Thursday, April 16, 2009

'The Triumph of Deborah'

by Eva Etzioni-Halevy
Fiction/Biblical, 2008
Plume (Penguin), trade pb, 350 p.
The richly imagined tale of Deborah, the courageous biblical warrior who saved her people from certain destruction.

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 and returns triumphantly with Asherah and Nogah, the daughters of the Canaanite king, as his captives. 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 Bible, and a tribute to feminine strength and independence.
I don’t usually read much Biblical fiction, or Christian fiction for that matter, although I loved The Red Tent when I read it several years ago, and I do enjoy good historical fiction. Needless to say then I’m not very familiar with the Bible so I didn’t know the story of Deborah beforehand, but I quite enjoyed reading about ancient Israel at this point in time and the conflict with the neighbouring Canaanites. I can’t say for sure, not having any background knowledge, but it certainly seemed that the author did a good job researching the time to create an accurate, plausible tale.

Although Deborah is the de facto leader of the Israelites, and it’s ultimately her story, her triumph, as the title of the book indicates, I was much more interested in the goings on in Barak’s household, and the love story unfolding there. I loved the character of Nogah, and even came to feel for the womanizing, brutal Barak as he grew and became a better person through his relationship with her.

Overall it was a satisfying read and one I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own. Thank you to the author, Eva Etzioni-Halevy, for the opportunity to read this book.

Author's website

First sentence: Two women were standing on high places, shielding their eyes from the blazing sun with their hands, peering into the distance in search of messengers from the battlefield.


My Rating: 3.5/5
(#20 for 2009, ARC Reading Challenge)

Also reviewed at:
caribousmom
B&b ex libris
Literarily
A Novel Menagerie
Book Addiction
Melissa's Bookshelf
Reminder: If you have reviewed this title, let me know and I'll link to it here.

10 comments:

  1. Nice review, Tanabata...and THANK YOU for the link to mine :)

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  2. Great review! I also really enjoyed this one, here's my review: http://heatherlo.wordpress.com/2008/10/02/review-the-triumph-of-deborah/

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  3. I really enjoyed the Red Tent too and I liked your review. If I saw this at the library I would probably pick it up based on your words.

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  4. So often Christian fiction is a huge disappointment to me; sounding trite where meaning is essential. (Did you see the film "Fireproof"? It had an excellent message with a very sappy delivery, in my opinion. Anyway...) I'm very interested in this book after reading your review. So many Biblical female characters are inspiring for me even today.

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  5. Know i am probably completely wrong here, but...
    I don't think Deborah is strictly speaking a Christian figure; i think she is Jewish. Know that the name is very popular amongst the Jewish community too. Guess anything/anybody old testement is actually Jewish....

    But maybe i'm just being picky...
    Or just plain wrong.

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  6. Wendy - You're welcome. :)

    heatherlo - Thanks for the link to your review, I've added it above.

    Staci - It's been a while since I read The Red Tent so I don't remember the details of it but I do remember that I really enjoyed reading it, and that it made me cry.

    Bellezza - No, I haven't seen the film 'Fireproof'. I'm not too crazy about sappy in any type of movie. Deborah was definitely a strong woman, especially for the time.

    MissSin - Yes, you're right, regarding this book and Deborah, it's essentially a Jewish story. I was trying to speak generally, since I don't usually read Biblical fiction or Christian fiction, and have tweaked my sentence above to hopefully make it more clear.

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  7. Glad you thought this one was good. I'll be starting it soon.

    --Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

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  8. Anna - I hope you enjoy it too.

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  9. Great review! I also reviewed it here:

    http://www.melissas-bookshelf.com/2009/03/review-triumph-of-deborah.html

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  10. Melissa - Thanks for the link to your review, I've added it above. I agree with you about the physical relationships and that the 'triumph' was somewhat anti-climactic, but it still kept me turning the pages! :)

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