6 Feb 2016

Rising To The Challenge- Alicia Willis

Comrades of Honor Series #3 
Seasons of His-Story Publishing 
Kindle Edition, 352 Pages, January 20th 2015 
New difficulties arise for Sir Kenneth Dale in the exciting final installment in The Comrades of Honor Series. As a favorite of the Earl of Birmingham, his life appears tranquil – until the both beautiful Lady Clarissa and a headstrong orphan named Brion arrive in the castle. It is not long before Sir Kenneth finds himself not only in love, but also the master of the most difficult squire Birmingham has ever harbored.

Brion de Lantenac is nothing short of rebellious. Hatred for Sir Kenneth’s strict rules vents itself in constant disobedience, triggering continual clashes between himself and his new lord. But there is a reason behind his self-centered character. The murder of his family has caused heartbreak he may never recover from. Will he ever reveal his true identity to Sir Kenneth? And what about Guthrie, the man who sullied his father’s shire with treacherous hands and now seeks his demise?

Caught between a hopeless romance, a rebellious squire, and the enemies on all sides, Sir Kenneth finds himself challenged. Amidst battles, heartache, and dark mystery, he must somehow rise to meet the difficulties of his life with honor. Will he ever win his squire’s heart? Will he and Clarissa be forever separated?

Join Sir Kenneth, Brion, and all the comrades of honor in a tale of perseverance, chivalry, and unconditional love. Treachery abounds and evil seems insurmountable. Will rising to the challenge preserve honor and win the day?
If you want a sweet, clean, wholesome Medieval adventure series, Alicia Willis' trilogy is a great choice. Emulating the style of the Victorian and early 20th century writers such as Howard Pyle and G.A.Henty, the 'Comrades of Honor' trilogy is full of adventure, courage and heroism- but despite the emphasis on knights and their escapades, is not entirely 'masculine' in tone or emphasis.
There are usually romantic elements involved, and some female leads who can be strong and feisty without being overly militant or espousing modern feminist ideals that would be at odds with the setting (no griping about 'repression' or 'sexism' when they can't do what they want here).

'Rising the to the Challenge' was the last book in the series, and although it pays to read the first two books, each title is a self-contained story that can be read and appreciated by itself. Those who have read the previous titles will be re-united with some beloved characters from the other stories (Sir Kenneth, Sir Brandon and others), as well as some alluring and endearing new ones, with challenges and problems to face, and another dangerous foe to grapple with.

The author is a self-professed historian, and these books are usually rich in authentic details of the age, especially those relating to the ceremonies, expectations and lifestyle of Medieval Knights and knighthood. I only had few problems with the period details- one being the mention of a torture chamber, the other to a knight saying he could force a Lady to marry him without her consent. Seeing as Medieval canon law stated marriage without free consent was illegal, it struck me as a bit inaccurate, as did the former.
Also, I did seem implausible that nobles could go around committing acts like the villains sometimes do in this series, without some kind of intervention from the King or Parliament, who were meant to keep the nobility in check.

However, these did not really detract from the story, or the reader's enjoyment of it, and balancing it out is some solid research and an otherwise good sense of the time.
Overall, 'Rising to the Challenge' is wonderfully pleasurable and satisfying read, with some solid Christian themes that do not come across as preachy or contrived, but fit in well with the period setting.
Suitable for teen-adult (younger children might find the language and writing style a bit obscure, and there is some violence, but nothing graphic).

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