If you’re passionate about Christian history, and need a reminder of what death and persecution truly means the Christian, you want to read this book. Following a mix of fictional and historical characters — mostly Scottish Covenanters during the killing-time — Ballantyne ably portrays gruesome, heart-rending events while weaving several intense plots into one cohesive, powerful story.
While it starts a bit on the slow side, things pick up as you warm to Ballantyne’s writing style, and the endearing, though grim, historical setting. As things get going, the pages will turn faster, though the weight of the content may still only allow so much to be read at a time.
My one complaint as far as writing goes would be this—I still don’t know some of what the apparently less-educated characters were saying. With a reasonable amount of consistency, Ballantyne writes in several alternate spellings to portray the dialect used by certain characters. I was eventually able to get past the awkward spelling, and even start to understand what was being said—but it always slowed me down and made me think hard to decipher. Though when it was less of a nuisance it did add a flare of authenticity to the story as a whole, making it worth pushing through.
When put in the balance with passages of this sort, however, dialect hardly affected my enjoyment, and awe, at the narrative:
“It was a woeful sight in one sense, for it was the murder of a fair and goodly as well as godly man in the prime of life; yet it was a grand sight, inasmuch as it was a noble witnessing unto death for God and truth and justice in the face of prejudice, passion, and high-handed tyranny.”
How’s that for perspective on the merciless persecution of the saints?
If you pick up this book, know that it will not be an easy, or particularly relaxing read. It will challenge you, Christian or not, and it will show you what death truly is for the Christian: a release from a sin-stained world, and the final phase in his journey to his Savior’s embrace.
Published on 3 October, 2015. Last updated on