The Spanish brothers, by the author of 'The dark year of Dundee'.

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Stunning portrayal of God living in a believers heart. I could not put this book down and now can just sit back in awe. Beautiful, beautiful story. I cried and laughed for joy as I read it, and almost sang aloud during some moments--though they would seem to be the saddest of all. Though the writing is in older English with a style that would never be published today (Alcock seems to not be familiar with the phrase "show don't tell"), I was swiftly caught up in the story and the lives of the brothers. In angry moments my pulse beat faster and my eyes flew across the pages, in grief-filled moments I felt their sorrow and wept with them, I shared their anxieties and laughed for joy as they discovered God more. Though I little cared for one minor plot twist, the story flowed beautifully in showing God's power and grace, and the blessedness of knowing Him that overcomes all trials--even the torture chamber of the Inquisition.
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Though dozens of characters, some of whom are beloved to the reader, die in the story, Alcock amazingly shows scarce a violent scene. Save for a swordfight between boys in which one is slightly injured, all violent scenes are show in retrospect, either a character or the narrator telling what happened in briefest terms. We see not so much what happened to the martyrs, as how God upheld them through it.
Still, this is not a children's book (though excellent for highschoolers) and I would also recommend caution in giving it to someone very sensitive to character hardships.
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The spiritual/theological content--mostly consisting of Catholic vs. Protestant--could be difficult to understand for those not accustomed to such subjects. For any Christian who has studied the Reformation at all, or knows their faith, it shouldn't be an unsurmountable issue.
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The main aspect of the book that I greatly appreciate is the historical accuracy. I believe the primary purpose of historical fiction is to "reveal, enforce, and illustrate the Truth" and Alcock did that excellently with this book.
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I beg you to forbear from turning to the end of the book from lack of patience or weariness with the story's pace. The end is well worth waiting for, if you will but read the whole thing first.
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Again, the older English used may give difficulty to some readers, so take heed on that score. However, if you can grasp my meaning in this review, you ought to follow the Spanish Brothers well enough. My speech tends to conform to that of which I have lately read.
 

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Page 394 - The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb...
Page 148 - LORD, nor the operation of his hands : therefore shall he break them down, and not build them up. 7 Praised be the LORD : for he hath heard the voice of my humble petitions. 8 The LORD is my strength, and my shield ; my heart hath trusted in him, and I am helped : therefore my heart danceth for joy, and in my song will I praise him.
Page 377 - MAN, that is born of a woman, hath but a short time to live, and is full of misery. He cometh up, and is cut down like a flower ; he fleeth as it were a shadow, and never continueth in one stay.
Page 70 - The very God! think, Abib; dost thou think? So, the All-Great, were the All-Loving too — So, through the thunder comes a human voice Saying, "O heart I made, a heart beats here! "Face, my hands fashioned, see it in myself! "Thou hast no power nor mayst conceive of mine, "But love I gave thee, with myself to love, "And thou must love me who have died for thee!
Page 176 - Have not I commanded thee ? be strong and of a good courage ; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed : for the LORD thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.
Page 253 - THE Lord hear thee in the day of trouble; the name of the God of Jacob defend thee; Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion...
Page 246 - And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: the merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble...
Page 410 - And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not: for, behold, I will bring evil upon all flesh, saith the Lord : but thy life will I give unto thee for a prey in all places whither thou goest.
Page 307 - O sweet and strange it seems to me, that ere this day is done The voice, that now is speaking, may be beyond the sun...
Page 363 - God I will praise his word : In God have I put my trust, I will not be afraid ; What can flesh do unto me?

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