Sunday, September 14, 2008

Review: The Triumph of Deborah

Summary: 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.

Filled with brilliantly vivid historical detail, The Triumph of Deborah is the absorbing and riveting tale of one of the most beloved figures in the Old Testament, and a tribute to feminine strength and independence. -- Plume Adult

I had seen THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH by Eva Etzioni-Halevy pop up on a few blogs recently, and I made a mental note that the book looked like something I would enjoy. Much to my surprise (and joy), Ms. Etzioni-Halevy contacted me and asked if I would be interested in reading her latest novel. You probably know me well enough by now to know that I jumped at the chance.

I haven't read a lot of historical fiction based on the bible, but the few that I've read I really enjoyed -- THE RED TENT AND JEZEBEL (my review.) I can know add THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH to that list! I thought this was a fascinating book, and I found it extremely well-written.

I wasn't really all that familiar with Deborah before picking up this novel, but I was very impressed with her story. I have to admit that I didn't think women were very highly esteemed in the Old Testament; however, I recently participated in a bible study and learned about the incredible things that women did in those times. Deborah is one of those amazing women -- she was an esteemed leader who helped the Israelites defeat the Canaanites. She was prophetess and judge who was truly a respected and powerful woman . Her story is fascinating!

This book was not only about Deborah, but it was also about the daughters of the Canaanite King that the Israelites defeated. While each of the women were very different, they were all tied to the same man Barak. Because of this love triangle, there was a natural opportunity for jealousy and bitterness between the women. As a result, THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH had a little something for every reader -- sex, romance, war, etc.

While I definitely enjoyed the story and the characters, I think I most enjoyed the book because it ultimately showed the strength and intelligence of women. Each of the three women in this book were very strong, independent women, yet each was vastly different from the others. I liked how the author chose to portray each of these women; and I found the ultimate message about the power and importance of women to be very uplifting.

I am amazed how much research Ms. Etzioni-Halevy must have done to write this book. All of her writing was based on the bible book Judges, yet she was also able to enhance this story to make it a very readable historical novel. In addition, I liked how she developed the characters -- they were so real to me with all of their flaws. If you would like to learn more about Ms. Etzioni-Halevy and THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH, you should take a look at this interesting Q&A and read a brief excerpt.

Ms. Etzioni-Halevy has written two other novels based on biblical women -- THE SONG OF HANNAH and THE GARDEN OF RUTH. After reading THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH, I would love to read both of these books. I have a feeling that any one of these three books would make for a terrific book club discussion. All three books have discussion guides available.

Also reviewed at:
Age 30+... A Lifetime of Books


Anonymous said...

Wonderful review, Julie.

I read and reviewed this recently and I agree with everything you said.

The author took what could have been a very dry story and made it readable and entertaining.

Glad you enjoyed it too.

Cheryl said...

Nice review. I enjoy reading your thoughts on books

Anonymous said...

Great review! This sounds like a great book. The characters sound very intriguing; I like books with strong female characters.

Eva Etzioni-Halevy said...

Hi Julie,

I loved your review and want to make a comment about something you mentioned in it: doing the research for THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH.

Not only was there an enormous amount of research involved, but I am fortunate to live in the land where it all happened. I visited most of the places described in the novel twice.

I found it espcially exciting to visit the king's castle in Hazor. Of course it stands in ruins today, but I could still see the stairs leading up to it, the throne room, etc. it was most inspiring for my writing.

Warm regards,


Alessandra said...

Great review! I read The Triumph of Deborah too and agree with everything you say.

S. Krishna said...

This book sounds great! Historical fiction based on the bible hasn't really been on my radar screen, but I'll have to check this one out!

janetfaye said...

I would like to read Beneath My Mother's Feet.

Thank you!

janetfaye (at) gmail (dot) com

Eva Etzioni-Halevy said...

Dear Commentators,

Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments on THE TRIUMPH OF DEBORAH and on the great review.

I love it when biblical characters and modern readers meet!