How Sleep the Brave!

How Sleep the Brave!: A Novel of 17th Century Scotland, by J. H. Hunter
(Inheritance Publications, 2008), pb., 235 pp.
Ages 8+

This book has joined the list of our top favorites alongside books by C. S. Lewis, Douglas Bond and Allen French! This was a great story, full of action and adventure as well as good teaching. There was also a romance though for my boys that was a negative rather than another positive. 🙂

It seems to me that few people are aware of the Covenanters in 17th century Scotland, their sufferings and their perseverance, but we would do well to acquaint ourselves and our children with these brave believers. Douglas Bond’s Crown & Covenant series is also set in this time period. I first learned of this period during our years in Scotland and have been fascinated with it since.

The story begins in 1685 in the western portion of Scotland around Culzean Castle. As persecution breaks out against the Reformed Protestant Covenanters the rightful lord of Fenwick Hall, Duncan Fenwick, is forced to live among the heather and caves along with many others. As the king’s dragoons harass, pillage and murder people simply because of their faith, Duncan Fenwick disguises himself as the “Black Avenger” and sweeps in thrashing the dragoons and rescuing the faithful. The Black Avenger is essentially a Scottish Scarlet Pimpernel, master of disguise, who overcomes the enemy with superior wit and brute strength. He makes a classic hero. It also adds to the story that one typically hears the Avenger playing his bagpipes in the area before he attacks!

We absolutely loved this story. There is good humor (I often had to quiet my boys so as not to awaken the babies!), rousing action and heroism, real nobility and good theology. It is also provides a good overview of the suffering of the people in this time. The description of the suffering is at times quite straightforward and blunt. Some local words were hard to understand and not included in the glossary, but this did not seriously detract from the book.

The examples of faithfulness in suffering was moving to me. The author includes Sandy Peden (often referred to as “Peden the Prophet”) in the story and the account (often included in books of Covenanter stories) prayer for deliverance from the dragoons and the miraculous answer. These are faith building stories to share with our children.

This is a great book which we would urge you not to miss.

One Comment

  1. I first read this book in my early teens. My older brother was to go into surgery and my dad gave him a copy of How Sleep the Brave. I read it right after him and I totally loved it. Can’t find it anymore and I’ve been looking for a place to download it. It is adventurous and shows the strong practical faith of these Scottish people in the face of adversity. Along with Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis etc, I hope I can share it with my children when they come along

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