I responded to a question about G. A. Henty’s books in general via email, and thought it worth including here:
I highly recommend just about all of the Henty books. Consistent themes throughout are honor, character, determination, self-discipline, and respect for women.
For a curriculum, I especially recommend Henty for tracing the history of England. If a reader were to read his books on English history chronologically, they would have a very good grasp of the entire flow of English history.
Henty does have some weirder areas which on occasion pop up. He has a low view of black people, not as less human, but as a culture having less character and determination. This appears on occasion in his books on India as well as his book on the American Civil War. Be aware that these views are not unusual for men of his era, and he might be seen by some as being more “modern” in this way. But it isn’t something to sugarcoat.
He is somewhat universalist, as in he believes that Allah and God are the same and as such, Muslims can go to heaven. This pops up in his books on the crusades, especially the Knight of the White Cross (one of my favorites other than that).
One of his rarer views is the appearance of the idea of “second sight”, namely that people can have a mental connection across space. He simply believes that it exists and is consistent with God’s order, but we haven’t explained it yet. This appears in The Tiger of Mysore and Rujub the Juggler most prominently.
I personally think that his views aren’t dangerous, and any well educated young man can discern these issues, especially if forewarned. For younger readers, I would recommend that the parents read the books aloud to the children to censor or discuss these topics.
Some of his books accurately depict the violence of some eras. By Pike And Dyke and In The Reign Of Terror are examples of this. I personally think it important that our youth understand the natural depravity of mankind so that we may better understand the universal need for salvation, however some are more sensitive to such things than others. Again, parental discernment is always important.
With the above said, I personally love just about everything G.A. Henty has written, especially these:
- A Knight of the White Cross
- Facing Death
- Winning His Spurs (or A Boy Knight)
- Friends Though Divided
- In Freedom’s Cause
- St. George for England
- True to the Old Flag (fascinating as it is about the American Revolution from the British perspective)
- The Dragon and the Raven
- The Lion of the North
- The Bravest of the Brave
- The Young Carthaginian (it is almost impossible to read this without making comparisons to the American political situation today. Absolutely phenomenal opportunity to discuss the “cycle of nations”.)
- With Wolfe in Canada (especially for the theme of undeserved grace)
- For the Temple
- In the Reign of Terror
- The Cat of Bubastes (look out for the universalism here)
- The Lion of St. Mark
- By Pike and Dyke
- By England’s Aid (part 2 to By Pike and Dyke)
- With Lee in Virginia
- By Right of Conquest
- Beric the Briton
- Rujub the Juggler (possibly Henty’s best storytelling, however it needs an older, discerning reader)
- In the Heart of the Rockies
- Wulf the Saxon
- At Agincourt
- A March on London
As long as this list is, I have actually eliminated books which I would like to include for sake of length. I would start with the above and then have at everything else in his corpus.
In my opinion, the best way to read Henty is electronically. All of his books are in the public domain, and the vast majority are available through Project Gutenberg. With the cost of a Kindle being what it is, it is probably the least expensive option. I personally read a ton of them on my iPod Touch and iPad.