You've been a lifeline when I've been at the point of drowning. And believe me, I know a thing or two about drowning. In water, and in sorrow.
1940: Austrian refugee Karl Lang has lost everything―his country, his home, and his family. All that is left to him is a burning ambition to see the Nazis defeated. Desperate for work and a way to help the war effort, he finds the one place that will take a refugee like him: a supply steamer traversing a deadly path past enemy U-boats.
Since their first meeting, Millie Stevens has felt an undeniable connection to Karl. As the war rages, she shares his determination to oppose the Nazis and finds work at the British codebreaking center at Bletchley Park. There she uses all her intellect and determination to break German codes and read U-boat transmissions―or risk losing the man she loves.
Rolf Denhart will do anything to defend the Fatherland, including long patrols in a cramped U-boat. But rumors from Germany leave him uneasy, forcing a choice between loyalty to his homeland, the safety of his family, and his peace of conscience.
In the midst of war, three lives are woven together to create an epic tapestry of love and loss, joy and pain, sacrifice and courage.
Thoughts & Feelings
There are some stories that hit you straight at the heart and stay with you for a long time. Karl's story is one of those novels. There is so much to love about Codes of Courage and so much that I cannot say because of spoilers. But if I could only tell you one thing it would be that A.L. Sowards has crafted a beautiful and heartwrenching story that will stick with you for a long time.
I finished reading Codes of Courage about four days ago and I have still not been able to get over some of the moments in this book. There is just something about it that has stuck in my mind and heart and made me think of this story and physically reread passages. Definitely a favorite of mine from the entire year of 2023. I feel like I can confidently say that even though it's only October.
As with most of the novels I've reviewed by A.L. Sowards, one of my favorite things about Codes of Courage was that we got to see the story from both sides of the war. Not necessarily Millie and Karl's story (although we do get both of their perspectives as well) but we see the fighting from both sides. I love that Sowards gave Rolf (the German U-boat soldier) the perspective that she did. It was interesting to learn about u-boats and all that went into being a soldier on them. This book lead me down a lot of rabbit hole researching and I loved how much I learned. One thing I'd never thought of was the oxygen supply...or showering...and it was interesting to see how Sowards introduced those small things that made the situations and scenes come to life. I also loved that we got to see a lot of the same moments from Rolf and Karl's viewpoints. It was neat to have a kind of fly on the wall, overarching viewpoint while still being emotionally invested in characters we know so well.
Within this favorite thing, I really loved that we got to see Rolf and his wife hear about the disappearances of the Jewish people in their community and then across Germany. To watch them sift through facts and rumors and struggle with having to decide if they belived the fuhrer. I'll share just one of these moments with you:
He didn't want to question everything he was told, but maybe Frieda was right. If the fuhrer was also right, then his actions would stand up to a bit of mental scrutiny. And if the fuhrer was wrong...heaven help them all.
I also loved Karl and Millie and how much of their relationship was woven throughout this novel. Throughout Codes of Courage A.L. Sowards has woven in letters or sections of letters that Karl and Millie wrote to one another. It was not only a fantastic was to pass huge gaps of time but I felt like we got to know Karl and Millie so much through their letters. It helped us see their relationship grow, even though they physically don't spend much time together. Each of the letters was beautifully written and it made my heart so happy every time the letters were interrupted with a telegram. I may have cheered a little inside each time Millie received a telegram saying Karl was in port and they could see each other.
I would love to share so much more but as I said earlier, spoilers. And I absolutely refuse to spoil this amazing book for you. You will laugh, cry (ugly cry, you'll need tissues), and learn so much about WWII. It's an amazing adventure and you will love every single moment of it.
Content & Trigger Warnings
Codes of Courage is a WWII novel and does have quite a few scenes focused on Naval battle. Ships are sunk, people are injured, and those that do not survive are mentioned. There is nothing graphic included in any of these scenes. It usually states that no pulse was found or that there was a head wound. A.L. Sowards does a great job handling these moments.
Title: Codes of Courage
Series: Falcon Point Historical #1
Author: A.L. Sowards
Heirs of Falcon Point
This series is a little different because it has branches. However, no matter which branch you take you need to start with this one.
Codes of Courage
This is the first book in the Falcon Point Historical novels. These novels will all be focused on the stories of the three Lang children mentioned in the WWII section of Heirs of Falcon Point.
The Danger with Diamonds
From an Unknown Sender (releasing Nov. 2023)
These are the first two books in the Falcon Point Suspense series. They focus on the grandchildren that we meet and follow in Heirs of Falcon Point.