The Triumph of Deborah continues Etzioni-Halevy's series of Old Testament women by recounting the story of Deborah (from the book of Judges), the highly regarded leader of the Israelites who, with the warrior leader Barak, wages war against the Canaanites who have long terrorized her people. Emerging victorious, Barak and Deborah, who was recently been divorced from her husband, begin a passionate affair. But their relationship is complicated by two women - the daughters of the Canaanite King Jabin - whom Barak takes as prisoners back to his home.
Barak finds himself drawn to Asherah, whose husband was his main adversary in the war and subsequently killed. Eventually, after a period of mourning, Asherah is coerced into marrying Barak against her will. Her sister Nogah, working as Barak's maid, becomes his mistress.
Deborah, despondent over losing both her husband and Barak, begins to have dreams of the Canaanites rebuilding their armies to come back and crush the Israelites. When she realizes that these are actually visions that are starting to come true, she understands that she must take drastic action to prevent another war and save her people.
As with Etzioni-Halevy's other novels, The Triumph of Deborah goes much deeper into her story than the Bible does. The plot moves back and forth between Barak's household and Deborah's household; because of this, I found myself more riveted by the two other main female characters - Asherah and Nogah - than I did Deborah. However, all the main characters are well-developed, and the plot moves along at good pace.
Etzioni-Halevy is painstaking in her research, trying to recreate everything as accurate to the time period as possible, from the clothing the characters wear to the weapons they use in battle. This is great historic fiction that any lover of the genre can appreciate.