Giron, Marlayne. (2009). The Victor. Mustang, OK: Tate Publishing. ISBN #978-1-60799-184-7. Author age recommendations: middle school & higher. Litland age recommendation:  Of interest to adults and teens age 13+ (and younger gifted readers).

 Publisher description:  A benevolent King; …his sword of power; …a ruthless traitor bent on revenge;  …and the faithful son who stands in his way with the woman destined to share his throne. Who shall emerge as the victor in this epic struggle between good and evil to govern the lives of hapless men?” (Tate Publishing)

 Similar to other epic tales, the story begins its prologue with a classic battle. In the course of the battle, we meet the characters and have a sense of the good guys vs. the bad guys. Thus the reader enters into the story with a foreboding sense knowing Lucius, the dark knight, will somehow undo all that is good in the empire of Ellioth. 

And classic it is: Eloth the King, Ardon and Joshua the king’s foster son and birth-son. Ephlal the magic sword passed down through generations of kings and always tempting Lucius whose goal is its possession. As in stories of old, chivalry and honor prevail as the good guys seek to preserve life and give bad guys every opportunity possible to convert to the good. 

With commanding language, the author gives a meaningful description so we can feel the experience, the suspense, the danger, without unnecessary gore or violence. But there are light moments too…in an attempt to create punishment for Lucius, Penloth creates humourous situations (such as securing him so as to face the butt of the horse ahead of him!).  Throughout the story, I feel as if I’m watching a favorite old movie, perhaps with Errol Flynn or Charlton Heston as lead actors. 

And as with the best of classics, woven throughout are strong moral lessons. We see how easily corruption can conquer the minds of the good and pure: “It’s not what I shall do to him, but rather what I will compel others to do” says Lucius the evil antagonist. And the ease with which he disrupts the society of Ellioth is not only well written, but also very very true of real life. Thus the reader should be able to relate this to their own life while also enjoying it simply for its fictional quality. 

We see Ardon’s poor judgement of trusting the newcomer (Lucius) instead of putting his trusted and known companions in charge. We see how easily his wife Zarabeth has her mind and heart twisted into selfish narcissim. How easily Lucius can sense the weakness in each (blind trust in Ardon; bitterness in Zarabeth) and fan the embers into flames which eventually lead to their demise. And it is no coincidence, then, that as Lucius fills Zarabeth’s heart and mind with all that is evil, her health fails from its corruption. Another lesson that mirrors those of classic tales as well as real life. 

Near its very end, Lucius tries to ‘have his way” with Llyoness; the situation implies this without unnecessary detail similar to how it would be handled in old movies.  Later when Joshua succeeds in overtaking Lucius, the story does get violent with concrete detail, but just for a few pages. Otherwise, its content is appropriate for all ages although the reading difficulty level would be appropriate for tweens/teens.  

 In the book marketplace today with the choices of stories that present chivalry and honor disappearing rapidly, it is great to have this one appear unexpectedly. But what kind of story is this…is it a romance? Or an adventure? Think back to classics of the past such as Knights of the Round Table with Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner (rent and see for yourself!). If you ask a guy, he’d say it’s an adventure. But ask any gal and she’ll likely say its a romance. So there you have it! Classics usually do appeal to both genders, and this story is very much styled in classic form. 

So here’s my suggested ideas for this book:

  • Include it in your mother-daughter or father-son shared reading with your tweens/teens (or gifted younger kids)
  • Choose this for your family book club reading. If you have young children and are worried about just those couple of pages at the end of the story, simply paraphrase when you get to that part :>))
  • Are you homeschooling and looking for ways to engage your teens? Have them interpret this story by writing their own script for a play or video. Then produce it! Invite the neighbors and family over one Friday night, pop the popcorn and let the kids perform! Or start your own family channel on youtube and let the kids “produce” their film version of it! 

Finally, parents who would like to use it as part of their homeschooling, or classroom teachers may find the author’s supplemental materials of interest. There is a free workbook available for download and a full lesson plan available for purchase at . The lesson plan is extremely extensive and well written. Not only could you immediately implement it into your studies for literature analysis, but the fun side of me sees the extensive vocabulary lists and imagines all sorts of games that can be created out of it (smile) 

I entered this story blind, reading without age or purpose in mind. Rather than limiting its existence to a younger crowd, I see great potential appeal to teens and adults to share together. I also see it as engaging the reluctant readers who have good reading skills but may be hard to pin down and read. Let’s face it: just looking at the size of a classic like Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings can scare anyone off. So this medieval tale of under 300 pages might be the answer! You’ll find it in our bookstore ages 15+.  Enjoy!

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