In the Shadow of David

Written by Martin Baggen
Review by Nicky Galliers

This novel is a retelling of the Easter story, with background to the events, causes, reasons and persons involved. We all know the story, but this retelling is more realistic, and as such, it deviates in various places from the narrative we know so well. Written in the present tense, which may take a while to get into, the story moves on at a good pace that keeps you wanting to turn the pages; this is quite a feat for a history we all know, but the differences keep you guessing.

The characters’ names are slightly different, and if you only know the Bible version, this could be confusing. However, their actions give them away, and you soon realise who is who, although a little research into Israeli history does help.

The story is presented in a mix of perspectives: ‘books’ that are in the point of view of individual characters, as well as more general chapters that give a wider perspective and fill in the gaps. This creates a more rounded narrative, with snippets of other people’s reactions to events included. A more traditional approach would not have been as arresting.

It is not without fault.  Errors creep in here and there; another edit would pick these up, but these do not detract from a compelling work of fiction. If you are a devout Christian and you firmly hold to your beliefs, this may not be for you. But if you are intrigued with the reality behind legends, any legend, this novel is a provocative suggestion of what might have been. It offers a new way to view the Greatest Story Ever Told.

e-book reviewed