Item description for In the Shadow of the Sun King: Book One in the Darkness to Light Series (Darkness To Light #1) by Golden Keyes Parsons...
Overview Seventeenth-century France is a dangerous time and place for a Huguenot. One woman risks her life for the freedom to practice her faith.
Because of their Protestant faith in Catholic France during the 17th century, Huguenots Francois and Madeleine Clavell's estate is overtaken by King Louis XIV's dragoons. Madeleine takes it upon herself to save her family by calling on her past love affair with the king. This is a desperate and risky decision, and one that forever changes her family's future.
Features the following bonus materials: a map, author and historical notes, and a reading group guide, making it a perfect selection for book clubs.
Madeleines shared history with the king holds the key to her familys life...or death.
Seventeenth century France is an unsafe time to be a Huguenot. By order of King Louis XIV, all French Protestants must immediately convert or face imprisonment--or death. The kings dragoons ferret out the nonconformists, pillaging villages and destroying homesteads.
When the kings soldiers descend on the Clavell estate, the familys fate hangs in the balance. Quickly, quietly, they send their two sons into hiding, trusting that the young age of their daughter will guarantee her protection. But the dragoons will not be dissuaded; they hold the manor hostage looking for clues of their guilt or innocence. However, Madeleine Clavell, the lady of the manor, holds a secret--one possible chance to save the family. She and the king share a past.
Once a beautiful young lady in the French court whom Louis loved, Madeleine travels to Versailles to plead for mercy from the fickle king, hoping to regain his favor and save her family. Its a gamble, but she is left with no other choice. Madeleine soon faces an agonizing decision--one that changes her family forever.
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Studio: Thomas Nelson
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.2" Width: 5.3" Height: 1" Weight: 0.85 lbs.
Release Date Nov 1, 2008
Publisher Thomas Nelson
Series Darkness To Light
Series Number 1
ISBN 159554626X ISBN13 9781595546265 UPC 020049135402
Availability 0 units.
More About Golden Keyes Parsons
Golden Keyes Parsons is the author of the highly acclaimed Darkness to Light series. She's been nominated for several awards, including the ACFW Book of the Year. She and her family live in Texas.""
Reviews - What do customers think about In the Shadow of the Sun King (Darkness to Light Series, Book 1)?
Quit after 50 pages Apr 4, 2010
Last fall I got brave and ordered four books from this site that were by Christian authors I'd never read before. I am always hopeful of finding a new Christian author to love. Alas, of the three of those four books that I've read so far, I was dissatisfied with all of them, and only finished one of them. Unfortunately, In the Shadow of the Sun King is one of the two that I didn't even finish.
In all honesty, I normally probably would have given this book more time and chance than just 50 pages. But just the day before I tossed another poorly-written book (one of those four mentioned above) after reading only half-way through, and so I was feeling frustrated and not inclined to waste any more of my time on another less-than-well-written book.
What turned me off most of all within those first 50 pages was the author's style of telling rather than showing. A good author doesn't tell the reader what the characters are thinking and feeling, but allows the reader to discover it themselves as it emerges from the writing. Not only does this make the characters real and three-dimensional (as opposed to flat), but it makes the action and the plot of the story believable (as opposed to contrived) as the reader sees the characters' actions develop as an extension of what they're feeling.
I didn't see any trace of that in the 50 pages that I read of In the Shadow of the Sun King. What I saw instead were strong indications that the story line was going to be contrived, as the author forced the plot to go in the direction she wanted it to go without making it credible to the reader. As an example, at the first sign of trouble from the royal soldiers, the main character Madeleine just suddenly decides that she's going to personally visit the king and invoke their childhood friendship in a plea for mercy. The idea quite literally pops into her head in the middle of the night. No inner struggle, no considering. This struck me as completely implausible and totally forced.
