The year is 998 BC and we are travelling to the ancient Middle East. This is a fictional account of a few verses from the Old Testament in the Bible. The whole Lion of War series focuses on King David and his men but this first book not only centres on him but on other warriors too. This story is a relatively brutal account of the weeks leading up to when David takes over power as the King of Judah. The opening pages delve straight in and we meet a man loyal to David who is named Benaiah. Benaiah has been away from his wife and family for many years and has endured many battles. We learn about the relationships between the men who fight not only on David’s side but also those who stay with King Saul, and his son Jonathan, who just happens to be David’s best friend.
The descriptions of the battle scenes and the emotions Graham conjours up are amazing. A lot of the reviews at the beginning of the book use the word gritty and for a good reason. The details are gritty, he doesn’t pull any punches and you can certainly imagine yourself right there.
The reigning King, Saul, is at war against the Philistines. He is becoming more scared by the day and more fearful of David and his men who he believes are fighting with the enemy. He is also fearful as it has been prophesied that David will take over the throne from Saul and not his son Jonathan as would be the custom. Saul has been told by the prophet Samuel that he is no longer an effective leader and who has his own selfish interests above his people. Instead of trying to make things right with the people and David, he instead hunts him down and continues to glorify his own name.
The Hebrews are renowned men who fight against extraordinary odds and yet many don’t even believe or know the reasons they are at war. There are even mercenaries who fight for those who offer the highest wage.
Some of the best parts in this book, for me, are when the author writes about the women. Most men at that time thought women to be quite useless and stupid but Graham gives them a voice. Women were definitely considered chattel; they are just possessions who produce heirs, cook and clean. Graham has created women who are strong, try to get out of impossible situations and think! What a concept huh.
Apparently this book has already been bought for film rights and I imagine it to be R rated for the violence, not unjustly, in the war scenes. As you read it you can see how this will be a great movie; it will be full of frustration, despair but also desire and hope. An excellent book.