The Victor: A Tale of Betrayal, Love, and Sacrifice
(novel and lesson plan)
By Marlayne Giron 2009
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
274 pages, softcover
Review by Karen Koch
I loved this book. The author had me at castles, sword fights, and a gentle romance, but the novel reveals an eternal story of good vs. evil that is much deeper than just what’s on the surface. Middle and high school students (and their parents) will love this account of adventure, drama, betrayal, sacrifice, and ultimate victory. This beautifully written novel has so much more depth than the traditional book for this age range. It is an allegory of the Bible story, from the fall of Satan to the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, told through a parallel story of a King, a kingdom, a betrayer, a Son, and his long-lost-then-found Bride. The fast-moving story held my attention to the point that I read it in three sittings.
At the core of the story is the love of King Eloth for his people, his mysterious and powerful sword Ephlal (judgment in Hebrew), his mercy in the face of betrayal, and the ultimate victory of his Son over evil. The love story between the King’s son, Joshua, and his betrothed, Llyonesse, is sweet and pure without the inappropriateness of most books for middle schoolers. The vocabulary and Medieval setting are rich with detail and memorable characters. I found the inobtrusive footnotes to Bible references a strong plus as I read.
The accompanying lesson plan book is an excellent addition, with vocabulary, details about armor and Bible references, literary elements, character descriptions, and analysis. This would make an excellent tandem study of literature (allegory in particular) and the parallels to the Bible. I plan to use this book and study guide with my middle-school daughter this coming school year.
The author writes, “[the story] is a retelling of the main theme of the Bible as a medieval fantasy/love story (the redemption of the bride by Christ). I am a Messianic Jew who came to faith in 1977 as a result of watching Jesus of Nazareth on television. I wrote The Victor in the hopes that it could be used as a witnessing tool to those who don’t want to be preached at.”
Because of difficult themes such as torture and violence, deceit and treachery, and the threat of the evil Lucius (Lucifer) forcing himself on a young girl (which does not ultimately occur), I suggest reading and discussing with your teen or reading it yourself first. The themes closely parallel those in the Bible, though. As I read, I found myself marveling about the amazing mercy and love of God (Eloth) and Jesus (Joshua) in the face of betrayal, and the utter wickedness of the vile Lucius (Lucifer).
Download a free student guide (companion to the lesson plan book, questions but no answers).