One of the most prominent names in the Bible is that of King David, who is a significant spiritual figure in the traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The story of "David and Goliath" has become one of the most recognizable tropes in our culture.
The Leper Messiah, by Robert M. Levinson, takes a dark, often mystical walk through the life of this iconic figure. Levinson's book explores the forces, both human and magical, that molded a shepherd boy into a king destined to unite the tribes of Israel.
This is not a religious book. It's a work of historical fiction that reimagines the life of King David on multiple levels. In Levinson's telling of the story, the reader gets a strong and realistic sense of David as an ordinary young man trying to survive and find his way through his violent and unpredictable world a thousand years before the birth of Christ. When he kills the giant Goliath, it is not the clichéd showdown of popular culture, but a stealthy attack during a nighttime scouting raid. After being banished by King Saul, he succumbs to violent, murderous - and very human - rage.
There is also a deep undercurrent of mysticism born of the dominant Egyptian culture of the time, complete with recurring sacred scorpions as guardians of the chosen one. The author's nearly stream of consciousness style shifts the story seamlessly through time and space to achieve a dark, dreamlike ambiance in the book that reinforces the mystical aspects.
The role of strong women in the life of David is an important subtheme. David's mother, Nitzevet, who is not mentioned at all in the Old Testament, is one of the most powerful characters in the book. At key moments she is there to shield and protect her son and make sure his destiny is fulfilled. Then there is the supernatural and dazzling Rose, who appears at key times to rain destruction on anyone or anything daring to threaten the future king. In a sense, these women stand as a metaphor for the power of the feminine in today's world.
"The title alone makes you want to grab the book, run home and start reading. And once you start reading, you'll be glad you did. This is an imaginative, unique read." Patrick LoBrutto, editor of the Dune Novels by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson.
While The Leper Messiah is not a religious work, the title is a nod to several religious ideas. In many traditions, David is seen as the Messiah, the true king of the Israelites; the New Testament Messiah, Jesus, is a direct descendent of David. And in some interpretations of the Talmud, the Messiah can be seen as both leper - absorbing the pain and sorrow of the world - and as conqueror of that world.
The Leper Messiah is like an archaeological expedition come to life, exploring the life of King David in intimate detail on both historical and spiritual levels.
The Leper Messiah, ISBN 978-3-77302-274-6, 2016, Tellwell, 364 Pages, $15.99 Hardcover, $8.99 Paperback, $3.99 on Kindle at Amazon.