Follow TV Tropes


Literature / The Bronze Bow

Go To

"He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze."

Galilee, 30 AD. Daniel bar Jamin is an eighteen-year-old member of a rebellious band of zealots, led by the charismatic Rosh. His single purpose in life, ever since fleeing from his abusive master, has been to drive the Romans out of Judea, and make his homeland free again. After a chance meeting with a couple of old friends, he manages to persuade them to aid him in his mission in any way they can.

It won't be easy. The Romans basically rule the entire known world, and Rosh's band consists of little more than a few dozen outlaws hiding in the mountains, spending more of their time raiding slave caravans and fighting Judeans they consider traitors, than actual Romans. Plus, Daniel lets himself get pulled back to his old village now that his old master is dead, reconnecting with his grandmother and sister who are struggling to feed themselves. And it's there he meets a certain carpenter from Nazareth.

The Bronze Bow was written by Elizabeth George Speare in 1962, winning that year's Newbery Medal award, and focuses on the nature of conflict, hatred, love, and what role God plays in political struggles.

Tropes featured in The Bronze Bow include:

  • Arranged Marriage: Played with. Thacia's parents rebelled against their parents' choice of spouse for them, and promised each other that they would allow their own children to pick their spouses. However, they do require that their children pick someone and at age 16, Thacia's refusal to choose anyone is becoming a real problem.
  • As the Good Book Says...: Though The Bible doesn't exist yet, multiple characters quote works that will become part of it later on, such as the Book of Psalms, which provides the title.
  • Death by Newbery Medal: True to form, Samson, Daniel's Morality Pet, dies helping his friends rescue Joel.
  • Fatal Flaw: Daniel's is his extremely quick temper. He tends to lose it at anyone who doesn't hate the Romans as much as he does, and his refusal to show Romans the respect they demand from him almost gets him killed twice; the second time it leaves him seriously injured.
    • On a much more spiritual level, it's his hatred. After Samson's death, Daniel promises to avenge him, not having learned a single thing from the whole ordeal. Luckily, Jesus is there to show him that to repay love with hatred won't do anything but kill his own soul.
  • Heroic BSoD: After witnessing her father and uncle's crucifixion as a young child, Daniel's sister Leah is "taken by demons", living a whole decade as a near-invalid in the corner of her grandmother's dingy home.
    • After Leah innocently accepts a gift from a Roman legionary, Daniel's rage drives her into another fit of this, just as she was slowly starting to recover from the previous bout. She soon falls gravely ill, refusing to eat or drink, and is mere hours from death when Jesus Christ visits their village and heals her.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Towards the end, Daniel realizes Rosh has become no better than the despised Romans, when he refuses to stage a rescue for Joel, when he has no problem stealing from other Israelites.
    • Daniel himself realizes he's crossing this line over the course of the story. Jesus helps set him on the right path.
  • Made a Slave: In Daniel's backstory, he was sold to a cruel blacksmith named Amalek to cover the family's debts. As it turns out, no one even blamed him for running away, and no one cares about the remaining years of servitude he owes after Amalek's dead.
  • Occupiers Out of Our Country: Absolutely no one is happy about the Romans and the power they have over their daily lives. There are even some legionnaires who resent being drafted from foreign countries such as Gallia, and hate living in Israel. There is sharp disagreement though, over whether the people should rise up and revolt, or if they should wait for the Messiah.