Probably not. This is the story of David. Oops, I should probably say “Dahveed”.
Dahveed is a series of six books (four published, two still to come) by Terri Fivash, which details and expands upon the Biblical account of David. It starts out when Dahveed is still a boy, describing with gusto the atmosphere of ancient Bethlehem and Israel, and continues until presumably his death. (At least that’s my guess, because it’s not finished yet.)
As this is a series, I will only briefly touch upon aspects of it instead of doing a full out review.
The adherence to the source material (a.k.a. the Bible) is exemplary, as the author never changes and deviates from what happened. (Something the Hobbit films could learn from!) However, the books do differ from other widely held opinions such as Jonathan and Dahveed being the same age, and Goliath being actually nine fee tall.
The main theme of the first three books is all about how Yahweh is preparing His Mashiah, or anointed one, to become king over a currently disjointed and shattered people. Dahveed must go from being an unclaimed son and lowest among his clan, ignorant and despairing of value in himself, to being a man who trusts wholly in his God. Only then can he lead the people of Israel.
But the journey is difficult. King Shaul is possessed by demons, Philistines are constantly raiding and the inner turmoil which has plagued him all his life does not stop instantly. But Yahweh knows what he is doing. Jonathan is a man willing to sacrifice his family, his throne and his life for Him, and Dahveed will need such a friend.
The turmoil of Jonathan presented through these books is one of the most interesting and gut wrenching parts. You can feel his shame for his father’s actions burning inside him, alongside a fierce love and desire for approval.
But Jonathan will not hesitate to do what is right, even if it means betraying his father, an action that pains his soul like no other.
But this being the Old Testament, what is right is not always clear. Is it right to kill a man for showing disrespect? Or sell a man and his family to pay off his debts? What about harvesting two hundred Philistine foreskins as a bride price? Multiple wives and concubines?!
Yes. Back then in the covenant between God and the Israelites, it was, and the author does not shy away from such things.
Battle is an integral part of the story, and Dahveed transforms from a shepherd training with Habiru, to general of Shaul’s armies. Hundreds are kill in pitched battles, more in ambushes, duels, and raids. Despite the violence, this book does not feel violent or gory, but merely shows events back then as closely as possible as to what would have actually happened.
Which brings me to a different type of darkness. Demons.
As it is said in I Samuel, King Shaul is in fact possessed by an evil spirit. This series does not shy away from that fact, and more than once has the power of Yahweh stretched to battle that demon through Dahveed. Obviously no real match, but still terrifying for Dahveed and Jonathan. Additionally, the Moabite god Kemosh is shown to be another demon, one that a character worships and makes sacrifices to.
Nothing offensive is shown, although Jonathan does take a concubine and later a wife, while Dahveed, shy, humble, bashful Dahveed, marries several women. Ugh. As can be expected, no swear words of any kind make it into this story.
From a literary standpoint, Fivash has an enticing and easy reading style, making for an enjoyable book. However, like many good and enjoyable authors, her books take too long to get where they need to be, and especially in the first two books, seem to repeat themselves to often.
Character, not plot, is her strongest asset, but occasionally the responses of characters (usually during happy times or events) seem forced, not earned.
Another problem is the names. They’re all Biblical names, and sometimes one name is assigned to multiple characters. (Not her fault, that’s how it is in the Bible.) Once Dahveed starts assembling his outlaws, the names come flying too fast and thick to believe. Remember, this is coming from a guy who can read The Silmarillion without batting an eyelid.
Enjoyable and overall enlightening was the conclusion that rose in my mind after completing book three, which, by the way, is my favorite of them. At times different from what i had imagined, but so true to what it should be. But the ultimate end of it is to show how ordinary people, lowly, hurt people when resting in the hands of the Lord can acheive marvelous, spectacular things. Honor that comes from man may be stripped away, but honor from Yahweh is eternal.
As an aside, Terri Fivash has another book, Joseph, that I will be reviewing later this summer.