The Prince: Jonathan Hardcover – Aug 22 2005
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About the Author
Francine Rivers began her literary career at the University of Nevada, Reno, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and journalism. From 1976 to 1985, she had a successful writing career in the general market, and her books were highly acclaimed by readers and reviewers. Although raised in a religious home, Francine did not truly encounter Christ until later in life, when she was already a wife, a mother of three, and an established romance novelist.
Francine and her husband, Rick, live in Northern California and enjoy the time spent with their three grown children and every opportunity to spoil their grandchildren.
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Unlike his father, who drifts into self and away from the Lord, Jonathan slowly, painfully learns to place the Lord first while he handles the rival loyalties engendered by his father and his friend, David. Jonathon's victorious battles with the Philistines, his deep love for those he befriends, his desperations and self-questionings, and his devotion to God, all lead to a denouement that is breathtaking, heartbreaking, and victorious.
Writing both secular and Christian novels, award-winning author Rivers adds another fascinating novel to her Sons of Encouragement Series. Starkly told, with complexities woven in seamlessly, The Prince provides a well-planned plot and deep character studies, as well as adventure, and understandable Christian concepts. This book concludes with a Bible study useful for both group and individual study.
Knowing the story of Jonathan from Bible study, I enjoyed The Prince for its loyalty to the Scripture, as well as its intriguing narration and plot. It will be enjoyed by capable young readers as well as High School through adult readers. - Donna Eggett, Christian Book Previews.com
This book follows the life of Jonathan, son of Saul, friend of David. Although much of the story is told from Jonathan's viewpoint, this is a masterful chronicle of Saul's transgression from humble farmer to a hostile king consumed by his jealousy of David. Jonathan is accurately portrayed here as a man dedicated to The Law and we also see the beginnings of David's first transgression from God's path.
As we've come to expect, the battle scenes such as David's defeat of Goliath, are portrayed in exacting detail that will place the reader's minds' eye at the scene. And at only 200 pages, this novella is a very easy and fast read. That, however, is what I consider to be the books only short coming. It could have easily been a larger volume and gone into greater detail. For example, I would have liked to have seen Jonathan's wife, Rachel, developed further and given a larger role here.
But all in all, this is exactly what readers have come to expect from this gifted writer. Jonathan's story is certainly a treasure for us all, not just for his fierceness in defeating the Philistines, but more so for this constant dedication and unwavering devotion to God's Law.
If you're unfamiliar with the life of Jonathan, turn to 1 and 2 Samuel in the Bible. Israel is tired of letting God be their "king" and clamors for one of the men to be set up as a ruler over them. The wise prophet Samuel cautions that they'll be sorry, but God allows him to choose Saul, a handsome tall farmer, to be anointed king. The unhappy Saul (who initially has no desire to rule) cares little for God's law, but his young son Jonathan rather one-dimensionally has a passion for obeying God and following his word. But still he has questions. "...why didn't the Lord destroy their enemies? Why did He allow the Philistines to oppress them? If God still cared, why didn't he deliver them?"
Saul changes from a mild-mannered, rather cowardly farmer, to one who hacks his oxen to pieces (yes, it's in the Bible, but you won't see this story in a flannelgraph lesson). Once he's king, things move along a little better for Israel although we still don't understand much about what makes Saul tick. And sadly, Saul is still a tormented man. He can't sleep well at night. When a young shepherd boy, David, is brought in to play his harp for Saul to help him rest, it appears things might be redeemed.
When the well-known story of David's slaying of the giant Goliath takes place, jealousy pushes Saul completely over the edge. Although he arranged (reluctantly) a marriage between David and one of his daughters --- and David is now his son-in-law --- Saul eventually flies into a fit of rage and tries to kill him. This attitude toward David, who Saul eventually realizes will rule in his stead, continues until Saul himself is killed.
The story revolves around Jonathan, however: his troubled relationship with his father, Saul; his deep friendship with David; and the politics of Israel that will end in adultery, multiple wives, war, bloodshed, scheming, intrigue, and murder. It is also a story of the nation of Israel's selfishness, greed, and their turning away from the One who loves them the most. As Samuel tells Jonathan, "God does not abandon men, my son. Men abandon God."
There's not a lot of colorful details or character descriptions. Rivers relies mostly on dialogue to carry her tale. The reader is left with several questions about the characters. What makes Jonathan only care about obedience when his father does not? What was his relationship with his wife really like? What we get is a reasonably competent, yet sometimes lackluster story, even though all the material for a fast-paced, exciting narrative is in the scriptural text in abundance.
However, if you love Francine Rivers's novels, you'll want to add this to your collection of her books. Like other books in the Sons of Encouragement series (and her Lineage of Grace series about biblical women), a thorough set of discussion questions is included at the end of the book. Those who use the series as small group studies or with book clubs will find many interesting themes to investigate.
--- Reviewed by Cindy Crosby. [...].
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