Megiddo's Shadow


Author: Arthur Slade

Published: 2006

Genre: Young adult, war

About Megiddo's Shadow: In 1918, sixteen-year-old Edward Bathe lies about his age and joins the army to avenge the death of his brother.

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Review of Megiddo's Shadow

I could hear his voice reading bits of the newspaper to me, articles describing how Canada had bravely declared war alongside England.

"I'm gonna go," he told me a few weeks before his eighteenth birthday. "I wanted to tell you first. I'll break it to Dad tonight. You'll have to pick up the slack around here, but you're plenty strong enough to do that."

He signed up in Moose Jaw and wrote a letter home nearly every week. I'd memorized them all.

There'd be no more letters now. I grabbed the pitchfork and jabbed a seed sack, imagining it was a German. Hector was in the ground. Taken away from me. I stabbed the sack again and again, then slammed the fork against the wall.

Hector was dead and the war was still going on. This wasn't a time to lie around reading about it in Boy's Own Paper. I knew what I had to do.

...from pages 11-12

The following is an edited transcript of a discussion between KB, age 15 (interviewer), and LMB (interviewee) on 18 May 2009.

What's the title of the book?
Megiddo's Shadow by Arthur Slade
What's it about?
It's about a young boy, Edward. He's 16 and lives in Saskatchewan with his dad. His brother is fighting in World War I and they get a letter saying that the brother has been killed. So Edward decides he wants to join the army and go over there and fight, to get back at the Germans for killing his brother. He's young, only 16, and you have to be 18 to join the army unless you have permission from your parents. His dad says no way, you're not going, so he leaves really early one morning before his dad wakes up and lies about his age and they let him sign up.
Also, his father is really depressed and won't get out of bed.
Because he left?
Before he left.
Because his son died?
Before that even. He suffers from severe depression and there are times when he doesn't get out of bed for months.
What about the mom?
She's dead.
Does his father's depression get worse?
He doesn't know because his father won't answer his letters.
So something could have happened to him?
Before he leaves, he talks to the local Reverend and asks him to keep an eye on his dad. They arrange for some people to look after the crops and animals and for some women to bring in food. So the Reverend writes him letters every now and again to let him know how his dad is doing.
So his dad never answers his letters?
Do you think maybe he was mad at him for leaving?
Yes. He was mad at him but he was scared mostly.
He didn't want to lose his other son?
Right. His father had fought in another war and it messed him up and it's partly why he's depressed.
What's Edward's job in the army?
He joins the Yeomanry which is a mounted troop. He expects to go to France to fight but he gets sent to Palestine instead. So he thinks he's going to be fighting in the trenches in Europe and he ends up in the desert in Palestine with a horse.
Is Megiddo his brother?
No, Megiddo is a place, King Solomon's city. In the Bible it says, "And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon." That's where Edward is, in that area.
What year was this?
He meets a nurse?
He does. He meets a nurse who's older than he is. She doesn't know that because she thinks he's old enough to be in the army.
Was it sad?
Yes. Surprisingly sad.
Sad enough to make you cry?
Almost. That says something. Did you disapprove of some of the decisions he made?
Well, I disapproved of him going and joining in the first place because he was too young.
Wouldn't have been much of a book if he hadn't.
True. Other than that he didn't make a whole lot of dumb decisions.
What perspective was it written in?
First person.
Did you read this book because it was a Canadian author or because you were interested?
Both. I'd heard good things about this author so I wanted to read one of his books and this looked like a good one. I had no idea what it was about. I thought the cover looked like it would be more like Hidalgo with the race across the desert on horses. That's what I would have thought it was about based on the cover alone.
A race across the desert?
Yeah, on a horse. Because I don't see anything there that makes me think war. Maybe that was intentional though.
Did you like the book?
I did. It was surprising and sad and things happened that I didn't expect. I thought certain things would be okay and they weren't okay.
Did those unexpected twists make the book more interesting?
Yes, because they were unexpected. It didn't go the way I thought it was going to go and I always find that more interesting. Do you think you'll read it?
Am I old enough to read it?
Then yeah, probably.
It might make you cry.

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More Reviews

Lisa Prolman, School Library Journal, 27 November 2006
“Buy it because it is a powerful book that needs to be read.”
Todd Kyle, CM Magazine, 30 March 2007
“It certainly provides a fascinating look at men and war, seen through the eyes of someone who is really still a boy.”
Camille, BookMoot, 30 July 2007
“Moving, emotional and wrenching at times, this is historical fiction at its finest.”
Gabriel Gethin, 3 Evil Cousins, 24 August 2008
“This historical fiction novel about World War I is exceedingly excellent.”
Courtney, Once Upon a Bookshelf, 23 November 2008
“It was brilliant and just ... wow.”
J. A. Kaszuba Locke, BookLoons Reviews
“Arthur Slade has written a powerful story, portraying historical events with well-actualized characters.”


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Added 29 June 2009.
Updated 04 September 2013.