I was first introduced to this book in my 8th grade English class. I enjoyed it so much then, I went out and read the author's other books. I recently picked this one up again and was amazed at how powerful it still was to me.
The story concerns Daniel, a young Jew at the time of Christ. He has an intense hatred of the Romans and lives with in an outlaw band in the hills. When his grandmother dies, he must move to the village to take care of his sister while trying to continue his life's mission of driving the Romans back to Rome. He is drawn to the miracle worker, but just doesn't know what he truly thinks about him. Is he the Messiah sent to free them from the Romans? And will his sister ever recover?
Ms. Speare was able to create a complex plot that is simple enough for her target age to understand, but still captivating to adults. I got so caught up in the events when I was rereading that I couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this children's novel to readers of all ages.
on November 11, 2001
I am an adult godfather always looking for good books for my young friends. This is one of my three best finds in years. (The others were The Witch of Blackbird Pond, also by Elizabeth Speare, and A Line In The Sand, the Alamo diary in the Dear America series.)
The story is told in the time of Jesus in a village near where Jesus teaches those who come to hear him. Daniel, a young outcast, is sworn to fight the Romans with the goal of throwing them out of the land altogether. There are many other young men who want to do the same thing, but they need a leader. What they do, how they prepare, their speculation whether the new teacher Jesus may be that leader, and most of all, Daniel's struggles between his oath and what Jesus has said to him, are the story.
This is not a religious book, though its end point is the second great commandment Jesus gave (Matthew 22:39). It is a book about life in the time, the unrest and resistance of many Jews to Roman rule, the confusion of many Jews looking for a military messiah trying to decide if Jesus could be that man. But more than that, it is like any other moral tale of any other time, a story of a man trying to decide what is the right thing for him to do.
It is not simplistic, I'm 57 and I read it entirely, but neither is it difficult reading. I strongly recommend it for anyone from 9 years on.
on November 28, 1999
When I first received the book in my grade eight class, I thought, oh man, another book that will have no affect on me whatsover, etc etc. I was wrong. Though it took quite a few chapters to find out what the bronze bow was, I definitely feel that it's one of the best books I've read. The author, Elizabeth George Speare, portrayed the characters, especially Daniel, very, very well. I couldn't put the book down! Soon it didn't become just a reading homework assignment. While reviewing the book and making up questions, I found it very interesting, the way love was shown. Jesus' love was quite evident and I loved the way Daniel was drawn to Him. As a Christian, I belive Jesus was portrayed very well. The plot was good, new problems peaking around every corner, and Samson really touched my heart :). I recommend it for anyone my age to 90! Also, in the book it shows that love can overcome war and hate that Daniel has towards the Romans. Hate can try to bend a bow of bronze (taken from a psalm of David, this was there "password"), but love does a much better job. :)
on March 31, 2006
Imagine your father taken away and killed by the Romans. Could you ever forgive them? When this happens to Daniel's family, it leaves his sister traumatized and Daniel with a fiery hatred for the Romans. The Bronze Bow is not only historically correct; it is also exciting! This book completely uses all the reader's emotions throughout the story line and it draws the reader into the story.
In The Bronze Bow, Daniel, a Jewish boy, despises Roman rule. After Daniel witnesses his father's crucifixion and watches his mother die of a broken heart, he retreats to the mountains. There he joins a notorious gang that robs people to gain money for armor and weaponry to free Israel. Daniel meets up with some old friends and they recruit a small group of boys who, with Daniel, hope to avenge his parent's deaths and rid the Holy Land of Romans. But then Daniel faces the hardest decision of his life: should he love and forgive the Romans or hate them?
The character development in The Bronze Bow is tremendous. Two of my favorite characters are Daniel and Joel. Daniel is an eighteen-year-old Jewish boy seeking revenge. He is hateful yet finds himself questioning his anger for the Romans. Joel is a seventeen-year-old Jewish boy that is thoughtful, loyal, and kind. Joel wants to solve the Roman/Israeli conflict with words, not force. In this story the reader becomes part of Daniel and Joel's group of friends.
Elizabeth George Speare, the author of The Bronze Bow, was born in Melrose, Massachusetts in 1908. She has won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award and two Newbery Medals for The Bronze Bow and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. She has also won a Newbery Honor Medal for The Sign of the Beaver.
The Bronze Bow is an emotional, breathtaking, and extraordinary book for readers who yearn for excitement. It is my favorite book and its message and characters will always affect me. Anyone who enjoys historical fiction will love this book as much as I did.
on November 13, 2001
Elizabeth George Speare only wrote four books that I'm aware of, and all but one were awarded a Newbery Award. (And the one that did not win an award, "Calico Captive," is one of my favorite books of all time!) Ms. Speare was quite simply a fantastic writer of historical fiction. Her books are written in a style suitable for young readers, but anybody who loves historical fiction will love her work regardless of age! It's such a shame that she did not write more books.
I admit that I had my reservations about "The Bronze Bow," since its setting in 1st century Judea seemed incongrous with Ms. Speare's other books which are all set in colonial New England. Also, although I'm a practicing Catholic, I was not keen on reading a fictional book with Jesus as a character fearing some very dry, preachy version of the most famous man in history would ruin the believability of the story. But my reservations were completly unfounded. Ms. Speare describes life in Roman occupied Judea with the same wonderful detail as she did colonial America. She ably describes the political/historical situation with great skill while weaving it into her fictional story of a young man deciding which path he will choose in life.
Daniel, the protagonist, is as three dimensional and believable as Kit Tyler in "The Witch of Blackbird Pond." In fact, all the characters are memorably brought to life especially Daniel's emotionally devastated, younger sister, Leah. However, the major surprise is Ms. Speare's portrayal of Jesus of Nazareth- what a wonderful depiction of that itinerate preacher. Jesus is a supporting but crucial character in the narrative, but Ms. Speare does not use him to preach to the reader. Instead, the reader, like Daniel, is left to decide who Jesus is- just a kind-hearted teacher? A miracle worker? Someone unwilling to take sides? The messiah? Daniel is puzzled by these questions because the Jesus he sees is just a human being and not a resurrected savior in glowing robes.
"The Bronze Bow" is arguably Ms. Speare's strongest novel, and that says alot considering her other work. It's historical fiction at its finest, and anyone who passes on it because of fears of it being "too religious" or "too preachy" are doing themselves a disservice. A great work of fiction is a great work fiction regardless if one of the characters happens to be Jesus of Nazareth.
on April 19, 2001
This is one of those you will read all your life. If you've ever dealt with prejudice it's a life-changer. If you even just like action and intrigue, it tingles with it. The story revolves around Daniel's hatred of the Romans who oppress him and how he resists the entrance of love into his life. Intelligent, spunky Malthace and her brother, new acquaintances of his, surprise some humanity from under his dark exterior. Then there's his beautiful sister, Leah, who has been traumatized by witnessing Roman retribution as a child. What to do when a young Roman soldier falls in love with her? Meanwhile, rumors abound about a new leader who will unite the zealots and all true patriots to overthrow Roman rule... a Jesus of Nazareth, who is coming to town. I discovered this book as a child and when I became a teacher, read it aloud to my class one summer. On the day of the last chapter I lost my voice and my boss happened to come by and read it aloud to the class for me. At the final paragraph, his voice broke and he actually cried... a powerful book.
on August 17, 2002
I previewed this book before providing it to my son, and found it really captivating. Many other reviews describe the plot, so I'll simply say that the characters are truly human and that the setting is truly brought to life. Even though I have read and studied the Bible for years, this novel brought to life things I had never understood. It truly gave context to the hatred the Jews held for their Roman oppressors, and gave me new insights - all in the midst of a great story - into Jesus' ministry being centered around Galilee, where the hatred of Rome ran deepest and the Zealot movement had its greatest sway.
As to age-appropriateness, I would say this is best for kids 10-11 and up, and would also be enjoyable for adults. Younger readers would need some guidance through parts of it.
For adults who enjoy this sort of book, I would highly recommend Fishers of Men (Kingdom and the Crown I) by Gerald Lund. Lund's story is excellently told, thoroughly captivating and provides insights on Jesus' ministry that'll really make you think.
on November 27, 1997
I first read this book when I was in grade school, after reading and loving The Witch of Blackbird Pond by the same author, and it is still one of my favorites! The story of Daniel's struggle between his hatred of the Romans for what they did to his family and his attraction to Jesus and his teachings of love is beautifully told. The struggle is not an easy one; it is not obvious which side is going to win. Characters in this book are interesting and alive. A very engaging story.
on February 15, 2001
This is a must read for all ages. This book was selected by a book club I just joined. I am so glad because I never would have read it otherwise--I would recommend this book to all ages (teen and above). After two or three pages I was loving it. The adventures of the zealots and the relationship Daniel has with his friends and family are interesting. This book is a fairly easy read and quick. I would pick it up and read every free moment. As mentioned in another review--you can really visualize the landscape, cities, people, etc
on January 12, 2000
I thought The Bronze Bow was a great book! It might take a few pages to get into the story and writing, but after that, I could not put it down! I stayed up late one night because I kept wanting to read 'just one more chapter' and see what was going to happen next.
The book was very historically accurate, and I could picture everything in my mind as I was reading. The characters are fantastic; all unique and 3-dimensional, instead of the cardboard stereotypes that often pop up in historical fiction. The author also vividly caught the emotion and spirit of the times. You could feel Daniel's burning hatred of the Romans, as well as his struggle to treat his sister gently, so different from the rough way he was used to from living on the mountain. His varying--and sometimes grudging--forms of friendship with Joel, Thacia, Simon, Samson, were all as interesting to read about as the exciting adventures of the band of young Zealots. I also thought that Jesus was protrayed very realistically and accurately.
I'd say that this book is well worth reading, especially for the wonderful, hopeful ending.