I really enjoyed reading Shepherd, Potter, Spy–and the Star Namer from Peggy Consolver – Author . I love historical fiction and haven’t found much historical fiction based on Bible times – ESPECIALLY Old Testament times. This book is written from the perspective of the Gibeonites during the Israelite conquest of the Promised Land. The Gibeonites were the one group who survived that conquest by tricking the Israelites into making a treaty with them.
The book starts off just a little bit slow (which actually works well in the overall reading) and you will probably want to read the character list before beginning (I didn’t and it took me a couple of chapters to figure out what was going on – purely my fault for not reading the list first). Once the story picks up and you know who everyone is and what their role is you won’t be able to put it down!
Even though I knew what happened to the Gibeonites based on the account in the Bible, this book kept me on the edge of my seat to the very end. The author skillfully weaves in backstories (fiction of course) for all of the characters and an intricate web of relationships. In her story, the Gibeonites come to faith in God, something I don’t think we know from scripture but is nice to think may have happened.
The author draws from her knowledge of scripture gained by reading through the Bible in chronological order many times. I am currently on my 3rd chronological read through of the Bible and was reading through Joshua and the conquest of the promised land at the same time as reading this book. This made both more interesting and added a wonderful dimension to the book. I highly recommend consulting scripture while reading this so you can imagine the scene as it happened and add in the fictional story while you are reading. It will also help you keep straight the fact and fiction.
My 11-year-old daughter tried to read this book as well but it was slightly above her reading level. She had a really hard time following along in the first few chapters and didn’t stick with it. I think the book is ideally suited for teens and adults. The main character is a child/teen himself so it is certainly relatable to that age but is deep and interesting enough for adults of any age. There are a lot of details and characters, which I LOVED, but I think that is what made it a little difficult for my daughter to follow.
There is a companion study guide available for purchase on the author’s website that you can use to dig deeper into the history behind the story. A free sample of the study guide is available there as well to help you decide if you want it. Also on the author’s website, you will find additional information about the time and the area including links to research, videos, and maps. Make sure you check out those additional resources to get the most out of your reading.
I highly recommend this book to any teen or adult who enjoys historical fiction or fiction stories based on the Bible.
If you have read or are planning to read Shepherd, Potter, Spy — and the Star Namer let me know in the comments!