Author: Elizabeth George Speare
Genre: Historical Fiction
Description: Eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin has endured a life of unbelievable
hardships. At the tender age of eight, Daniel witnesses his father’s
and uncle’s crucifixion by Roman soldiers. His mother also dies shortly
thereafter. Daniel’s younger sister, Leah, is so traumatized by their
deaths that she appears to lose her mind. Daniel’s grandmother, poor and
elderly, is unable to support the children, so she is forced to sell
Daniel to the town’s blacksmith, Amalek.
Daniel works for Amalek for five years but then escapes. He flees to
the hills above Galilee and becomes a member of a rebel group led by the
zealot Rosh. Rosh despises the Romans who occupy Israel. It is his
mission to drive them all from the land.
Daniel too is consumed by hatred of the Romans. He makes it his
mission to kill as many as he can in order to avenge his parents’ deaths
and to pay them back for the havoc they have wreaked on his country.
The longer he spends with Rosh, the more Daniel’s hatred grows. But he
begins to hear about a man who has a different message, a message of
love and tolerance. However, Daniel faces a long battle before he can
give up his vow of hatred. He even puts his friends as well as his
sister in danger. It seems that he will destroy them all in his
single-minded pursuit for justice, but gradually, the words and actions
of Jesus help Daniel understand that only love has the strength to “bend
the bow of bronze.”
I first read this book because it was required for school. I started reading it just to get it over with . . .and it ended up become one of my (many) favorite books! There are some cautions, especially for younger readers. There are quite a few scenes of violence against the Romans and Daniel's sister, Leah, is possessed by demons. (She is healed by Jesus near the end of the book.) It is a powerful book about forgiveness, mercy, and "not returning evil for evil, but overcoming evil with good"
Have you read it? What did you think? I'd love to hear!