The Bronze Bow

by Elizabeth George Speare
254 pages, Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Queen Aravis of Archenland

Good historical read with some violent content.


Eighteen year old Daniel bar Jamin has witnessed his father's crucifixion by the Romans and now he is consumed by one purpose: to drive the Romans out of the land of Israel. Formerly a blacksmith's apprentice, Daniel finds his skills useful in the mountain camp of Rosh, a brigand leader who shares his hatred for the Romans.
When Daniel's grandmother dies, he returns to the village to support his deranged sister, but Daniel refuses to give up his dream. Recruiting a band of boys to help with the fight is his first step, but when Rosh allows one of them to be killed, Daniel finds his loyalties shaken. Time after time Daniel is drawn to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, but he is disappointed and confused by Jesus' lack of action against the Romans. Can it be that God would use another way to free Israel?


The theme of the book is Jesus' love and forgiveness instead of hatred, bitterness, anger, and violence. Each of these is displayed, and we see how characters' desire to serve God can be subservient to their desire to serve themselves, without the characters realizing it.

Some of the characters steal and don't think of it as wrong.

Spiritual Content

The main characters are Jews and make references to God, the Torah, and the Temple. Roman gods are mentioned. Characters convert to following Jesus, but His deity is not specifically mentioned. Jesus says that hate is the problem with the world, and love is the answer.
Jesus heals people. Daniel's sister Leah is said to have a demon.


Several mini-battles. The main characters are beaten up and one character is killed; the death is described as very bloody. Daniel burns for revenge against the Romans and has a dangerously bad temper. There are mentions of robberies and murders. Leah, Daniel's sister, is terrified of everything outside their home, and she is frightened almost to death. Some of this is rather sad, though nothing is descriptive.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Characters say that some other people are probably drinking wine.

Sexual Content

A Roman soldier talks to a pretty girl. A girl disguises herself as a boy.

Crude or Profane Language or Content

It is stated that characters curse and use oaths, but the words are not recorded. A girl dresses as a boy once to help someone.


Because of the violence, I recommend only children nine and older read this book, though the violence is not great. My family really enjoys this book because it is so interestingly written and paints a vivid picture of life in Israel and some of the perspectives during Jesus' time. It is worth noting, however, that salvation from hatred through love is the key message, not salvation from sin through Jesus' sacrifice.

Fun Score: 4.5
Values Score: 4
Written for Age: 11-12

Review Rating:

Average rating: 5 stars
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