Debut author Gorn delivers a biblical historical novel about the Battle of Jericho, focusing on the Jewish conquests of Canaan and the people those conquests affected.
In this ambitious and densely populated text, the narrative shifts among many points of view—from leaders to soldiers to the feeble to the young—in an attempt to provide a comprehensive picture of a complex region and its peoples. At the novel’s outset, Joshua has replaced Moses as the Hebrew leader, a near-impossible position to fill. Meanwhile, the people of Jericho ponder whether a Jewish army actually exists. Readers familiar with the biblical account may enjoy Gorn’s extrapolation from the Book of Joshua, although the author does gently question why God finds it necessary to punish women and children in acts of vengeance. The novel depicts a wide range of characters on both sides, including a foot soldier guilty of rape and a young man coming to grips with his mixed heritage, and presents many issues which continue to have resonance in the modern age. The novel is at times an illuminating read, but it is not without flaws; in particular, the large cast creates a scattered narrative, and, as a result, the gritty reality of the world they live in never quite comes to life. Although the novel does tackle important, compelling philosophical ideas about God’s relationship with morality and the nature of Judaism, the overall story unfortunately loses momentum along the way.
An intriguing, if uneven, take on a biblical tale.