Title: The Bronze Bow
Author: Elizabeth George Speare
Major Themes: Bible Times, Jesus, Romans
Synopsis: Daniel can think of nothing except his hatred for the Romans and revenging his parent’s deaths, but other things keep getting in his way and making him think.
The Bronze Bow has been a favorite of mine for many years. I’m not sure when I first read it, but I believe I found a copy at a secondhand shop when I was 10 or 12. I enjoyed it so much I looked for other books by Elizabeth George Speare at the library. Now, I’ve had the privilege of reading it to my own children! We’ve read aloud two of Speare’s other books, Sign of the Beaver and The Witch of Blackbird Pond, and thoroughly enjoyed them, too—especially the first.
Daniel has been living in a cave in the mountain for five years, ever since he ran away from the blacksmith he was apprenticed to. He hates the Romans, because they crucified his father ten years ago; his mother died, too, of exposure and a broken heart. Daniel’s sister, who lives with their grandmother, has refused to set foot out of the house or talk to anyone other than Daniel and their grandmother, since their parents died. Daniel lives only for revenge on the Romans, and he is sure that Rosh, the leader of the band who lives on the mountain, will free Israel from them. When Grandmother dies, Daniel has to move back to the village to care for his sister, Leah. Can he continue working against the Romans from there? Will he be able to keep his anger toward them in check enough to not be killed by them? And what about the new preacher who often spends time in Capernaum? He seems to be a dynamic leader, but Daniel has a hard time understanding him.
The Bronze Bow is a powerful picture of life in Israel at the time of Christ. Rebellion against the Romans was constantly seething just below the surface, and Jesus’s teachings of love and forgiveness were a new concept to many. I really liked the way the author made you feel as if you were present, and as puzzled at what was happening as Daniel was.
Listening Level—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults