OH...how long ago did I start The Walking Drum ?
And I finally just finished it this past Sunday. It's 461 pages long, and while I enjoyed the book very much, it certainly did drag on in places.
I never thought I'd find myself reading a Louis L'Amour book. I thought he only did westerns, which are not usually my favorite. But in the spirit of trying to give myself a classical Thomas Jefferson education as suggested in the book A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-first Century, I read this book. I am trying to work my way through the list of books at this site: http://www.gw.edu/academics/certifications/5pillars.php
The Walking Drum is a historical novel taking place in mid evil times as the main character, Mathurian, travels his way across Europe and the middle east after discovering that his mother was killed, his village pillaged, and his father taken as a slave. His mission to find his father (not even knowing if he was alive at the time) and rescue him from slavery takes him across many lands and into many adventures.
Mathurian roller coasters from rags to riches several times in the book. The one constant through out the book is his thirst for knowledge, his love of culture, his desire to learn, his curiosity, and his awareness that knowledge truly is power; that his mind is his sword.
In the end, it is not his might, strength, skillful sword that allows him to find and rescue his father. Obscure knowledge that was very rare and highly valuable in those time is what allowed Mathurian to complete his mission. That lesson, along with the idea that it's the journey rather than the destination that matters, are the underlying themes in this book.
I kept track of new words I learned as I read, looking up their definitions and writing them in a notebook. I can't tell you how wonderful it felt to give myself this little task. It was so satisfying, on a really deep-down level, to enrich and expand my own repertoire of knowledge in this way.
I do recommend this book even for those who do not consider themselves history buffs, mid evil fans, or adventure lovers. The story is told so well that you'll be turning pages all night.
My children knew I was diligently reading this book and often asked me about what was happening int he story and what I was learning. I think this is one of the greatest benefits of having read the story. Hopefully my example of life-long reading will take deep root as i continue on my own TJed journey.