Trevor S. Raymond is a teacher and librarian with the Peel Board of Education and editor of Canadian Holmes.
From the Old Testament book of Judges, which recounts adventures and romantic tales of the Israelites in the generations after Moses led them to The Promised Land, Charles Ewert has taken the story of their fight against the Canaanite King Jabin, or more specifically against Jabin’s military commander, Sisera, and fashioned a readable narrative that freely blends religion with sex, intrigue, and violence. The tone is set early; the biblical characters Barak and Jael (who meet only at the end of the Judges account) meet in chapter one when he saves her from rape, and a bloody fight ensues. When Sisera appears soon after, his villainy is instantly established: he is crushing a fly (“A smile spread over his face as he slowly tightened his fist. He heard the crunching of the exoskeleton...”). Much mayhem follows. Brother betrays brother. There is assorted torture, deadly personal combat, imaginative exhortation (“By the buttocks of Baal...”), hints of later middle Eastern quarrels (“Do you oppose me, Arab?”), historical distortion (C.B. DeMille, not the Bible, gives the name Ramses to the Pharaoh of the Exodus), and purple prose aplenty (“If it is madness, Barak, then it is a divine madness”).