Thursday, September 3, 2009
Review: The Triumph of Deborah
Author: Eva Etzioni-Halevy
Publisher: Plume a division of Penguin Group (USA)
Genre: Historical fiction, women of the Bible
Trade paperback 355 pages
Book source: the author
In ancient Israel, war is looming. Deborah, a highly respected leader, has coerced the warrior Barak into launching a strike against the neighboring Canaanites. Against all odds he succeeds, returning triumphantly with Asherah and Nogah, daughters of the Canaanite King, as his prisoners. But military victory is only the beginning of the turmoil, as a complex love triangle develops between Barak and the two princesses.
Deborah, recently cast off by her husband, develops a surprising affinity for Barak. Yet she struggles to rebuild her existence on her own terms, while also groping her way toward the greatest triumph of her life.
The main plot of this book is the story between two sisters, Asherah and Nogah, from a Canaanite city, and their love triangle with the victorious Israelite army commander, Barak. Asherah is the legitimate daughter of the defeated Canaanite king, and Nogah is the King's illegitimate daughter by a Hebrew slave.
Both women have different views on the outcome of the war. Asherah is obviously devastated, whereas Nogah is filled with both joy and sadness. The fate of each sister after the war is quite different, and probably not what you are expecting. The story also relates how these sisters deal with their new lives and feelings after the war. They come to see each other's differences, and Nogah is a little more understanding than Asherah. She is a die-hard Canaanite, which is understandable. Nogah although she mourns her father, embraces her new found family and way of life. Don't forget that these sisters are also involved in a love triangle with Barak, which only further widens the gulf between them.
So, where is Deborah you may be asking yourself? You may recall from my previous post , that Deborah was a well respected prophetess and judge. Deborah was the one who called upon Barak to assist her in recruiting members from all of the Hebrew tribes to form the Israelite army. Although, well respected, Deborah could only do so much. It was also Deborah that was instrumental in bringing about a peace treaty between Canaan and Israel. The peace lasted 40 years. Real leaders do what needs to be done regardless of the personal consequences, and this applies to Deborah as well.
Deborah also experiences discord in her own life after the war. She handles it as well as any woman could. Things do work out for her in the end. Come to think of it, all of the women in this story eventually get a life that works for them. They are very strong women who endure many trials and tribulations with grace and dignity.
Also contained in the story are some Hebrew traditions and ways of life, and rather seamlessly too. They are a part of the story just like the wonderful descriptions of the palaces, events, and clothing. The relationships between the characters are all very interesting and different in their own respects, and by the end of the tale everyone matures, or comes into their own. Most of these characters start out with very raw, visceral emotions, but they grow up and learn how to control their emotions. They learn about life.
My Rating: 85/100