The Merciful Eye is a collection of four stories from
the Middle Ages, mostly the 1500s. Each story contains references
to historical events, but the characters and story lines are fictitious.
The stories portray with accuracy the culture, belief system, lifestyle,
worldview, and times of those living during this period. After
reading these stories, the reader has entered the world of castles,
chivalry, treachery, indulgences, honor, and corruption and has
come out finding redemption. The stories depict characters struggling
with the "way things were" and finding the redemptive power of
the Gospel--often through their coming in contact with the ideologies
and heroes of the Reformation or martyrs of the faith. These are
not pat Christian stories, however, with easy, predictable Christian
fiction story lines. They are powerful images of God's propensity
to make all things new.
In the first story, "The Merciful Eye," a selfish aspiring printer
leaves a path of heartache in his quest for material gain. Through
the death of his first wife and the unexpected love he later found
in her sister, the layers of his heart are gradually peeled back
to reveal the true ugliness within. Through the quest of his wife,
as she struggles to redeem her dead sister's soul from Purgatory
and unexpectedly uncovers the blatant corruption of the church,
and through risky encounters with the Huguenots in Paris, they
find true freedom in Christ.
In "Walk Only with the Virtuous," a wealthy count loses his beloved
wife in childbirth while delivering a hunchbacked son. His rejection
of the son starts the boy on a painful journey of discovering his
true worth and forgiveness.
In "From Dead Works" a young woman and her servants, returning
from a pilgrimage to Rome in an effort to free her dead mother
from Purgatory, encounter danger, intrigue, deception, and trouble.
Helped by a mysterious stranger, they hear the message of the Gospel
and find true freedom.
In "A Heart that Always Feels the Blood," two very different brothers
live out their commitment to their country in different ways, yet
in a unified front. An eventual imprisonment following a revolt
against a corrupt king places their lives, and the life of a young
woman they both hold dear, in certain peril. Their lives are spared
through an unknown ultimate sacrifice. Yet upon gaining their freedom,
it appears that the life of one of them is over. Redemption comes
as a heart surrenders to God's call.
These stories are riveting and intense. The Middle Ages, in all
their gore and glory, are truly not for the faint of heart. The
book is recommended for students over 13 years of age, and I would
concur with that recommendation. The last story in particular is
not graphic, but it does contain ideas that would not be appropriate
for younger children. For any middle or high school student studying
the Middle Ages, this book offers fabulous insights to the time
period, and all with a redemptive message. I was riveted by the
stories and can't wait to let my teenagers read them.