This medieval fantasy book is the second in the "Knights of Arrethtrae" series by Chuck Black and is published by Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court is written for kids ages 10 to 14. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
In the kingdom of Arrethtrae, young Bentley of Chessington is knighted into the brotherhood of the Noble Knights. He soon finds himself faced with a difficult choice: His superior, Sir York, orders him to kill two Followers, men who have committed no crime other than believing that the Prince is the King's Son. Bentley refuses, feeling in his heart it's the wrong thing to do. Because he doesn’t kill them, Bentley must give up his life as a knight. He travels far away to the land of Holbrook, with the help of Follower Sir Demus. There he lives as a pauper among the downtrodden.
Bentley is intrigued by and befriends a young woman named Eirwyn, who hands out food to the poor. He eventually discovers she is the daughter of Lord Kingsley, the man who rules Holbrook with an iron fist. Eirwyn is kidnapped, and Bentley tracks the ruthless gang that intends to sacrifice her to a huge lake dragon. Bentley rescues Eirwyn and kills the beast.
Upon their return to Holbrook, Bentley and Eirwyn discover that the Dark Knight and his Shadow Warriors are set to attack Holbrook Castle and take over the kingdom. Bentley, Eirwyn, and an army of Silent Warriors and Knights of the Prince defeat the evil marauders. Bentley and Eirwyn eventually marry and rule over Holbrook for many years, teaching the people about the Prince and His ways.
In this Christian allegory, the King who rules the Kingdom Across the Sea represents God in heaven, and the Prince, His Son sent to Arrethtrae, is Jesus. The Noble Knights are similar to the Jews in the Bible — God’s Chosen people, but they do not believe the Prince is God's son. In a flashback, it's mentioned that Lucius, one of the King's Silent Warriors (angels), attempted to overthrow the Kingdom and was cast out of it. He and his minions have gone to Arrethtrae (earth) to wreak havoc and war against those who believe in the Prince.
Sir Bentley loves and respects his parents, Sir Barrington and Lady Deonne. Bentley is trained and mentored by Sir York, a man he eventually disobeys because Bentley has heard the still, small voice of the King in his heart. After fleeing to Holbrook, Bentley is mentored and discipled by Sir Demus, a man who represents an older, mature Christian.
Other Belief Systems
Sir Bentley and Holbrook Court is action-packed and filled with violent scenes throughout the book. Most of them are sword fights. Sir Demus describes to Bentley how the Noble Knights arrested him, cut off his thumbs and beat him. Bentley uses his sword to kill two of the men who kidnapped Eirwyn. Two Shadow Warriors bludgeon Bentley's friend Walsch until blood flows down his face. Several townspeople are killed during a frightening scene in which Bentley almost drowns attempting to save Eirwyn from the dragon. Bentley and Eirwyn are dragged underwater as the dragon swims back to its lair where it dies. Bentley is hung by a rope around his neck on a tree by Shadow Warriors and left to die. Several warriors are killed and wounded during a climactic battle scene. Eirwyn's twin sister is thrown out a window to her death. Her body hits the marble floor, and blood pools from the back of her head. Bentley, while fighting an Ashen Knight on horseback, receives a sword wound in his side and then kills his enemy with his own sword.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Who does the King from the Kingdom Across the Sea represent?
Who does the Prince represent?
Why are the followers persecuted for believing in the Prince?
- Bentley spends time among the poor and needy.
How does this change his perspective?
Why is it important for Christians to be compassionate toward the poor and needy?
- What choice must Bentley make when he realizes the truth about the King's words?
What sacrifices must he make to follow the Prince?
Why must he give up his life as a knight?
How is this like following Jesus Christ?
Do Christians have to give up anything to follow Christ?
- Bentley is mentored by Sir Demus.
Why is it important for believers to be mentored by wise and mature Christians?
What have you learned about God and the Christian life from older, more mature Christians?
- In this fantasy book, the characters face many battles.
How are these struggles similar to ones that Christians face living in this world?
How does God equip you to face these struggles?
How does knowing the Bible help you deal with obstacles you face?
Book reviews cover the content, themes and worldviews of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.