An immense Biblical novel, based on a thin and tenuous thread of biographical and historical record, this- despite its length-manages to sustain reader interest. Most of the factual outline is found in the books of Samuel- and a cruel and ruthless and bloody record it is. Rizpah, whose story this is, appears only in passing in the Biblical text, as one of Saul's concubines. Charles Israel has expanded this to create a plausible portrait of a seductive woman. She appears first as a girl of fifteen, on her betrothal day -- a day which saw the onelaught of the Philistines, the wiping out of Rizpah's Hebrew household, Rizpah herself taken as a slave- and sold to one of the rulers of a Philistine tribe. Slowly her past is obliterated in the luxury of her present, until once again she survives a holocaust, once again becomes one of her own race. Abner, Saul, David -- successively fall victim to her seduction; she becomes a vital influence in the changing pattern of Jewish history, and a victim recurrently of the violence and the tragedies, racial, national and personal. Intrigue, superstition, conflicting loyalties tear asunder the courts, the armies, the households and the individuals. It is a horrifying portrait of an era, and a revealing characterization of the principals that dominated it.