About the Book
Book: A River to Cross
Author: C.L. Smith
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Release Date: November, 2017
Although human eyes see only a river separating Israel from the Promised Land, primordial powers of darkness are determined to prevent a crossing that will change the world.
In the thrilling sequel to Balaam’s Curse, Acsah, Othniel, Jonathan and their friends sort through the rubble of the Midianite war for pieces of the simple and innocent life they’ve lost. But there is no going back. While nearly drowning in personal rivers of disappointment, grief, and fear, they hardly notice the Jordan River slowly rising to an impassable, raging torrent. By the time they do, Moses is dead. Yahweh has made it clear that Joshua is his chosen replacement, but the people have little faith that this hesitant man can lead them into Canaan.
To bolster confidence, Joshua sends Salmon and another young spy across the river in a reconnaissance mission that plunges them into a world where evil prowls in broad daylight and death waits in the darkness. They escape the depraved city of Jericho only by the quick thinking of a Canaanite girl who risks her life in exchange for a promise of rescue. Now her life and the future of the world depend on crossing that river.
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About the Author
C.L. SMITH, former missionary and junior high English/history teacher, has been captivating audiences around the world for years with the timeless thrill of biblical tales. Now in her retirement years she is writing The Stones of Gilgal biblical novels. The books weave her lifetime love of learning and people into the fabric of obscure ancient texts, creating an unforgettable tapestry of rich scenes and colorful characters.
The narrative unfolds from the viewpoint of six minor biblical characters who experienced the miracles and mayhem of the era of Joshua (stories recounted in the last half of Numbers through parts of Judges) bringing this ancient world to life. This deeply-researched telling, of old stories makes them new again and relevant to our world today. She has completed three of six books in the series. The books are chronological, each adding layers to our understanding of the characters and their life situations, but each book can be enjoyed as a story complete within itself.
Learn more at www.stonesofgilgal.com
More from C.L. Smith
HAVE YOU EVER?
- tried reading Old Testament stories and wondered why such violence is found in the Good Book?
- heard anyone say, “I like Jesus, but the God of the Old Testament seems so blood-thirsty and vengeful”?
- wondered how Joshua’s army—slaughtering whole towns because God told them to—was different from ISIS and other militant religious armies today?
Imagine a story that deals with those questions and reads like the high adventure of an epic fantasy novel. Well, you don’t have to imagine. The Stones of Gilgal novels tackle those tough questions.
A River to Cross is the second book of The Stones of Gilgal series––but plunge right in! Each book can be read as a story complete within itself.
Background from book one: The children of Israel celebrate their arrival at the border of Canaan, their long-awaited Promised Land. But the evil prophet Balaam has been hired to stop them. His plot turns their joyful celebration into a nightmare. Balaam’s Curse threatens the very existence of God’s people on earth, leads to the death of the last of the Exodus generation, and leaves their children reeling.
Setting for book two: The crisis is past. Acsah, Othniel and friends begin picking up the pieces of their shattered lives. Their parent’s generation is gone, but against all odds, they survived the rebellion, plague, and war initiated by Balaam’s Curse. Like a loving grandfather, Moses gathers his people together for his final words. He reviews the covenant law and appoints Joshua as their new leader. The people grieve the loss of their mountain of strength. But inspired by the passion of his farewell speeches, the people look to the future with fiercely bright hope. They will cross the Jordan and claim their inheritance. What could possibly go wrong?
Six of the major characters in this series are minor but real people found in scripture. They all came of age during the era of Joshua, experiencing the transition from the Wilderness Wanderings to finding a home in the Promised Land. They all crossed the Jordan, witnessed the fall of Jericho and the sun standing still at a word from Joshua—life-changing events shaping them for leadership roles as mature adults in the book of Judges.
- Othniel, who becomes the first hero-Judge of Israel––Judges 3:7-11
- Acsah, only daughter of the heroic Caleb––Judges 1:12-15
- Rahab, the courageous Canaanite harlot not only saved by faith but honored with a place in the lineage of King David and Jesus Christ. Joshua 2
- Salmon, prince of the tribe of Judah, future husband of Rahab––only found in genealogies: Ruth 4:18-22, Matthew 1:5
- Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, warrior of righteousness and future high priest––Numbers 25, 30, Joshua 22, and Judges 20,
- Jonathan, grandson of Moses––Judges 17-18
- Plus Abihail, fictionalized daughter-in-law of the biblical Achan, Joshua 7
“The point I want to make now, however, is that we must wait for God to call us to leadership. Perhaps, my impetuous act delayed the rescue of God’s people by forty years. When we do what makes sense to us without consulting him, we usually deceive ourselves and go contrary to his will. God will use you someday for something great, something worthy of your talents. Wait for him to make the path clear to you.”
Through The Stones of Gilgal series, C.L. Smith has become another one of my favorite Biblical fiction authors. What I love most about the genre is that, when done well, it provides insight into some of the background of the Bible, illuminating the customs and cultural practices of the era and hopefully leading to further understanding of God’s Word. Sometimes reading the Bible stories that have become so familiar to us in a fictional context can cause us to consider details that we may not have before, and to truly connect with the Biblical figures, considering their emotions and reactions anew. This, in turn, helps us to make connections with others in the world around us, which is increasingly important in these days of division and unrest. Most importantly of all, these fictional works should point us back to and renew our desire for the Bible itself.
Book two of The Stones of Gilgal, “A River to Cross”, focuses on the Israelites as they prepare to enter Canaan, the land of milk and honey that the Lord has promised them as their inheritance. However, the times are anything but easy. Following “Balaam’s Curse” (see my review HERE), the Midian war has left a scar on the Israelite tribes, and there is foreshadowing of more trouble to come. Author Smith engages readers with Joshua’s promotion to leader and the wicked Canaanite city of Jericho, offering with meticulous detail her interpretation of how these stories may have transpired. She does so while retaining the historical authenticity of each story, often incorporating Scripture quotations directly into the text, and making each encounter exciting and interesting.
As with book one, “A River to Cross” consists of multiple viewpoints, which are designated by the character’s name at the beginning of each section. The first three chapters, especially, introduce (or re-introduce) a multitude of figures, and I will admit that I did have difficulty with this initially. I had some difficulty keeping track of the more minor characters and would have benefited from a character list at the beginning of the book or even a genealogy. I am not skilled with remembering names, however, so this may just be my own personal issue, and I do appreciate that Smith employs third-person narration throughout, which helps to prevent confusion. She also skillfully interweaves direct Scripture into the narrative, as with Moses’ farewell speeches. Reading about the emotional reaction that the people had when Moses announced that Joshua would be the one leading them across the Jordan was eye-opening. I do not think that I have ever really considered the emotional impact that this and other situations had. Likewise, my heart went out to Acsah and Jonathan as I read. My favorite part of this book is the story of Joshua’s spies, Salmon and Jathniel, and Rahab, and how God worked in their circumstances to save them from destruction. Of the three, Rahab’s story is especially powerful.
While this book can be read as a standalone, I would highly recommend reading the series in order, as they are intended to be read in tandem, and the characters and storyline overlap and continue forward. This is a clean book, but I would recommend it for mature readers because it contains adult themes, including allusions to rape, fight scenes, and brutality. Nevertheless, it depicts how God is always working behind the scenes of our lives, just as He was for the children of Israel thousands of years ago, to bring us hope and a future as He promised.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
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