Strangely, when I picked up The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare, I was as skeptical as when I picked up The Witch of Blackbird Pond, also by Speare—but both books wonderfully surprised me! Always trust Speare’s books to have unassuming covers and astounding contents.
The Bronze Bow is a story about a young man who lived during the time of Jesus. Daniel bar Jamin is eighteen and lives with the bandits (that’s what the townsfolk call them) or the future liberators of Israel (that’s what the bandits call themselves!). One day, Daniel meets Joel bar Hezron, a boy from his old school. Soon Daniel heads for Ketzah, where he lived until five years before the story begins. In Ketzah, Daniel meets Jesus. When Daniel hears about the kingdom Jesus preaches about, hope surges through him. Will Jesus fight against the Romans? It takes a long time for Daniel to discover what Jesus was really saying.
In this story, Jesus was a mystifying character. He would appear in white clothes, his bearded face smiling with a radiant glow that seemed to be made of pure peace. Jesus taught people to love and forgive instead of seek revenge and hate. When I read this, I felt like trying to love and forgive was all I wanted to do. The Jesus whom Speare describes is the Jesus I picture: pure, true, and understanding.
Speare did a fabulous job handling the character’s emotions because the characters often had mixed feelings. Daniel often felt two emotions at once instead of only one emotion, so he was not a simple and undeveloped character. There were so many feelings mixed together to form different states of being that I had no problem accepting that Daniel could have easily been a real person. Daniel is torn between two things: his vow to defeat the Romans and following Jesus. Isn’t that so human? Often, we seem to want two things even if we know we can’t have both of them. Because Speare includes these two very important human characterisitcs, we can safely say that she is excellent with her character’s emotions.
Speare completely surprised me with this book and its deep characters. I love surprises! And with magical characters complete with complex emotions, The Bronze Bow is the one of the best surprises I’ve ever experienced!
You can buy this book here.