Title: Voice of the Ancient
Author: Connilyn Cossette
Series: The King’s Men, book 1
Major Themes: King Saul, Ancient Israel
Synopsis: Thrilled by the chance to prove himself a man, Avidan is eager to join King Saul in his first campaign as a king…but when his cousin disappears after the battle, he realizes it’s his responsibility to find him and return him safely to their family.
It’s been quite a while since I last read a Connilyn Cossette book, so when I saw this book was coming out, I begged the publisher for a copy to read. It’s fun when publishers grant wishes. After finishing the book I was currently on, I eagerly dove into this story. It was so much fun to be back in Connilyn’s Ancient Israel world, and though this book wasn’t one of my favorites by her, it was interesting to get a bit of a picture of what it may have been like to be an Israelite under King Saul’s early reign.
Avidan and his three cousins have always been close, and when King Saul decides to come to the rescue of the city of Yavesh in Gilead, his two oldest cousins decide they must do their part and join Saul’s army. As Levites, Avidan and his father are exempt from military duty, but Avidan longs to prove himself as a man and do his part to protect Israel from the Ammonites. Sneaking out in the middle of the night might not be the most manly way to go about things, but Avidan is determined…and, as it turns out, their youngest cousin, Shalem, has also decided to go with them, even though he is far too young to take part in the battle. When Shalem disappears soon after the battle takes place, Avidan blames himself and takes on the responsibility of tracking his cousin and bringing him safely home.
Meanwhile, Keziah, still grieving her mother who died several years ago, finds out her father has promised her in marriage to a neighboring clan leader. That might not be so bad, except that as the days go on, she comes to realize that her soon-to-be husband, who is at least twice her age, is a cruel man who has been known to kill people that displease him. Her father doesn’t seem to care what happens to her, and Keziah’s life is left reeling—until a series of events gives her a chance at freedom. She knows she’ll be safe if she can find her way to some distant family she’s never met, but will she—a girl on her own who has grown up as a rich leader’s daughter—be able to survive the hazardous trip?
I enjoyed a lot of Voice of the Ancient. There were bits I struggled with, such as people eating dairy products and meat in the same meal, and an unmarried couple traveling alone together (neither of which, I believe, was allowable under the Mosaic law). Because of those two things, I felt like I was jerked out of the story several times.
But there was so much to love, too. Characters who genuinely tried to serve the Lord, even when they were stuck in a pagan culture (Imati, for example—she hardly gets any on-page time, but I loved her, anyway!). Sweet romance. Gallantry. Mystery and high-stakes adventure. Courage. The fact that Moses’ burial place was part of the story (so neat!). Creativity. A storyteller as a main character. Characters who learn more about God and how to trust Him, and who have a growing respect for their parent’s teachings because of different experiences.
This book was a fast read for me, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in the series. This may not have been my favorite of Connilyn Cossette’s books, but it was still a delightful read and shows great promise for what is coming next. King Saul’s reign has always intrigued me, and apart from one brief glimpse into that era with Francine Rivers’ The Prince, I haven’t read any other books set at that time in history. If you like historical fiction with a bit of mystery, adventure, and sweet romance, I’d recommend this story.
I was given a complimentary copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: Curse or a variant is used in ch. 1, 4, 13 (three times), 19, 21, 27, 29 (three times), and 31 (three times). Swear is used in ch. 19 and 27. “By the heavens” is used in ch. 20. There is lying in ch. 5, 8, 16, 22, 25, and 27. Several times, there are mentions of a scar that was evidence of a blood-brother pact. In ch. 2, there is a brief description of a butchered animal, a brief retelling of the story from Judges of the woman who was raped and killed, and a discussion about what battle looks like. Someone remembers an accident that caused a woman’s death in ch. 3. A man intentionally hurts a woman in ch. 5. Someone remembers being kidnapped and people being killed in ch. 6. Someone recalls a woman being killed in ch. 9. A battle is described in ch. 11, with people being killed (somewhat gory); there is a bit more description in ch. 12. Someone is attacked and beaten up in ch. 13. Someone threatens someone else with a knife in ch. 14. People encounter men whose eyes were gouged out in ch. 16. Someone is injured in ch. 21, and people almost drown. People are threatened by arrows in ch. 23. Someone tells of people who died defending their tribe in ch. 25. Someone is kidnapped and their life is threatened in ch. 27. Someone is knocked out in ch. 29, there is a fight, and several people are killed. Men get drunk and someone tells a lewd story in ch. 30 (mentioned, not detailed). There is a fight and people are killed in ch. 31 (somewhat gruesome). Someone tells about finding a dead man in ch. 32.
There are references to a man forcing himself on women, and a woman tells of being used as a concubine in ch. 9. In ch. 18, a woman thinks of the possibility of being forced into someone’s bed. Throughout the book, a character thinks about and prays to a Canaanite god; occasionally, there are references to other gods. Temple prostitutes are mentioned in ch. 23. Multiple times, from ch. 17 on, there are references to an unmarried couple traveling alone together (nothing wrong happens, but I don’t believe this is Biblical). Several times, including ch. 30, there are mentions of an unmarried couple sleeping close to each other. A man thinks about a woman’s body briefly in ch. 25. There is a mention of “physical oneness” in ch. 32. Unmarried characters touch in ch. 16, 18, 20, 22, 23, 29, and 31. A married couple kisses in ch. 33.
Reading Independently—Ages 15 and Above, Adults