A fleshly Old Testament saga--tribal conflicts before and during the reign of King David--which carefully detours around any spiritual essences to travel the familiar route rubbled with colorful deaths, torture, and savage sex. Protagonist and narrator is Joab, nephew of David and his Commander-in-Chief. Joab gleams with a fresh coat of whitewash here, a whitewash urgently needed if one is to pay him respectful mind, in light of David's famous Biblical curse after Joab's murder of Abner; according to Wright, Abner was plotting for his own gain and manipulating David and gaul's only surviving son. When Saul dies (Joab had refused to join David in opposing him) and David is king, the two continue their off-and-on quasi-friendship, being of two minds as to what is the best method for uniting Judah. They are locked in mutual (and tiresome) dependency: ""He must give and I must take, I must offer and he must accept."" The bulk of Joab's tale is given over to a crammed series of his own exploits in battle and connivance, highlighted by his daring capture of Jerusalem for David, and his love for a lovely Philistine slave. There are no appalling rhetorical gaffes here, but the whole novel has an airless neutrality in speech and narration which casts no shadow of lingering import or revelation.