Book Review Series: The Throne of David, what Saturday’s Warrior & Da Vinci Code have in common, Mormon movies, my cute kids, etc.

The Throne of David

The Throne of David begins when teenage boys find a thirty-year-old, undelivered bag of mail. The authorities deliver the long lost parcels, including a letter to the prince of England. The contents of the letter spark a deadly chain of events on both sides of the Atlantic as the rightful heir to the British throne is called into question. The Throne of David is the first novel of Ann Farnsworth, a mother of ten who tells readers that “the stories that have been stewing inside my head as I washed dishes, cooked dinner and helped with homework these last 25 years are bubbling up and out of my fingertips.” But this novel is no reflection of the domestic life the author tells us she was living as she imagined the story. From the moment the teenage boys turn over the mailbag at the beginning of the first chapter, this novel becomes an adult adventure, much too harrowing for children, with characters chasing each other around the world, fighting for their lives, killing each other, and never washing dishes or cooking dinner.

I chose to read the Throne of David after reading some complimentary reviews at Amazon. One of the readers compared it to the Da Vinci Code. That piqued my interest. On her blog, Farnsworth says that the the Da Vinci Code is one of her favorite books, so perhaps she was influenced by it.  Personally, I didn’t feel like the books were similar, other than that both books have a lot of action (violence) and incorporate some elements of religious legend into the crime motive.

The Da Vinci CodeI don’t really enjoy reading violence, but I tolerate it when it is relevant to the plot and the plot is compelling. Maybe it is the compelling plot of the Da Vinci Code that inspired so many other books refuting its “truthfulness.” I read the Da Vinci Code because I was curious why so many people would busy themselves convincing the world that a work of fiction isn’t true. Isn’t that a given? Before I read it, I thought that maybe it was a novel written to appear like a history book, hence the confusion. Nope. It is a novel that reads like a novel. Over a decade later, I am still baffled by the Da Vinci Code controversy.

Saturday's WarriorIt reminds me of how all of my Mormon singles ward bishops used to talk about Saturday’s Warrior, a musical about Mormons that was written in the seventies. I can’t count the number of times my singles ward bishops solemnly bore testimony that Saturday’s Warrior is not true. Of course it is not true. The characters regularly burst into song mid-sentence. This is not the stuff true life is made of. And that’s too bad, because it would be a lot of fun if we did that in real life. My singles ward bishops were concerned that, since my generation of Mormons was raised singing along to charming romantic songs from Saturday’s Warrior, we believed in searching for our soul mates instead of, as they would have preferred, simply pairing off randomly with whomever happened to be sitting next to us in Sunday School and getting married already so they could close the singles ward and have their Sunday afternoons free again.

Saturday's Warrior 2016

Image from the set of the upcoming 2016 film production of Saturday’s Warrior

I just learned that they are making a new Saturday’s Warrior film and I am so excited! I checked out their Facebook page and was thrilled to see that they are setting the film in the 1970s. Good call, Saturday’s Warrior people! It belongs in the 70s. It makes sense in the 70s. There’s some birth control sentiment in it that applies to the kind of culture wars Mormons were fighting around the time I was (intentionally) conceived. It would feel anachronistic to try to place the film in the present, when most Mormons have made peace with family planning. Plus, 70s costumes are just fun.

Chess In ConcertIt reminds me of the musical Chess. For a long time, directors kept trying to set that play in the present day. But it was created during the Cold War and was about the Cold War and that is when it makes sense.

I hope the Saturday’s Warrior people ask me to review their film. Are you reading this, Lex de Azevedo? Please invite me to your preview. I’m a big fan. I don’t care what my singles ward bishops said. Better yet, invite me to your set. I’ll be so good. I’ll be nice and quiet and won’t even sing along like I do when I watch it at home. Although, I totally could sing along, because I have all the lyrics memorized.

Once I Was a BeehiveMy feelings are hurt because the Once I Was a Beehive people didn’t ask me to review their movie. What gives, Once I Was a Beehive? I would’ve given you a good review. I loved the movie. My daughter loved it too. She’s 10 and keeps asking me to get it for her for Christmas.

FreetownI wonder if the distributors are mad at me because no one liked my review of Freetown? It’s odd, because I liked Freetown and I thought I gave it a good review but it seems that I made the whole Mormon film community mad because of my only criticism of the film; I complained that there were hardly any women in Freetown. The scriptwriter, Melissa Leilani Larson, commented on my review and pointed out that it is a feminist act for a woman to write male characters, since many people still cling to the misconception that women can’t write male parts.

The Bishop's Wife (A Linda Wallheim Mystery)That’s a valid point. I thought about that as I read the Throne of David by female author Ann Farnsworth. Most of the heroes (and villains) in the Throne of David are male. The other mystery novel I read for this book series, the Bishop’s Wife, was easier for me to relate to because it had a female protagonist. There are women in the Throne of David, but at least in the beginning, they seemed to be more on the sidelines: victims, relatives or love interests. I felt like I was reading a book for men, and since I was not the intended audience, I felt distracted.

seven year old son

My often distracted son

Being distractible is a rather consistent personal failing for me. My family regularly points out to me that I get lost in my thoughts and sort of space out. Apparently, I have passed on this trait to my seven-year-old son. His teacher brought this up at his recent Parent Teacher Conference. I know exactly what they were talking about. At home, I’ll tell him to do something simple like put his shoes on and I’ll come back and find him staring into space with the task completely forgotten.


