Having read the Bible stories many times & having been drawn to David, the man after God's own heart, I couldn't wait to read this book. Though fiction, it follows closely what the Word has to say. Eleanor Gustafson has filled in the "gaps" nicely. Poetic license was taken in developing the story, but I did not see anything contradictory. Very well written & entertaining. Couldn't put it down.
Drawing directly from biblical accounts of Davids life, Eleanor Gustafson weaves scriptural and historical accuracy together with imaginative emotional nuances and interactions in The Stones, an epic work of biblical fiction. Gustafsons David is masterfully wrought. Illuming the heart and soul of a warrior poet, his passion, strength, bravery, and even ferocity lending themselves to his musical talent rather than the two aspects standing apart from one another. His inherent sense of deep loyalty, honour and love is offset by his all too human failings. A man like any other Davids sins are mercifully forgiven by God while the implicit promise of the Christs childs birth through Davids line remains, even through difficult times of chastisement from his heavenly father.The strong themes of military camaraderie, filial love and battle strategy will certainly ring true for men, creating one of the rare Christian novels that male readers will enjoy as much as the large, female readership of biblical fiction. David is no namby-pamby, and the brutalities of military life are quite evident in this version of his life. While not needlessly graphic for gores own sake, Gustafsons portrayal of war is realistic, and pulls no punches when it comes to the details of Davids violent, kingdom-conquering empire.Davids calling as a God-anointed warrior king during the Old Testament may seem foreign, even harsh to the sensibilities of New Testament Christianity. Ive often wondered what it was about David that made him a man after Gods own heart. Was it his heart for worship, his passionate longing, or repentant nature that led God to memorialize David in these terms, or some beautiful melody drawn for these aspects and more? Through The Stones I took one step closer to understanding and loving this mighty man who was much used and loved by God.
Eleanor Gustafson captured the essence of the books of Samuel and Chronicles, adding the perfect amount of humanity and realism to draw the reader into her beautifully told tale, The Stones. The story of the shepherd-boy son of Jesse who became King David is an absolute joy to read. Scripture comes to life in three dimensions and jumps off the page and into the readers imagination as the exploits of David and Jonathan are regaled in retrospect by the Levite musician, Asaph. Following David through his faith-filled stand against the Philistine giant through every trial, failure and victory on the way to being the greatest king of Israel and a man after Gods own heart, The Stones brilliantly portrays scripture with a bit of drama to whet the Christian fiction readers appetite for a wonderful story.Dont let the size of this novel intimidate you. It is completely worth the effort. It may be a bit long, but I believe it would be a wonderful reading group pick for those who would like to soak up the Bible along with their fiction. This is a terrific book!
This novel about King David and his mighty men is historical fiction at its best because it brings to life events that are presented in a very clinical and terse way in the scriptural accounts. Take a deep breath on page 28, because the action takes off and never lets up for even a minute until the last words of David on page 592. Although the main plot is completely defined by the scriptural account, the author uses her considerable imagination to describe the moment-by-moment unfolding of those events with raw and realistic emotion and energy. Her assessment of the personality quirks of the many players in the epic drama that was Davids life turned some of my notions on their heads. The culture and worldview of Old Testament Israel was clearly not that of modern evangelicals! The spirituality of a warrior king with many moral and relational weaknesses does not look like that of the apostles in the first century. Some readers may find this unsettling. Yet this was a man after Gods own heart. Not because he had it all together, but because of how he responded to his failures and to his understanding of who God is. I found this re-telling of Davids story compelling because the story came boldly to life, with nonstop action, intrigue, triumphs and reversals. Even though I know the story, I found myself on the edge of my seat wondering how it would play out in living color. The nondescript characters of the biblical version leaped out of the pages and into cinematic vitality. This book is one of just a few works of historical fiction that is truly life changing because I know I will NEVER read the Psalms the same again. They now seem so much more relevant because I better understand the events and emotions from which they sprang. I also identify much more closely with the psalmists because I realize that they were just as human as I am. Pretty good outcome for such an exciting read!
I found this book in a search for novels about the life of King David and placed my order, expecting yet another soft, doe-eyed portrait of the famous Biblical character. I was happily surprised by it.As a soldier and veteran, I can be quite frustrated when much of Christian literature contains scenes of interaction among fighting men that ring hollow. The Stones is one of the only books I have read that both accurately reflects the intensity of war and correctly portrays the bantering and (sometimes) crude teasing of warriors with one another. Some readers might be put off by Gustafson's willingness to confront these realities, but that is precisely what they are-realities. Part of what shocked me is how realistic the thoughts, conversations, and motives of the soldiers were, since the author is a woman. This might be viewed as a sexist comment, but I believe it is just as difficult for a woman to capture a man's thoughts as it is difficult for a man to capture a woman's, and Gustafson has succeeded beyond what I have read previously. If you have ever wondered what might have gone on around the campfires of David's army or in the halls of the royal palace, this is as close as you are going to get. Beyond that, the spiritual depth and devotion to historical accuracy is remarkable in this novel. It paints on a broad canvas, yet never seems to be slow-paced. The descriptions of manners, customs, and the fascinating examination of cherem (the total destruction of enemies frequently recorded in Scripture) are top-notch.An outstanding novel, and one that I am already recommending to friends. There is even a study guide, which I eagerly look forward to going through in a church Bible study.