Friday, July 3, 2009

The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy

The richly imagined tale of Deborah, the courageous Biblical warrior who saved her people from certain destruction

In ancient Israel, war is looming. Deborah, a highly respected leader, has coerced the warrior Barak into launching a strike against the neighboring Canaanites. Against all odds he succeeds, returning triumphantly with Asherah and Nogah, daughters of the Canaanite King, as his prisoners. But military victory is only the beginning of the turmoil, as a complex love triangle develops between Barak and the two princesses.

Deborah, recently cast off by her husband, develops a surprising affinity for Barak. Yet she struggles to rebuild her existence on her own terms, while also groping her way toward the greatest triumph of her life.

First of all I have to thank author Eva Etzioni-Halevy for sending me her book. When she first contacted me I hesitated at first because I'm always a bit wary of reading books set in the Biblical period, in fact, till now I had only read one - The Red Tent - which I absolutely loved, and so I decided to give it a go. I'm very happy that I did. This book was an absolute page turner and I just couldn't put it down.

Although it is called The Triumph of Deborah the action revolves also around Barak, the warrior who defeated the Canaanites, as well Asherah and Nogah, the two daughters of the Canaanite King that he eventually marries.

Deborah is a Judge and a Prophetess of the Israelites, for years the Israelites and the Canaanites have been at war and after a first attempt at peace Deborah believes they will have to defeat the Canaanites so they can have peace. She enlists the help of Barak for the war but by doing so alienates her husband who divorces her. Against all odds the warrior defeats the powerful Canaanite army and eventually will invade and destroy the fortress of Jadin, the Canaanite king and bring his women as prisoners, Asherah, his youngest daughter and widow of Sisra, the army commander Barak defeated and Nogah, his daughter by an Israelite slave.

I found the relationship that each women forms with Barak very interesting. They try to stay true to what and who they are which is not always easy. While they are not always likeable we can understand their actions and worries. Deborah, who would like to have a relationship with him but knows that she must stay true to her role as a judge and prophetess, Asherah who finds it difficult to have any kind of tender feelings towards the man who destroyed her world and Nogah who is grateful that he saved her mother but is uncomfortable with her role in his life. In different ways they all show strength, resiliance and independence. Barak is usually more preoccupied with his wars and working his fields than women, his use for them is normally of a temporary nature, but as the women have to adapt to the changes in their lives so he will have to change his behaviour according to his feelings.

The story gives an interesting glimpse of the way of life at the time, both in palaces and farms, as well as about the status of women and the behaviour of men. I don’t know much about this period but I must say I am now curious and ready to go and do some investigation. It’s a very easy read with solid and interesting characters.

Grade: 4.5/5


  1. Great review Ana! I am always leary about reading books about biblical times and figures. I don't like to be "preached" too. I strongly avoid books billed as Christen lit.

  2. Dear Ana,

    thank you for your great review of my novel. If I had not written it, your review would make me want to read it.

    Dear Teddy,

    I assure you that my novel is far, far, from being preacy, nor is it Christian Lit.


  3. I'm like Teddy Rose - very leery indeed of novels that might have an agenda - but this book sounds wonderful! Thank you for posting such a thoughtful review.

  4. I received my copy of this book today! Yay!

  5. I also received this book from Eva and it is next on my reading list. Glad I won't be disappointed. There are many stories about woman form the Bible that I'm sure must be interesting.
    Great review!