Another tendency that I found in the 50 pages that I read, was for the author to bog her story down with tedious details that were unnecessary. For instance, when the two boys were hiding in a cave with their uncle, she depicted this scene by telling minute details of every little thing they did. In a scene of tension, such detail can build the suspense. However, there was no tension or suspense in this scene, and so reading every little detail about how one of the boys cut his hand, how he spilled water getting the bucket inside the cave, etc. etc. did nothing (that I could see) to further the story but only made it tedious.
Of course, I have no idea how this book progresses or turns out, although I suspect they all live happily ever after in the end. But Ms. Parsons totally failed to capture my interest enough to make me want to read any further.
Admittedly, I am a very critical reader. As other reviews of this book testify, plenty of readers have been happy with this book. It is probably only other readers who are critical like me who will find fault and be dissatisfied with this book. If you are one of those who look not just for a good, clean story, but one that is well-written as well, then don't waste your time or money on this one. You will be disappointed.
Didn't Feel Connected to the Characters or the History Mar 26, 2010
I was intrigued to get a copy of In the Shadow of the Sun King by Golden Keyes Parsons to review. In 2006, we visited Versailles on a trip to Paris and I was surprised to see what a complex figure Louis XIV was. His reign lasted over 70 years. Versailles and the court culture surrounding it was at least in part an ploy to keep his nobles under control by forcing them to spend vast amounts of money on luxury items and parties thrown for the amusement of the court and the king. His reign began around the end of the Thirty Years war, a war over sovereignty and religion in Europe, and lasted well into the age of exploration in the New World. I was hoping that this book would explore this time and the changes and conflicts that made visiting Versailles interesting.
I was disappointed. The story focuses on one Huguenot family living in the countryside. Through a series of heavy handed actions, the family is soon separated and in dire straits. But because this occurs so early in the story, I found that I was having difficulty not only following the motivation for the family's choices but even keeping the characters straight in my mind. Because there hadn't been much foundation laid down about Calvinism's earlier spread in France and the crown's reaction to it, I found it difficult to understand the fears and pressures that the family was under. Instead of seeming desperate and heroic, the main character came off as naïve and foolhardy. A chapter or long prologue featuring the main characters (or their parents) during events like the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre or the persecutions that were occurring as the story begins would have done more to set the stage for the family's actions.
I think that because this story represents at least in part the story of the author's family that there may be a pressure to tell the story as the family history recounts it. Unfortunately, that may assume a higher background knowledge than a reader who is unfamiliar with the frictions in Europe over religion at the time brings to the story. The wars over religion in the 1600s were over far more than the minor bits of doctrine that separate modern American denominations. These were differences worth killing and dying over. But the seriousness of the divide didn't come through for me. Instead the story seemed to assume that the reader would identify with the family because they were fellow Protestants or in an anachronistic sense of the importance of freedom of religion (an concept that didn't exist at the time). There wasn't much discussion of the idea that Catholics might have resisted Huguenots not just out of a struggle for power, but because they viewed Calvinism as a heresy.
I would be interested in reading a sequel. But I hope that it would come with a heavier dose of historical leavening in the story.
(I received a free review copy of this book from the publisher.)
Strong Debut Novel Mar 12, 2010
In The Shadow of the Sun King, by Golden Keyes Parsons is a drama/family saga of religious persecution during the reign of France's "Sun King" Louis XIV. Many things set this tale apart from standard CBA fare beginning with the central theme of persecution of Protestants by Catholics; the time period, the attention to detail, and a heroine to root for.
Ms. Parsons is a generous writer, even giving the reader perhaps too much back story at times--for me, the prologue did so. In fact, it was enough to make me start reading with trepidation, but fear not: Despite the promise of hard times for the characters, there is an interesting story, lots of action, pathos, and memorable characters. King Louis did not live up to my prior understanding of him, coming across as half-boy, half-man, but my "prior understanding" was formed a long time ago, and I haven't read about him in ages. And I enjoyed every scene where he appeared, regardless. The splendor of Versailles was mentioned, but I did not get a strong sense of it, nor of the King's famously rich court, or the power struggles that went on within it.
However, what could have been a little depressing in terms of the struggles the Clavell family suffers during the course of the book, instead, thanks to the deft handling by the author, leaves the reader with hope.
