A fictionalized epic about the Israelites’ entry into the ancient Middle East.
Schenck’s (World’s Greatest Artists, 2011, etc.) novel spans the biblical Exodus of the Israelites and their violent journey through Canaan (the modern day Middle East), offering an extensive story of war, alliances and divine intervention. With a particular focus on the Old Testament’s book of Joshua (or Yeshua), the book chronicles the Israelites’ difficult, albeit triumphant, journey under Yeshua’s leadership. It brings the harshness of ancient battles to life, with slashing swords and constant, unmerciful conflict. Although Yeshua’s people believe that they’re acting under the one and true God, their shortcomings under biblical law regularly result in their facing God’s wrath. Some Israelites insist that they should all return to Egypt, but as they conquer the polytheistic, frequently amoral tribes around them, the epic marches on. The story includes descriptions of famous biblical scenes, such as the conquering of Jericho, and not-so-famous ones, such as the defeat of the Amorite King Sihon, and does a good job of interweaving various Old Testament elements into a larger whole. That said, it also often features grand speeches and that tend to state the obvious, which may not appeal to modern readers: “Yes, we Reubenites are the children of Abraham who was a child of Eber, a Babylonian. However, in spite of our shared blood heritage, we will fight alongside our Yaakovite brothers until you are dead, dead, dead.” Good guys tend to be really good, at least in the eyes of God, and bad guys tend to be really bad, as in a detailed description of the sexual depravities of ancient Jericho that make even the most decadent days of Rome seem tame. As a result, this retelling of these ancient stories offers little new complexity.
A violent biblical story, slowed by awkward dialogue and underdeveloped characters.