The hero of this book is 11-year-old Dick, an orphan in an unnamed empire, presumably somewhere in central Europe in the early part of the 20th century. He befriends a mysterious man who is part of a political uprising against the current governor, and finds himself caught up in an underground resistance movement where he passes on messages, walks many miles, risking his life, and stays strong to some important promises.
It's not really my kind of book, but it's one my mother loved as a child and re-read as an adult; I've only just read it for the first time and found myself enjoying it very much. This was Violet Needham's first novel, but the writing is fast-paced, the characters well-drawn. If the plot is a little confusing - I wasn't entirely sure of the political ramifications, or why the resistance movement had to be so secret - it doesn't actually matter too much, since the story is about adventure with a strong theme of loyalty under pressure.
Undoubtedly there are stereotypes and caricatures; yet the 'good' people have their faults, and the 'bad' ones don't all turn out to be quite so bad after all, even if their motivations are sometimes a bit dubious.
All in all I thought this a good read, which would probably appeal to adventure-loving children from the age of about nine or ten upwards, if they read fluently; it could also make an excellent read-aloud, as adults can enjoy it too.
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Adventure and Espionage in a 'Nice' young adult series16 Mar. 2005
Mrs. Felicity M. Stanton
- Published on Amazon.com
The Black Riders is the first in a series featuring Dick, a preteen orphan who gets caught up in a rebellion against the succession to the crown in a European kingdom run on rather medieval lines and guarded by the legendary Black Riders with COunt Jasper in charge. Humour, loyalty and adventure become mixed as the story progresses and Dick is captured. This series only gets better as you age. I first read it at 10 and I still appreciate it fourty years later. A plus is it being published by Girls Gone By who do not believe in 'modernising' or 'cutting' their products.