KONA, HAWAII - Christian Fiction - Fiction - History
Title: Day of War
Author: Cliff Graham
Read About this Author.
Rating: Must Read!
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing
Web Page: http://www.lionofwar.com/
Reviewed by: Eric Jones
I’ll admit it. Before I started reading Cliff Graham’s debut fiction novel, ‘Day of War’, I was a bit of a sissy. I had thin candle wax legs. My tunic was raggedy. And even the sheep would laugh when I told them to move. But now I’m as big as an ox, and when the sheep bah in protest I pick them up and hurl them with my teeth. Such is the testosterone induced frenzy that Graham’s fiery novel about King David’s Mighty Men is capable of.
Although written with a Christian audience in mind, and deriving its exploits from the biblical scripture of the Book of Samuel, Graham’s novel is one of a rare breed that manages to leap out with a ferocity that will ensnare non-Christian readers as well. ‘Day of War’ achieves this remarkable feat by regarding the Bible on its literary merits rather than using it as podium. And in doing so, is able to weave a remarkable story that inhabits the larger tale of David’s ascension to the throne.
This first book in the larger “Lion of War” series follows the story of Benaiah, one of the outlaws that David has recruited to help him take the throne. Benaiah has a wavering faith in David’s god, Yahweh, and has joined purely for the thrill of killing Amalekites. The details of Benaiah’s past are revealed throughout the novel, mainly during the intervals between war scenes where Graham cultivates a brotherhood among the many different nationalities of men that David has recruited.
A veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom himself, Graham seems to be no stranger to this type of soldier camaraderie. The heart of the novel lies in those intervals of rest between battles where the warriors huddle around campfires to discuss politics, women, and to harass one another. Each of these scenes is finely hewn into the larger plot without seeming extraneous and the men are presented in raw detail, both flawed and expertly skilled.
Although there is a great deal of misogyny in ‘Day of War’, it seems to come with the territory of dealing with ancient warriors. Graham does a remarkable job of presenting both sides of men, including David himself, who constantly ridicule their wives around one another, while exalting them in private and begging forgiveness for their bloody deeds. In doing so, Graham creates a seamless pattern of fiction and history that feels as real as if he were reporting live from the battlefields of Saul circa 1000 B.C.
From Benaiah’s opening encounter with a pair of ferocious lions to its final bombastic and bloody battle with the Amalekites, ‘Day of War’ moves with the same swiftness and adrenaline of the warriors that inhabit it. Every sentence is taut and the dialogue kept to a stoic minimum, reflecting the hero’s countenance. Somewhere between Frank Miller’s immortal ‘300’ and Stephen Ambrose’s sorrowful ‘Band of Brothers’ is where you’ll find the blunt traumatic force behind ‘Day of War’. Grit your teeth and bear down. You’ve never felt hurt this good.