Day of War

Day of War. Cliff Graham. Zondervan, $14.99 softcover (368p) ISBN 9780310331834 Army veteran and chaplain draws from deep research and experience in war to write one of the most fascinating yet under-documented stories in the Bible. Based on the exploits of the renegade band of “Mighty Men” of King David, this war novel has additional dimensions that make it unique for Christian fiction.

Descriptive of life in ancient near east and provides the history buff a biblically-based story that is not preachy but is actually quite gruesome: the exploits of a rag-tag band of men from different countries serving a soon-to-be-king.

Readers patient enough to plow through lengthy and repeated descriptions of setting and weather can find dozens of characters that help to paint a rare picture of life three millennia ago. Most of the story is from the perspective of Beniah, one of David’s Mighty Men, who fend off King Saul and helped David take his rightful throne. About Saul, who is losing his throne: “There was a breeze, a footstep, and the fire flickered again. And Saul knew he was alone . . . They found their king lying on his face, weeping.”

Otherwise provocative transitions are awkward. “Then it all changed earlier that evening.” Gets into the minds of people from nations surrounding Israel. An Egyptian muses, “Why would a man choose to follow only one god when there were so many other areas of life where he required their services?”

For what it lacks in a compelling tension and discernible quest of individual characters, it more than makes up for in developing characters longing for their homeland and seeking power in the textured ancient world setting. --Reviewed by Greg Taylor