Sally’s Rating: 3.5/5
The Bronze Bow was a book I was apprehensive about picking up since it was historical fiction that featured deep religious overtones, but once I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down. Elizabeth George Speare tells a compelling story about a Jewish boy who is looking for vengeance in first-century Judaea. While living as an outcast, David begins to hear about a new messiah giving sermons and finds that his singular drive to vengeance is beginning to be tempered by something else – love and friendship.
The supporting characters were this book’s greatest strength. The siblings Joel and Thacia were my favorite characters as they were wise and thoughtful while still being young, impetuous and eager to fight. What stands out about this book is that all the characters have their own backgrounds; their lives do not simply revolve around Daniel’s character. They each had their own motives and never went along with whatever Daniel says without asking questions.
Daniel’s character grew in leaps and bounds as he goes from a lone, outcast avenger to a loyal man with a code. He is deeply flawed and is oftentimes awful to the people closest to him. Though Daniel’s character saw tremendous growth, I hated that he couldn’t come to his final epiphany on his own. The main theme of the story had to spelled out to him by a one-on-one talk with Jesus. It took me out of the story a bit since I felt like there were subtler ways to go about doing it. I wish Daniel would have been able to come to his conclusion on his own.
His sister, Leah, is the one character that fell flat. Her whole possessed by demons schtick was a bit over-the-top, and her character development was unbelievable as she changed from a slowly recovering girl to timid withdrawn person at the drop of a hat. She felt more like a plot point whose sole purpose was to create moral conflict for Daniel, as well as providing a way to bring Daniel and Thacia together.
Surprisingly, Jesus was not in the novel as much as I thought he would be. His influence can be seen from the fringes as Daniel attends some of his sermons, and Daniel’s thoughts often stray back to his teachings. The biblical setting creates a tense atmosphere and knowing the eventual turn of events in real history allows the reader to take a more critical look at the time period.
The Bronze Bow was an exciting story that had great potential until the final few chapters. It didn’t get overly preachy, but there was still enough sermonizing and moralizing that may turn some readers away. For avid readers of Christian historical fiction, The Bronze Bow succeeds in capturing the sentiment of the time period while presenting a deeply flawed hero in the form of an angry Jewish boy whose only thought is to avenge his parents by killing any Roman he crosses paths with.