AUTHOR: David Mains, Karen Mains
AUDIENCE: Ages 8+, anyone who likes adventure, epics, and meaningful stories.
Kingdom Tales (or Tales of the Kingdom), is a trilogy that follows a boy, named Scarboy, through an adventure from despair to glory. He lives in a world, much like our own, but under the rule of The Enchanter, the cruel ruler of the Enchanted City, who removes joy, forces everyone (including children) to work at night and to sleep during the day, enslaves all the people, and worst of all breaks families apart and persecutes anyone who believes that there is a real King.
The adventure through which the trilogy takes you is an epic filled with characters to learn from and situations to think through and where the goals of the characters are redemption in various ways. There are several reasons why I would recommend this book for children. The audience for this book is children who are a little older; probably no younger than 7, for two reasons. First, the chapters are somewhat long, so a longer attention span is needed (unless you feel like splitting chapters in parts, but that may break the flow of action). Second, some parts of the stories are dark and grim and might disturb younger or more sensitive audiences. My daughter was around 8 when we read this book, and she is fairly sensitive to dark stuff. The first chapter is perhaps the darkest and almost made us call it quits at first. Read through the first chapter and you’ll find out what some of the chapters are like.
However, the trilogy uses the dark and grim details for a purpose. It wants to paint a picture of a real world that has real problems: pain, suffering, hopelessness, faithlessness, and sometimes pure evil. The books tries to show the pain that evil causes. It also beautifully paints a portrait of a world (and a King) led by love and kindness, loyalty and purity, and very crucially, a life of faith. For all the discomfort that the stories dreariness brings, the contrast of the King’s Great Park will fill the reader with a glimpse of unity and dedication.
Faith is perhaps one of the biggest topics throughout the book. The Enchanter is completely opposed to faith (his motto is “seeing is believing”), while the King demands that his people live by faith. We see faith (and the lack of faith) lived out in the characters and we get to also be present for the pain that the lack of faith brings and the glory that faithfulness brings.
The book is well written; progresses quickly to keep readers of all ages wanting to continue hearing more. The lessons are not always quite obvious as the messiness of fallen people and places presents challenging issues and perspectives. This imitates real life and may make the resulting discussions even more lively.