My outspoken daughter

My daughter takes after me too but a different way. She’s not quiet like my son. Earlier this week, she announced, “Mom, I started a revolution!”

“You did what?” I asked.

Her fifth-grade class is learning about economics with play money. Apparently, the teacher announced some hefty new taxes on the faux currency and my daughter objected. I quaked with motherly fear as she described a scene in which she and she alone stood up to the teacher, listed her grievances and told her that she was going on strike!

Luckily, this story has a happy ending. It turns out that the teacher was beginning a new Social Studies unit about the Revolutionary War and was actually trying to provoke a classroom revolt, Boston Tea Party-style. If it weren’t for my daughter, the lesson plan would have gone awry, because no one else protested.

“What do you call a person who stands up for what they believe in and doesn’t stop until people listen?” asked my daughter.

“An advocate?” I responded.

“Yes,” my daughter agreed. “I’m an advocate, like you.”

Other advocacy experiences haven’t gone quite as smoothly for my daughter, such as a certain incident with a playground monitor. I am trying to teach her to choose her battles. Especially since, as her mother, a lot of her battles with authority are pointed directly at me. I guess there is a certain poetic justice in that.

Comments on this post enter you into a drawing for our book give-away. So tell me, what do you think about the Throne of David or the Da Vinci Code or Saturday’s Warrior or Chess or Once I Was a Beehive or Freetown or the Bishop’s Wife or my two oldest children or anything else? (I didn’t stay on topic, so why should you have to?)

This is a part of the Exponent Book Review Series and Cyber Monday Giveaway. By making a thoughtful comment on this post, subscribing to the Exponent, or making a donation to Exponent II by sending a PayPal donation to, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of many books being reviewed! Check the intro post for information and terms. Entries accepted until the 5th of December 2015.

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April Young Bennett

April Young Bennett is the author of the Ask a Suffragist book series and host of the Religious Feminism Podcast. Learn more about April at

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9 Responses

  1. Mike says:

    Excellent review[s]! I laughed when I read about your distractibility (among other things). But you pulled it off! Everything connects somehow, which makes me happy because philosophically I believe that. Which makes me feel better about my own so called distractibility. My sixth grade teacher told my mom that he could set off a bomb next to me and I wouldn’t notice. Which probably would be true because I would have passed on before I realized what happened. Violence! The things teachers could say back in the day. But I wasn’t surprised. The man threw chalk and erasers if kids were talking when he was “teaching” (What was he teaching? You might ask). So as another teacher wrote, one of my favorite art professors, when I asked him to autograph a book he had published, and he asked back whether I wanted a personal note addressed to me or just his signature, and I said “Everything!”:

    “Dear Mike, Everything counts! -James Christensen.” And with a stroke of the pen, as you have with a keyboard, he turned distractibility into profundity.

  2. fMhLisa says:

    I have to say that I’m tired of books and movies with male protagonists. Also white people, so tired of reading about white people again. I read about several books yesterday by women that had few or no female characters and all I can say is that maybe it’s a feminist act for women to write men, but mostly I think it’s probably just internalized misogyny (again) with the women writing men because we all know only stories about men are really worth reading. Everything else is romantic trash or sentimental garbage, but also, I could just be feeling cynical and cranky, so that’s a thing too.

  3. Sarah says:

    Throne of David sounds like a great book! I admit I liked DaVinci code kind of. Though this sounds slightly nore interesting. And you sound like you have a great family! Thanks for sharing

  4. Cutest review ever! I love your point of view and your distractibility…

  5. ElleK says:

    I’m not even sure which aspect to comment on, but I love this post! Thanks for your thoughts on all of the above.

  6. Kmduff says:

    I love Saturdays warrior, excited for a new movie too! This book sounds fascinating. Love the whole post.

  7. Rachel says:

    My biggest feeling after reading this post was, “I just really love you.” Thank you for this post, and you.

  8. Emily says:

    I love the scattered nature of this review that still all ties together. 🙂

    I watched and really liked Freetown, but I whole-heartedly agree with your review and disappointment that there weren’t more female characters.

    Not so sure about the upcoming Saturday’s Warrior film, but willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. I’m glad they’re keeping it in the 70s. Somehow I think “Zero Population” just might not read quite as the author meant it if it were set in 2015. Then again, I sang along to my parents’ LP of the soundtrack over and over and over, so I’m sure some part of me is nostalgic for the music, at least.

  9. Kari says:

    I love that this book was written by a mother of ten. That means there is hope for me too. I too am tired of all male protagonists and want more for my daughters. Like another reviewer wrote for a different book, you can’t be what you can’t see.

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