Title: From Across the Ancient Waters
Author: Michael Phillips
Series: The Green Hills of Snowdonia
Major Themes: Wales, Pirates, Christian Fiction
Synopsis: Pirate treasure, horse racing, and a girl whom people think is a witch—this is quite the epic story!
I often grab free books when I see them available, and leave them on my Kindle to read “someday,” then, when I’m not sure what I want to read, I choose the next one in alphabetical order. The most recent one I chose that way was From Across the Ancient Waters, and I was delighted to see that it was by Michael Phillips. I read a few of his books some 25 years ago, and really enjoyed them. I was not disappointed!
As this long story begins (there are 85 chapters!), there are two seemingly totally different tales told in alternate chapters. Most of this book has to do with Percy, banished to the countryside estate of his uncle in Wales after getting into trouble in Scotland, and Gwyneth, the enigma of a girl he continually bumped into. There is also a mystery of pirate’s treasure and men who will kill to find it.
Percy and his cousins Courtenay and Florilyn were all self-absorbed, with no interest in God. What would it take to change them? Gwynneth and her way of returning good for evil, her simple, clear outlook on life, helped—for those who weren’t determined to hate and fear the unusual girl. Horse races, even with a tragic ending, made a difference as well.
The writing style of this book reminds me of George MacDonald. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Michael Phillips considered MacDonald somewhat of a mentor. From Across the Ancient Waters is set at the time MacDonald was writing (the 1860s-70s), and in fact, several times MacDonald’s books are mentioned—some of the people in the story are avid readers of them! That was a fun touch.
From Across the Ancient Waters is an epic story that I had a hard time putting down. I really enjoyed it as a story, and also appreciated the deeper aspects that came out as some of the characters matured and changed. For example, the conversation between a young man and young woman, about his discussion with his father about God’s leading, was excellent. I highly recommend this book for people who enjoy long, involved stories with many strands pulled together. Although—not all the strands have been pulled together yet. I want to read the sequel now!
WARNING: “Gosh” is used several times.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults