post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: The Brickmakers
Author: Rebecca Martin
Major Themes: Anabaptists, Galley Slaves, Germany, Switzerland, Thirty Years’ War
Synopsis: Because of increasing persecution, Peter’s family moves from the mountains of Switzerland to the Palatinate in Germany to work on the estate of a Count.
As part of our study of world history, we’re reading books about the early Anabaptists. We started this series several months ago with the first book, A Captain for Hans, then took a break for awhile because there were some other books we needed to get through quickly. I kept getting questions, though, about when we would read the sequel, and had some happy people when we finally started The Brickmakers. After that, however, it took awhile for everyone to “get into” the story, although by the end they were wanting more and more. The consensus was that this series of books starts out slow, and then picks up the pace.
The Brickmakers begins some 40 years after A Captain for Hans. The Swiss Brethren had retreated farther into the mountains to escape persecution in the 1630s, but now, in the 1670s, the authorities are going after them again. Sixteen-year-old Peter’s father, Hans, a minister for the small group, has been arrested and was taken away from the family two months before the story began. Because of the increasing persecution, the band decide to move to Germany, which was devastated from the Thirty Years’ War, which had just ended. A few days before they left, however, Peter’s older brother and another man were arrested and taken away to the galleys.
The small group of Anabaptists set off on foot from Switzerland to the Palatinate in Germany, suffering much hardship along the way. When they arrived, however, they were welcomed into empty houses on a large estate which had lost its workers during the war. The Count who owned the estate had his own reasons for welcoming the weary band. Would the people whose faith had stood firm through severe persecution be able to keep their faith when they were suddenly given prosperity?
There is much to think about in this story. As the Anabaptists talk about and live out their beliefs, you will be challenged in your own life. You will cheer at times and groan in disappointment at other times, and marvel at God’s grace when trials come into the lives of the people. If you are interested in the Reformation and Anabaptist history, this is a great story to bring the period to life. I did have to wonder about the historical accuracy of some of the details, for instance, did the galley slaves actually have bunks to sleep in? Overall, though, this is a book that I recommend for young people to read.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, 12 – 15
Links to buy The Brickmakers:
AbeBooks: View Choices on AbeBooks.com
Keywords: Anabaptists, Galley Slaves, Germany, Switzerland, Thirty Years’ War
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