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The Order Review by Cassandra Holdeman

John-Patrick Bayle

Finding books for teenage boys to read can be difficult if your teenager is like mine and doesn’t particularly like reading. I struggle to find fiction books that will capture his attention and keep him flipping the pages. Historical fiction is the one genre I can usually get my 14-year-old son to read and since The Order, by John-Patrick Bayle, fits this genre, I was curious to see what it was all about when we received the paperback to review.

It has 299 pages and is set in 1513 AD in Europe. This book tells the story of nineteen-year-old Jan Vander Leuk. He believes his life’s calling is to live in the abbey and become a monk. When the story begins we learn that Brother Jan has just found what appears to be a very important document hidden in his cell of the abbey. Jan has shared his finding with some of the other more experienced Brothers and they feel it is best to see what the Monsignor will say about it. There is an urgency surrounding this document that Jan does not understand and there is much controversy surrounding it. Some of the monks believe the document should be destroyed and others along with the Monsignor believe it needs to be transferred to a safe place and studied more.

Transporting this document is when the real adventure begins, and Brother Jan’s simple world is turned upside down and inside out. He quickly learns that good and evil exist within his own abbey and that there is a battle going on that he does not understand at all. The more people that Jan meets along the way, the more bits of secrecy he uncovers which make his travels even more dangerous. Everyone Jan meets is either trying to protect him or kill him and sometimes the line between protecting and killing becomes very gray. Brother Jan is desperate to get his questions answered but everyone keeps telling him that he will have to wait until he arrives in the city of Wittenberg. You will have to read the book to see if he makes it to Wittenberg and if his questions ever get answered because I am not giving away any spoilers. You can order it for yourself for $11.99.

Even though this is a fiction book, there are many interesting topics in it that could easily be the starting point for research, unit studies, and reports in a school setting. Some of the topics I got from the reading were Templar Knights, the Crusades, Martin Luther, the Reformation, abbeys, monks, Holy Wars, France, Germany, and the Holy Roman Empire. In addition to these topics there are many Christian themes throughout the book that could be studied such as grace versus works, salvation, and religious freedom. There were many more topics and themes in the book that would also be great to study. It is truly jam-packed with great content and topics to discuss or study.

After reading this book myself and being captivated by it, I think it will be a perfect historical fiction book for my son to read this fall for school. The first few pages read slowly because they are giving the background for the book, but once the action starts I was drawn in and I found myself not wanting to put the book down. The book is full of mystery, adventures, secrets, and hope. It has plenty of topics and themes that I can have him research and create projects for that will span multiple school subjects for him. This book will also lead to many great discussions for school too. It is very well written, and the author does a great job of including footnotes for the foreign terms and phrases he includes. I would definitely recommend adding this book to your reading list for high school age through adult readers. Whether you use this book for school or just a fun read, it will keep you flipping the pages.

-Product review by Cassandra Holdeman, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2018