Book Excerpt - City of Refuge by Valerie Farber

Friday, October 02, 2009

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Today, if you tragically kill someone by accident, you are usually given an opportunity to propose a plea bargain and lighten your punishment. In biblical times, though, you didn’t have the luxury of plea bargaining. According to biblical law, if you killed a person by accident, you had to run to a haven, or city of refuge. Otherwise the victim’s relatives had license to pursue and kill you.

City of Refuge, the first in a planned series of biblical historical novels by Valerie Farber, tells the story of two youths in ancient Israel, Bat-Shachar and Tzuriel. Bat-Shachar, a teenaged girl who lives under the strict discipline of her father, a prominent scholar, often flees home from her father’s temper. She is exposed to pagan rituals and visions that shake her to her core. Her story is intertwined with that of Tzuriel, a metalworking apprentice. After agonizing over the slaughter of his people by marauders, Tzuriel infiltrates enemy territory to acquire forbidden skills for crafting iron weapons. He faces an accidental tragedy and must flee to the established city of refuge. The paths of the teenagers cross as both are expelled from their tribal villages and race toward the haven pursued by vengeful enemies.

An ancient adventure novel for biblical enthusiasts and avid readers, City of Refuge draws heavily from detailed research of biblical sources and ancient crafts and technologies, enabling the reader to experience the Bible as a live book. Farber presents an untold story, full of real characters whose frame of reference, fears, beliefs and motivations are all rooted in the Bible.

“The bereaved bloody-faced mothers had begun to gyrate and stomp to the music. The crowd watched them in awe and emulated their exhilarating dance. Bat-Shachar’s eyes shone like porcelain plates. She reached skywards. Her arms and hips began to twist, following the sorceress’s lead. As the apprentices passed through the crowd, each participant held his hands, palms up, and watched delightedly as an assistant pierced the middle of both his thumbs. After the letting of the blood, the aides paired together a participant’s right hand with the left hand of the neighbor on his right and his left hand with the right hand of the neighbor to his left. A human chain formed slowly between the entranced villagers.

Bat-Shachar felt the throb of the deep drum vibrate from her feet, through her bones, and up to her rib cage. She looked at the enthralled women in the center of the circle and the villagers united in this ceremony.

Looking around, Bat-Shachar saw Basmat and Iru gyrating in the dusky light. Iru, Basmat, and Eliav held their palms out to the neophyte sorcerers, eager to join the covenant of blood. Bat-Shachar became aware of Eliav holding her left thumb towards an assistant, who stood in front of her, the ceremonial blade poised in his hand.”

Wow, I wouldn't have liked to have lived in those times. What about you? Have your say in the comments!

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3 People said

  1. I saw this book but didn't know what it was about but thanks to this post, City of Refuge piqued my interest! Raised Catholic and never learned about this biblical law. I don't think I would have survived.

  2. I've never really been interested in any biblical novels before but this sounds interesting. I definitely wouldn't want to live there but visiting via book might be a good way to spend a day!

  3. Shawna L

    You know there are just nor enough biblical historical novels out there so I am excited for this one big time!!! Thanks for the needed review!!!


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