A book review for parents
This fantasy book is the first in the "Aedyn Chronicles" series by Alister McGrath and is published by Zonderkidz, a division of Zondervan Publishers.
Chosen Ones is written for kids ages 9 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.
While visiting London during a school break, siblings Julia and Peter discover a hidden garden in their grandparents' backyard. One night they are drawn to a pool in the garden and step into it. The children find it's a portal to another world, and they are transported to the strange land of Aedyn. An aged monk tells them that he called them there to help fulfill a prophecy. Hundreds of years previously, three evil lords — the Jackal, the Leopard and the Wolf — overthrew the beneficent ruler Marcus and began ruthlessly oppressing the citizens and enslaving those who refused to obey the new rulers.
Upon hearing the monk's story, Julia and Peter travel through the woods to the castle where the evil Lords of Aedyn reside. They arrive and pretend to be on the island as a result of a shipwreck. Peter is carrying a small bag of gunpowder in his pocket, and in an attempt to show off, he throws a smidgen of it on a candle flame. The explosion scares and then impresses the overlords, who determine they must pry the secret of this magical powder out of Peter. The overlords imprison Julia and threaten her life, which persuades Peter to make a deal with them. When they still don't free Julia, Peter directs them to make cannons of clay. The cannons are tested, and they explode, providing Peter a chance to escape. Slaves break Julia out of prison, and she and Peter are reunited. The siblings then lead the slaves in a revolt against the Lords of Aedyn. The uprising is successful. Soon after, Peter and Julia wake up back in their garden in London, where their grandmother finds them asleep and shivering in the cold of the night.
Chosen Ones is a simple fable depicting good vs. evil. Neither Julia nor Peter is Christian, but they learn about the Lord of Hosts (who represents God) while in Aedyn. It's implied at the end of the story that the teenagers pledge to live for Him. Before returning to London, they are told that their work in Aedyn will help pave the way for the Anointed One, who represents Jesus.
The story focuses solely on Peter and Julia, who find themselves essentially on their own in Aedyn, where most of the story takes place. Though they're only 14 and 13 years old, Julia in particular seems more mature in the new world, and the youngsters take on the authority roles themselves in this land. An aged monk calls and guides the children into a prophecy. The three evil lords — the Jackal, the Leopard and the Wolf — ruthlessly oppress and enslave those who refuse to obey them.
Other Belief Systems
Julia punches Peter in the face. Clay cannons explode when fired, injuring five guards, burning one beyond recognition and killing another. The men on horses use their swords to kill the guards that were left alive by the exploding cannons. During the final battle scene, arrows kill several of the castle guards.
If your children have read this book or someone has read it to them, consider these discussion topics:
- Peter lies to Julia's captors in an attempt to save her life.
Is lying OK in this type of a situation?
Can you think of a situation you might find yourself when lying would be the appropriate thing to do, or is it never appropriate?
What does the Bible say about lying?
- What does Julia overhear?
What is her assumption about Peter after hearing just part of a conversation he has with the evil overlords?
How does she initially feel?
What does she learn about Peter's motives?
Why is it important to get the whole story before making judgments about what a person says or does?
Why is it important not to eavesdrop?
- Who calls Peter and Julia to Aedyn?
Why does the monk call them to Aedyn?
Are they a part of the prophecy?
- How does God call Christians to live?
Does He call some Christians to do certain things and other Christians to do different things? Explain.
- How do Peter and Julia react differently?
Why do you think Julia wanted to serve the enslaved people of Aedyn?
Why do you think Peter wanted to become a powerful prince?
How do Peter and Julia keep or change their individual perspectives?
- What kind of attitude should Christians have according to Matthew 20:25-26?
Which one of the children in the story exemplifies this idea?
- What do Peter and Julia do to free the slaves in Aedyn?
How do their actions help prepare the way for the Chosen One?
Did they do all of this to prepare for the Chosen One?
Does God use people to bring about His plans on earth whether they are aware of it or not?
Do you feel like God has used you for someone else's good?
Deception – The children lie about being shipwrecked and deceive the overlords.
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.