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The Victor (novel and lesson plan) Review by Krystin Corneilson

By Marlayne Giron
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064

Castles, knights, and kings. Drama, intrigue, and betrayal. Good vs. evil. Right and wrong. Choices and consequences. All of these tantalizing tidbits and more are expertly woven into The Victor, a riveting allegory of the greatest love story of all time.

From the first page of the prologue, author Marlayne Giron quickly draws the reader into the medieval tale, making this a hard book to put down! There's Baron Lucius, who used to be King Eloth's trusted steward but is now a traitor, a power-hungry manipulator who wants possession of Ephlal, a mysterious and powerful sword that belongs to the king. Lucius will stop at nothing to obtain it, including the disposal of the lives of men who inexplicably serve him. Though saddened and disappointed at the betrayal, the king wants Lucius and his men brought back to him alive by his elite guard. The king's seraphim don't understand their orders, but they carry them out anyway--in a way that they hope will humiliate Lucius.

Presented to the king in the court to be judged, Lucius is unrepentant, and the spectators are giddy as they are sure that he will be found guilty and condemned to a painful death. However, Eloth does something kingly: he refuses to inflict the death penalty and instead offers mercy. The crowd is shocked. Lucius is livid, believing the mercy to be one final humiliation and still refusing repentance. Eloth strips Lucius of all titles and possessions and then personally cuts the rope of the ship The Dark Angel from The Morning Star flagship. Lucius screams threats as Eloth turns away and murmurs about how far Lucius has fallen. . . And that's just the prologue!

It's not hard to see who's who as the story unfolds. The characters are multi-dimensional and realistic. The supporting cast is believable and necessary. The writing is colorful, clear, and not too wordy. I would recommend that this novel be used for middle to high school students, both boys and girls. Although it could be read as a pleasure book, it has so much to offer that I'd suggest finding a place for it in the classroom, book club, or youth group setting.

The comb-bound Lesson Plan booklet includes more detailed information on the author and her journey to publishing The Victor. It also offers a pronunciation key for the unusual names in the novel. Then it gets into the meat of the lessons: vocabulary lists for every chapter, a character trait guide, chapter summaries, and an outline of literary devices used. The remaining (and bulk) of the lesson plans go chapter by chapter, indicating significant quotes or passages and then asking questions pertaining to that segment of the book. Most of the queries are straightforward, black and white, pointing out details or literary methods. However, and perhaps more significantly, some of the questions are introspective and help the student internalize the story better. The Lesson Plan booklet ends with a theme chart and references section.

Pros: This is a beautiful representation of the story of God's love for us. I am in favor of that point being emphasized and reiterated in as many ways as possible. This novel will appeal to both young and mature adults, and it could be a way to reach those who wouldn't normally pick up a Bible. Not only is The Victor a timeless story with a profound message, the Lesson Plans make it a natural addition to the classroom, helping the student and teacher focus on such things as literary techniques and reading comprehension.

Cons: The Lesson Plan booklet doesn't have answers for all of the proposed questions. While this may appeal to parent/teachers who are joining their students in the study, others will want the answers in front of them.

This is a book that will stay on our bookshelf long after it has been used in our homeschool - except for when I lend it out to those who need or want a reminder of God's love for us!

Product review by Krystin Corneilson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2010