He was so very tired, unable to make sense of love and hate and covering. The faces of girls tore out at him from the darkness … screaming … He lay back, The stars stretched out vividly. The warrior of the stars was visible now, his mighty bow drawn. Across the galaxy, the lion roared his challenge, and the warrior met it, for all time, placed there by Yaweh for men like him to see.
Day of War is the story of a restless mercenary and the warlord rumored to one day be king to whom he pledges his allegiance. Benaniah’s troubled spirit has not been satisfied with skirmishes with Amalekites, Philistines or even one-on-one contests with man eating lions. But in the mysterious warlord David, he senses something of destiny. Something worth living and dying for.
By way of disclaimer I must admit Biblical novels are not my favorite. Too often writers, in an effort to spin a good story, try to one-up the sacred account. Plus, telling a story in which anyone who has read the original already knows the plot and giveaways is seldom done with the effect of great fiction. In this case debut author Cliff Graham has not only managed to stay true to the Scriptural account and avoid the usual pitfalls of such novels but has raised the bar to level that will take quite a while for anyone else to surpass.
Once joined with David’s men, Benaniah soon becomes acquainted with what the troops call, The Powerful Three, Josheb, Eleazar, and Shammah. They have all been on a campaign far from their home base of Ziklag bolstered by iron weapons from the Hittite Keth, a master forger. We are warned in the preface that this is a story of war written by a man who has seen it firsthand. There are pulse pounding battles with killer lions, terrifying raids on helpless civilians and heroic charges against overwhelming odds. This is the story of David’s Mighty Men, a diverse and disaffected group of warriors held together by their leader’s charisma, military leadership and the unyielding sense he hears from a God that has become a dim memory to those he leads.
What sets this story apart, however, is the depth Cliff Graham plums, in exploring the nature of manhood and the relationships forged between those men in the most horrific of circumstances. Benaniah is a great warrior but he is also a man beset by guilt, insecurities and nagging frustrations. Many of David’s band of misfits simply follow him for the sake of plunder and women. But Benaiah perceives something more in the warlord many call The Lion. He sees a man of purpose with a supernatural destiny. He sees a man who hears a voice he wishes he too could hear and understand.
For those who say fiction from Christian publishers does not touch on the realities of life enough, I suggest they might rethink that after reading Day of War. This is a brutally honest book. It tells of broken men seeking to make some sense out of a broken world. It is the ultimate antidote for the whimsical and too often feminized version many have come to believe a follower of God to be.
This is the first of a scheduled five installments that begins in Day of War with an introduction to David’s mighty men as they fight as mercenaries alongside pagan kings and will conclude with Twilight of War which will explore the effects of a life time of war on David and his kingdom. What began as a self-published work in 2009 has now morphed into a fully contracted series with Zondervan, multi-media graphic novel, and an option for a major motion picture that is fast on its way to full production by no less that the producer of Spider Man fame. In other words, this is story is already a franchise.
All I can say is – It’s about time.
Reviewed by Tim George
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: June 2011
Review copy provided by Zondervan
This entry was posted on Sunday, July 10th, 2011 at 3:16 pm and is filed under Book Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
- No related posts found.