I just read The Silver Sword (book 1) and The Golden Cross (book 2) of The Heirs of Cahira O'Connor series and I am looking forward to reading books 3&4.
Angela Hunt is a skillful writer with a good sense of plot pacing and a focus on emotion, rather than sentiment. She creates engaging main characters who struggle with their faith and a supporting cast of characters that include several faithful Christians, as well as non-Christians of all stripes, without ever really falling into the trap of making all non-Christians blood-thirsty lunatics.
The Silver Sword takes place in 15th century Bohemia and centers around the life of reformer John Hus. Filled with fascinating historical details and interesting characters, the author follows the life of Anika, a copyist who is orphaned and takes refuge in a castle by disguising herself as a boy and training as a knight. I learned a lot about John Hus and the Husssites from this novel!
The Golden Cross takes place in 17th century Pacific Islands and the age of exploration with it's eagerness of new worlds and great fortunes. Filled with rich details and amusing insights into the Dutch culture and mindset, the author follows the life of Aidan, rises up from a hopeless existence as a barmaid to become the apprentice to a cartographer. She disguises herself as a boy to join a sea voyage and train as an artist.
Strengths of this series:
- well researched history gives these books a very detailed and rich setting
- believable characters without the black and white simplicity or exaggerated sentimentality of many christian novels
- historical romance without any "heaving bosoms" or any uncomfortable facts or details
Weaknesses of this series:
- the author is unable to satisfactorily explain how these girls are able to live among men, disguised as boys for such a long period of time. A new wardrobe might allow a 20 year old woman to hide among men for hours, but certainly not months or years. The author seems to recognize her inability to explain this and leaves us to just accept the fact unexplained.
- "Lili" in book 2 - her "conversion" stretched the limits of credibility
Recommendation: If you're looking for good quality Christian historical romance, this fits the bill!