In reading the Bible, specifically books Samuel and Chronicles, a grand adventure presents itself concerning one of the most iconic figures in religion, King David of Israel. When I was a kid, church was mandatory, and sitting through endless sermons was cumbersome for my restless spirit. But, the most exciting aspect of attending church was the scriptures about David, a fierce warrior who bested the Philistine giant. Later, as an adult, I had always considered David's story as one of the best and earliest adventure accounts in literature. I had longed for a book that would incorporate the actual scripture, but in a novel format that would take some liberties in fleshing out the complete, awe-inspiring life of David. Thankfully, I discovered that Slaughter had that idea in the early 1960s.
David: Warrior and King was published by World Publishing Company as a hardcover in 1962 and then published by Permabook a year later in paperback. Today, you can find it as an ebook HERE.
At 400 pages, the novel begins with David as a young shepherd boy in Bethlehem. Readers learn that David's brother is Eliab, a soldier for King Saul in the Israeli military. David is a skillful hunter, displaying his bravery to Eliab with the hunting and slaying of a pesky jackal. In the early pages of the book, the prophet Samuel anoints David's head with oil and declares that he will eventually become Israel's king. This prophecy shapes the book's narrative as readers embark on the inevitable journey to the throne.
David's life spills onto the pages in a compelling, easy to read format that doesn't take anything away from scripture. Slaughter's novel showcases the shepherd boy and the stark contrast to Saul, an angry, mentally unstable king that eventually skirts God's will to pursue selfish interests.
In the book's opening half, readers learn of David's first love, his epic battle with Goliath, and his eventual marriage to Saul's daughter. His friendship with Jonathan and Joab are central to the book as David matures under Saul's watchful eye. As the half closes, David and his small band of soldiers have become enemies of Saul. This harrowing event sets into motion a cat-and-mouse game through the hills and mountains as David avoids Saul's wrath while also positioning himself politically to gain the throne.
In the second half, David's reign is presented through world-building and intricate political moves that incorporate the usual strife and treason among the most trusted allies. Perhaps the most important part of David's story is his eventual downfall, a mistrust between himself and God. These chapters show a hardened David, one that will even murder his own loyalists to pursue what his heart desires. David's yearning and fascination for Bathsheba, a married woman, leads him to some pretty dark places. God's will reshapes not only David's life, but his family's generations to come. This monumental event sparks a drastic change for Israel's future king.
David: Warrior and King is one of the best books I've read in a long time. Slaughter's meticulous detail to geography, historical events, and the people of this era is just extraordinary. Chapters of the book also connect directly to scripture, which is highlighted for the reader with direct passages from the Bible. As a casual men's action-adventure fan, you'll enjoy this march through the military ranks, the sweeping fights across endless battlefields, and the extreme compromises David faces as an enemy of the state. If you enjoy fantasy epics, there is enough world-building, tribes, and swordplay to soak up the narrative.
If you are a Christian, Jew, or Muslim, David's life and history, as shown in the Bible, is an important part of your own religion. No matter your faith, King David is iconic. If you aren't of the faith, then the book should still be enjoyable as an action-packed novel. But, hopefully, Slaughter's novel will peak your curiosity and lead you on a path to the written scripture and ultimately...God.