I enjoy historical fiction, it always seems to pique my interest in knowing about the time period I am reading about, and sometimes even seeking out non-fiction to fill in more background. One (of many) time periods that I will not claim to have too much background in is biblical history. I know some of the basic stories, but I was not familiar with Deborah’s story before being offered The Triumph of Deborah to review by the author, Eva Etzioni-Halevy.
Deborah is the leader of the Israelites, well-respected for her guidance and her council. Following growing tensions with the Canaanites, Deborah goes against her husband Lapidoth’s counsel and calls upon the warrior Barak to battle against the Canaanites. Lapidoth is aware of Barak’s reputation with women, and casts Deborah out of his house with a decree of divorce. This story follows Deborah from the battle and beyond through her life and her interactions with those around her.
But this book is not just Deborah’s story, in fact it is more the story of Barak and his life following his victory over the Canaanites. As was customary, after the Canaanite’s defeat, Barak not only divided up the wealth, but also the Canaanites, after he freed the Israelite slaves that were being held by the Canaanites. Barak took for himself the Canaanite King Jabin’s beautiful daughter Asherah, the widow of the Canaanite warrior Sisra, to be his bride.
To help the freed Israelites, Barak also offers jobs in his home for a number of freed Israelites, including Nogah, who is the daughter of an Israelite slave and King Jabin (although many, including Barak, do not immediately know this). As Nogah spends more time with Barak, she falls in love, and is heartbroken that Barak intends to marry Asherah, her half sister.
All of these stories intertwine in the book to create a compelling story. I found each character interesting and wanted to know more about them individually, especially Nogah. Throughout the book, she experiences the most character development — from being the daughter of a slave, to flourishing with education, to falling in love, to heartbreak and beyond. But it was not just the stories that I enjoyed, but the writing. Etzioni-Halevy’s style blended history and dialogue into a nice and interesting mix (although the sex scenes were a little cheesy) that kept me interested until the last page.
I received this book for review from the author.