“Ut agnus inter lupos,” softly said Gottfried, looking tenderly, though sadly, at his niece, who not only understood the quotation, but well remembered the carving of the cross-marked lamb going forth from it’s fold among the howling wolves.

And so Charlotte Yonge’s young heroine must leave the safe burgher household of her aunt and uncle she has all her life known, and venture forth with the father come to claim her, to a den of thieves and baron robbers.  We follow the trials and temptations of this gently raised maiden as she struggles to be a light in the midst of the savagery, moral darkness, and poverty of her new surroundings.

The tale is set in the 1400’s, in the joint reign of Maximilian I and Friedrich III, when the Emperor ruled over a “nation of kings”,  every baron was a law unto himself, and Faust recht ruled.  With  adventure enough to keep the book moving at a strapping pace, and a hint of romance for the soft hearted, this book also illustrates many traditions and customs of the time.

Central to the story is the battle of good over evil, and the need to overcome evil with good. It concludes just as Luther’s influence is being felt, and portrays some of the consequences endured by people of all faiths when they maintain a view alternate to the mainstream.

The Dove in the Eagle’s nest has a strong Catholic flavour, and there were passages that I chose to skim over while reading aloud.  However, overall, this was a tremendous success as a read aloud, and even the young member of the family who most frequently objects to death and killing in a story (she is after all, only six) didn’t find the knightly feuds too grueling to bear, although there were moments all were close to tears!

An excellent story if you are learning about 15th century Germany, or to read purely for pleasure!

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