by Jacqueline Zilliox
here to buy
available through Chapters.indigo.ca
Ever since the kingdom
of Arcane lost its king, it has fallen into complete darkness.
To make matters worse, the new ruler has imprisoned adults
who oppose him and forced their children to work to supply
his vast army. The good king of Luminaire is wondering why
his knights haven't returned from Arcane from their mission
to invite its citizens to come live in his kingdom. So,
he decides to send his last knight, and only son, twelve
year old Tyro. Tyro enters Arcane wearing a full suit of
armor that glows in light. He immediately runs into some
of the new rulerís soldiers and discovers they were his
father's knights. He travels throughout the kingdom giving
the invitation to everyone that he meets. Those who accept
immediately have on the same glowing armor as Tyro. Eventually,
Tyro bravely faces Anon and proves that he's his father's
son. (Book cover, Tyro)
This is a really great
Christian fantasy book for youths about 8-14 years of age.
The main character is a twelve year old boy whom children
that age will be able to relate to. He is extremely likable
and seems to understand exactly what it is that children
desire. For example, the following passage exemplifies the
author's insight into children and their needs as related
through young Tyro's experience:
"The other boy turned
to Tyro with big tears in his eyes, "I'm happy too."
He began to sob so hard that he could hardly breathe. "I'm
very...very...happy," he said between deep breaths.
Then he grabbed Tyro's neck and gave him a tight hug. "Thank
you," he took another breath and repeated, "thank
you." Tyro hugged him as long as he wanted,
and when the boy let go, Tyro said, "I'm happy too.
Now let's get out of the rain." (pg.
11, Tyro. Italics mine)
The other characters in
the book are also boys and girls whom children will be able
to relate to. Each one could easily be someone you know.
The dialogue is simple, easy to follow, and typical of childish
The story is full of adventure and interesting
people. There are a couple fight scenes that will thrill the
young reader. Tyro rides a great stallion named Ivory which
will be to the envy of most readers. What child doesn't dream
of riding a great horse without fear or trepidition - one
that comes when you call him?
On of the greatest things in this novel
is that the children are empowered and must make decisions
on their own that will benefit not only themselves, but their
parents as well. It is truly wonderful to see children depicted
in such a positive and esteeming manner. The Bible does say
that you must become like a little child to enter the kingdom
of heaven and certainly these children are examples of ones
As an adult reader, I found the allegory
almost too obvious in this story. It is very apparent to an
adult reader what the allegory is though to a child it might
be just right. Children can understand the basic salvation
message in this story and it would be spiritually encouraging
to them. I would heartily recommend it to young readers.
However, as C. S. Lewis once wrote, in
order for a child's book to be great fiction, it must be able
to entertain both a child and an adult. While this book is
great for kids, it is a very fast and easy read for adults.
In order for an allegorical story to work well, it needs to
be complete as a story alone. Tyro has two allegorical
problems that I can see may cause problems for the adult reader.
The first is that it contains at least one scene that serves
an allegorical purpose but does not seem to further the plot
at all. I am speaking specifically of the scene where Tyro
stumbles upon the group of men following one another in a
snakelike line and then discovers that their leader is actually
physically blind. (chapter 3, Tyro) It
serves the purpose of telling the reader that some people
follow others blindly, without thought or reason. This may
be a good point to illustrate for children, but as far as
I can see, it is extraneous to the main allegory of the story.
I actually found the scene quite interesting and thought-provoking
although I struggled with the overall integrity of the story
with the inclusion of this side allegory.
The second problem is that the allegory
appears to contradict itself at one point. Assuming it is
an allegory of the Biblical salvation message and that Tyro's
father (king of Luminaire) is God, then why does Tyro find
out that the king of Arcane is the king of Luminaire's brother?
(page 70, Tyro) Does God the
Father have a brother? Here is where it deviates from the
true Christian allegory. I fear that such a diversion here
takes away from the truth of the rest of the allegory. I was
also left wondering why Anon has the only key back into Luminaire.
(Page 86, Tyro) In the Bible,
it is Jesus that has the keys to heaven.
One other small problem I had with the
story is the fact that those who decide to believe Tyro and
go with him to his father's kingdom immediately begin to glow
with the strange light like Tyro. Assuming that the allegorical
story is that they've accepted salvation and have "become
new" (apparently exemplified by the glowing light), I
fear that the childish reader will assume that one will be
physically different or distinguishable from others when they
become a christian. In truth, however, the only "noticeable"
difference when one becomes a Christian is in one's actions.
There is no "glowing light" or angelic halo or any
fantastic sign like that. Also, where does the armour come
from? We are told that Tyro's father is the King of Luminaire,
not some magical wizard who can make armour appear without
any cause other than "believing." Perhaps I am overly
critical of the fantastic element in this story as it is such
a departure from what I normally read. (grin)
It may seem that I have made several points
that argue against the effectiveness of this novel. I wish
to emphasize that I had a few questions from an adult reader's
perspective, not a child's. This novel is intended for
the young audience and it succeeds in its goal admirably.
Would I encourage one of my own sons to read this book? Yes!!
It is edifying, exciting, interesting, and fantastic and relates
the basic salvation message in an innovative and original