Hello, everyone, and happy May! I unfortunately missed last week’s post due to life, but I’m back. I have actually been working a lot on my cover design. It’s not perfect yet, but I’m happy with how it’s progressing. It’s going to feature the main character instead of a dragon silhouette as I had originally wanted to do. I’ve read quite a few books lately, too, so I’ll share about them!
The Bronze Bow
I wrote an essay about The Bronze Bow for school, and as I picked it apart for symbolism and literary devices, I was able to appreciate the book a lot more. There’s a lot of irony and symbolism in the book. The most prominent symbol is a bronze bow. It’s a bit ironic that a book with a message of love would use a weapon as a symbol. The bow represents a task that someone can’t accomplish without God’s help. It’s pretty much impossible to bend a bow made of bronze, but Psalm 18:34 says, “He teaches my hands to make war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” It’s not David who is bending the bow in his own strength; it’s God who is guiding and strengthening him.
There’s a whole lot of situational irony as well, circumstances where an action has the opposite result of what is expected. The main character, Daniel, hates the Romans. (For good reason—they crucified his father.) This hatred, instead of fueling him to accomplish his vengeful quest, actually backfires and hurts those who are closest to him. The message of the book (at least in my reading of it) is that love is much stronger than hate and can accomplish the impossible. The message of hope at the very end of the book seemed a bit sudden upon my first reading of it, but I now think it’s very appropriate.
My first critique about The Bronze Bow: the use of the word “Palestine” instead of “Israel.” I understand that this may have been done to avoid offending certain interest groups or because that’s what it was commonly called when the book was published, but it’s not historically accurate. From my research, a more accurate term would be “Judea” since the region was not known as “Syria Palaestina” until 135 AD, and not known as “Palestine” until the 19th and 20th centuries.
My second critique (and this is from the perspective of a Christian) is the portrayal of Jesus. There was nothing especially wrong with it. He was wise and knowledgeable, but I didn’t notice any declaration of his deity or the real reason he came to earth (unless you count one instance of someone calling him the Messiah). “The kingdom of God” was mentioned, and it was definitely clear that Jesus came not to establish a physical kingdom by military conquest, but to create a spiritual one in the heart. Without including key tenets of the Christian faith, however, Jesus of Nazareth might as well have been merely a teacher, moral leader, or social reformer.
I don’t know if the author was a Christian, and it’s not really reasonable to expect her to include those details anyway since they aren’t necessary to the current plot. The story isn’t about Jesus’ life and ministry; it’s about a Jewish boy who learns that love is stronger than hate. The story might have packed a more Biblical punch if it had shown that God’s love alone can overcome deep-seated hatred. As it was, the story seemed to show that Jesus’ words were the source for a person’s decision to love, but it didn’t show why. Why would Jesus be the one to tell someone to choose love? If you can only bend a bow of bronze with God’s help, wouldn’t that imply that Jesus is God? That his words and encouragement are the catalysts to supernatural change in a person’s heart? That after this heart change, a person will be able to love with God’s love? I think this was what the book was lacking.
Perhaps I’m thinking too much about all this. Despite what I’ve mentioned, I did enjoy the book. It made me think about what impossible tasks I can only accomplish with God’s help. There are a lot of them, and trying to do them in my own strength is futile.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
I read part of this series years ago and enjoyed it. Recently, my family started reading it out loud, so I’ve been able to experience the adventures anew. Books with a touch of the absurd are always interesting. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, for example. That book is immensely absurd, but there’s something about it that fascinates you. Perhaps it feels like a dream that you had once, but forgot about. The same is true about Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Cressida Cowell’s How to Train Your Dragon book series. I only read a few of the books in these series, and the absurdity of them gave them a sort of charm. There comes a point when a book can become so implausible that it’s enjoyable. There is, of course, a fine line between an implausible book that makes you laugh and gasp and cry, and an implausible book that makes you roll your eyes.
This sort of fantastical literature isn’t my favorite, but even I have to admit that The Mysterious Benedict Society series is a gem. The humor in it catches you off guard and you find yourself laughing—not a mere pity chuckle like you would give a bad joke to make someone feel better, but a full belly laugh that leaves you gasping for breath. The conspiracies twist your brain up in knots, and when all is revealed, it gives you a sense of accomplishment and completion, as though you were the one to solve the mystery.
And as a friend of mine once said, a lot of the first book is strangely like stuff happening in the world today. Weird. But also cool.
I didn’t know if I would like this book at first, but the more I read of it, the more I grew to love it. It feels…realistic. I don’t know how else to describe it. Perhaps because I relate a lot to the main character, Esperanza. Not in the “I like fancy clothes and want to live like a princess” sort of way. In the “not knowing how to do stuff, but wanting to learn in order to help other people” which was how Esperanza behaved later on. The book showed that even the most spoiled or untrained individuals can step out of their comfort zones and learn to do hard things.
There were a lot of other themes and messages throughout the book, including racial and class prejudice. The story gave an honest presentation of those subjects and their effects on various groups of people, which I found really interesting.
I’d recommend all of these books to you to read! It’s almost summer, so I think you’ll have plenty of time to do so. Have a good day, friends!