Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A Review of "A Man at Arms," by Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield’s newest novel, A Man at Arms, opens on a roadside in Judea in the year 55 AD, some two decades after the crucifixion of a Hebrew prophet whose followers continue to prove troublesome for the Roman Empire. 

A caravan of merchants and other travelers pause at the foot of a grade, knowing from experience that the summit is a favorite spot for brigands, bandits, and thieves to lay in ambush. We’re introduced to the novel’s main characters. First, a local boy, David: “son of Eli, age fourteen, unlettered but of sturdy limb and abundant ambition.”

Among the pilgrims and peddlers milling about and fretting on how they might continue on the road to Damascus without being waylaid and robbed blind at the top of the hill, David takes note of a father with his young mute daughter in tow. David is “struck by the child’s apparition. Feral, dirty, with bare soles and hair so matted it seemed neither comb nor brush could be pulled through it, the girl seemed more a wild animal than a human being.”