep theme and action, this is your book! This was also my book for the country of Lebanon in the “Around The World In 80 Books” reading challenge.