Monday, March 10, 2014

Book Review: The Thunder, A Novel On John Knox, by Douglas Bond (P&R 2012)

Book Review: THE THUNDER, a novel on John Knox, by Douglas Bond (P&R, 2012)
A two-for-one review by bloggers John and Rebecca Knox 

In The Thunder, a novel on John Knox, Douglas Bond has done it again! Bond has long been at the top of the list of favorite authors in the Knox home. Shortly after discovering our own Scottish roots and ancestry (Knox really is our surname), and being absolutely fascinated by them, we discovered and read Mr. Bond's Crown & Covenant Trilogy, (the first, Duncan’s War is at present being made into a movie) followed by his Faith & Freedom Trilogy.

When The Thunder was released, we absolutely devoured it. What I love about Mr. Bond's writing is the way he weaves meticulously researched, historical fact and fiction together in such a way as to create a rich story line that brings to life people, places, and times that we might, otherwise, have known very little about. Perhaps as a result of the many church history tours he leads, Mr. Bond's writing transports us to other times and places, inviting us to delve in and learn more for ourselves, further enriching our family learning experiences. 

At the risk of appearing to over praise, The Thunder truly is one of the best books that I have ever read, and through its pages I was spiritually humbled and challenged. Bond tells the incredible story of God's grace in the life of John Knox and the struggle for Reformation in Scotland. The Thunder is, as Richard Phillips, pastor and author of The Masculine Mandate, wrote "...historically informative and spiritually inspiring, as well as highly enjoyable and fast-paced..." 

Told from the perspective of a young student, one who is resolved to protect Knox at all costs to himself, Bond's thrilling biographical novel provides a look at the harrowing life story of a timid man who is, literally, transformed into a giant of the faith. One who goes down in history and is known to this day as “The Thundering Scot.” The novel reveals Knox as a man filled with the love of Christ and made courageous by his faith in God's Word. Families everywhere should read this book--all the better if they read it aloud. The Thunder is a deeply spiritual novel that is sure to stir the heart and faith of anyone who longs to see God's Word triumph in our world today. How fitting to read it on the 500th commemorative year of Knox’s birth in 1514.


In The Thunder, Douglas Bond has, again, created a singular masterpiece of storytelling, which thoroughly captivates the reader from chapter to spellbinding chapter. The meticulous, historical research results in a vivid and explosive depiction of the life and times of John Knox, sixteenth-century Scotland, and continental Europe amidst the wildfire of the Reformation period. Only a well-traveled modern American author with Scottish roots and a true love and understanding of the theology of Presbyterianism in Scotland, could have succeeded in portraying the dangerous and desperate society in which John Knox found himself in the mid-16th century. 
Furthermore, Bond's The Thunder, accurately brings to its readers a vitally important time and place sometimes obscured or ignored by present day church historians, many of whom are honestly unaware of. By weaving historical fact with altogether-believable fictional scenarios, Bond’s novel reaches a potentially wider audience, while never sacrificing the truth of the history. Many educators should find The Thunder to be a valuable resource for introducing this period of European history in a classroom setting or in the homeschool. 
In addition, The Thunder presents much needed and informative facts regarding the origins of the Geneva Bible of which Knox was instrumental in producing. Obviously, Bond knows that both teachers and students of early U.S. History can never fully comprehend the events leading up to the American Revolution without a firm grip on the Scotch Reformation of which John Knox was the key player.
As viable historical fiction, The Thunder, is a perfect example of an important literary genre often overlooked, or virtually disregarded by serious scholars of theology--to their own detriment. Recent studies conducted by Professor Gregory Bern, and a team of neuroscientists at Emory University, have concluded that reading great fiction has both short and long-term social and educational benefits for everyone, a fact appreciated by readers of classic literature for centuries, and more recently rediscovered in The Great Books approach to curriculum in Christian education and widely within the Christian homeschool community. 
Among other roles, church leaders are educators to their flocks, and should therefore equip themselves for effectiveness by every legitimate means to carry out that God-ordained responsibility. For that reason alone, pastors, elders, and theologians (avid readers of non-fiction) who've previously been reluctant to embrace historical fiction and imaginative literature should seriously reconsider the reasons for avoiding this literary genre. Having confronted that personal prejudice, an excellent place to start is Douglas Bond's The Thunder, a novel on John Knox (P&R, 2012). 

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  1. Thanks, Rebecca and John, for a great review!

    1. Thank YOU, Mr. Bond, for writing such great books! Keep 'em coming! :)


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