This is the fourth book in The Zion Chronicles series by Bodie Thoene. Thoene and her husband and research assistant, Brock Thoene, are masters at the craft of the historical adventure novel. This novel continues the saga of a cast of characters who are working for the foundation of a Jewish state after World War II. Readers who have followed this series and the one that precedes it (The Zion Covenant) are familiar with the central characters in this story: Moshe Sachar, archaeology professor-turned-Zionist leader; his wife, Rachel, Warsaw Ghetto and concentration camp survivor; David Meyer, American war ace turned Zionist pilot who forsakes a life in America for a cause he believes in; and Ellie Meyer, his wife, acclaimed Life photographer, who also risks her life for this little piece of real estate called Zion. The two main centers of action in the story are the city of Kastel, fought over by Arabs and Jews for its stragetic location overlooking the road to Jerusalem, and various central European countries, which become the bases from which David and Ellie attempt the sabotaging of an Arab arms shipment. Central to the story, however, is the separation of Moshe and Rachel. Moshe is wanted by both the Arabs as a Zionist leader and the British as an escaped prisoner and accused terrorist, so he is unable to show his face in Jerusalem. Rachel, a resident of the besieged Jerusalem, despairs to ever see her husband again. This novel is driven by both the passion with which both Arabs and Jews fight for their homeland and the passion of one man for his wife, their future, and their God.
Although battles and the violence of a Middle East war that has raged for what seems like time immemorial are the subjects of this book, there is also a surprising and welcome turn of character development included. David and Moshe both show vulnerability in the face of overwhelming odds in this story. For the first time that I can remember (and I have “known” these characters for years), Moshe makes a blunder that truly does have disastrous results. David, due to an unfortunate turn of events, begins to doubt his place in this war for the Israeli nation. As usual, though, God comes through in the end to insure the continuation of this struggle.
I tend to get bogged down in the details of books like this, which I suppose is the reason that it has taken me literally years to make it through both series by the Thoenes that pertain to the birth of Israel. However, this book, as so many of its prequels, had me eagerly turning pages to find out what happens next. I care enough about these characters to shed tears over their lives while I read about what happens to them. In true Thoene fashion, this story has a sort-of cliffhanger ending, so I am eager to get started on book five.