I highly recommend this book and I am now moving on to Golden's sequel, A Prisoner of Versailles.
Rather Flat Jan 2, 2010
In the Shadow of the Sun King introduces readers to Madeleine Clavell, a Huguenot during unsettled times in seventeenth century France. King Louis XIV's quest to unify France under the Catholic religion plunges her family into chaos as the King's dragoons seek to relocate her children to Catholic schools, and seize control of her family estate.
Seeking to divert the King's minions, Madeleine departs for court, leaving her two young boys hidden in a cave with their uncle and her young daughter with her husband at home. Drawing upon a history of young love, she hopes to extract a promise of mercy, an exception from the countrywide disruption affecting those who profess a Reformed faith.
This, Golden Keyes Parsons first novel in the Darkness to Light series, is based both upon historical fact and her own genealogy. As a reader with great interest in the persecuted church throughout the ages, I was looking forward to a moving tale that put flesh on the difficulties faced by Huguenot's and their response to the pressures applied to them. Instead, I found a story that uses persecution almost more as a plot device, without tapping into the broader undercurrents of the persecutions in France.
Disappointingly, Parson's debut effort also suffers from an awkward writing style, I nearly gave up in the opening three chapters, but pressed on, hoping to glean more details of Huguenot life. Excessive use of character names during dialogue repeatedly slows the flow of action, the odd French word here and there also seemed out of place and somewhat annoying.
Madeline is a weak character - her girlish giggling seems to infatuate all manner of men - the King included, but failed to elicit any true emotion from me. I couldn't fathom how all these men could instantly feel so deeply for her, even one she'd only met a handful of times. Her husband Francois is grittier and more believable as he toughs it out, but fails to rescue the story.
The passion the Huguenots must have held for their doctrinal beliefs and the freedom they experienced in Christ alone is barely felt. Far more emphasis is placed upon the "traditions" of the family faith rather than a deep personal commitment that refuses to surrender under hardship. Personal relationships with God are however evident in the lives of the characters.
I love Christian historical fiction that revolves around major historical events and held high hopes for Parsons' series. With such a fabulous premise and time period, In the Shadow of the Sun King could have been both deeply moving and informative; instead, reading it became little more than a task to be completed quickly and removed from my to-do list.
Stunning! Sep 17, 2009
The Huguenots have faced isolation and persecution during the reign of King Louis XIV. Despite the Edict of Nantes, religious discrimination is a part of everyday life. However, the Clavell family has enjoyed a bit of protection due to the King's youthful love of Madeleine Clavell and his respect for her now deceased father. All that changes the day the dragoons arrive at the Clavell home.
Madeleine and her husband, Francois, have prepared for such an event as the arrival of the dragoons. Unfortunately, a series of choices are about to put the Clavell family right in the King's path and place their entire family at risk. Madeleine and Francois will have to rely on their faith in God to face the hardships ahead.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE SUN KING is a stunning portrait of the power of faith. Madeleine and Francois endure challenges that would test the faith of anyone and yet they persevere. Golden Keyes Parsons doesn't make her characters perfect saints, however. Her characters stumble over the very same obstacles many face today. In fact, it is their ability to overcome such obstacles and to face their own failings while leaning on God that makes them so realistic.
Golden Keyes Parsons doesn't hesitate to address some very weighty issues. Readers should note that topics such as adultery and murder are integral to the plot. Ms. Parsons pits her characters against the frightening backdrop of the persecution of the Huguenots to provide an insightful and terrifying picture of fanaticism and power gone amok.
IN THE SHADOW OF THE KING is not your typical Christian fiction story. Golden Keyes Parsons doesn't promise a happily-ever-after for any of her characters but instead shows their struggles with life in the midst of dangerous and violent turmoil. Sometimes the characters will make you mad, other times you'll weep for them. But without a doubt, IN THE SHADOW OF THE KING makes a definite impact on the reader. History comes alive in this phenomenal tale!