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Book Review

Challenge on the Hill of Fire by Marianne Hering and Nancy I. Sanders has been reviewed by Focus on the Family’s marriage and parenting magazine. It is the 10th book in the “The Imagination Station” series.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Cousins Beth and Patrick travel in the Imagination Station to Ireland during the time period of St. Patrick. He is teaching the people about Christianity. On their arrival, druids kidnap the cousins. They are put with other prisoners and are to be taken to King Logaire. The cousins learn that the druids control people through fear. They oppress them and use them for sacrifices.

Beth, Patrick, a girl named Caera and her father escape when the cart they are in cannot make it over a fallen tree. Caera and her father fear the druids, who put curses on people. Patrick prays for help, and Tristan, who introduces himself as a friend of the bishop, appears.

They follow Tristan into the woods. Tristan prays for the Lord to protect them. A druid, Shane, looks for them in the forest but only sees deer. Tristan tells a chattering squirrel, Finn, to be quiet. He says the druids couldn’t see them because God is more powerful than the druids.

They travel though the forest and reach a road. On it, men are riding horses, and oxen pull carts filled with people who will be celebrating a feast at the castle. Beth picks up a shamrock and tucks it into her vest.

The five travelers join those going toward the castle. On the road, a man sings, dances and plays a harp. Caera explains that he is Dubbach, and he travels to cheer up people. Tristan says that God has called the bishop to Ireland to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Caera’s father does not trust the bishop’s new ways. Tristan tells the crowd that the bishop teaches hope found in Jesus. The crowd scowls and threatens Tristan. Dubbach tells Caera’s father about a job he can have working in the fields for the king.

Patrick sees Shane and an old druid driving a cart filled with people. To avoid capture, Tristan, Patrick and Beth run. They eventually meet up with Patricius, the bishop, later called St. Patrick. Patrick and Beth are invited to celebrate Christ with him.

The bishop intends to light a large paschal fire, which is similar to a huge bonfire. The paschal fire is an ancient druid custom, and they do it to honor their gods. The bishop is lighting the fire to show the druids that Jesus is more powerful than their magic, but he is breaking the law by doing this because only the king is supposed to light the fire.

It takes both Patrick and the bishop to light the fire because the wood is wet. The druids see the fire and approach it, led by Lord Lochru, the chief druid. Lochru asks who lit the fire.

The bishop says he and Patrick lit it. Druids try to douse the fire, but it continues to burn. Tristan pulls Beth away, and they hide. Soldiers arrive and tell the druids the king sent them to have the one who lit the fire appear before him. The soldiers take Patrick and the bishop to the castle.

In the castle’s garden, a girl places food on a carpet. It is Caera. She is the queen’s lady-in-waiting. She is preparing breakfast for the queen’s daughters. Tristan leaves Beth with Caera.

Two girls enter the garden and ask Beth to tell them about the bishop. Beth uses the three leaves of her shamrock to tell them about the bishop’s God — the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. She tells them God is the Creator of everything and explains that Jesus sacrificed himself for humanity. Ethne, one of the princesses, says this God of love is far better than the druid gods.

Patrick has been taken to the Great Hall, so Beth hurries there. In the castle kitchen, she sees Lochru pouring drinks into three chalices, dripping something into one of the chalices. Beth follows him into the Great Hall.

King Logaire and his queen sit at the head of the banquet table. The bishop stands in the center of the room. Lochru tells the king that the traitor who lit the fire must die. Then Lochru suggests the bishop, he and the king drink together. Beth steps forward, saying she is the bishop’s servant and will serve the drinks.

Lochru hands a chalice to Beth for the bishop. Beth whispers to the bishop that his drink is poisoned. The bishop suggests all three of them share his chalice as a sign of unity, love and faith.

Lochru tells the king not to drink. The bishop says Lochru has poisoned the cup, and Lochru says the bishop has poisoned the cup. The king remembers that Lochru brought in the cups, and Lochru is forced to admit that he meant to poison the bishop.

The king demands that Lochru and the druids leave the land because their laws are unjust. Then he tells the king more about Jesus.

The Imagination Station appears. Patrick and Beth leave. They are inspired to tell people in Odyssey about the one true God.

Christian Beliefs

Patrick prays for help. Tristan prays for protection and tells Beth God will deliver Patrick and the bishop from the king’s judgment. The prophet Elijah is mentioned. The bishop teaches the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection and how people can come to Him through faith. God, Jesus and prayer are mentioned often throughout the story.

The bishop explains to the king that God brings peace and truth, not lies and death. The king wants to see God’s power; the bishop explains that you must believe by faith, not tricks.

Other Belief Systems

The cult of the druids dominates Ireland. They use human sacrifice, slavery and fear to control people.

Authority Roles

Lochru is the druid’s leader. The king listens to Lochru until the bishop tells him about God. Tristan is a friend of the bishop and protects Patrick and Beth.


People are taken as slaves. There is talk of human sacrifice. Lochru puts poison in a chalice meant for the bishop.



Discussion Topics

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Additional Comments/Notes

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Episode Reviews



Readability Age Range

7 to 10


Marianne Hering and Nancy I. Sanders






Record Label



A Focus on the Family book in association with Tyndale House Publishers Inc.


On Video

Year Published





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