Covenant of War was a more difficult book to write than Day of War. The reason is that it dealt with harder, more personal issues for me. Some readers will enjoy it more than Day of War, and some less. Same heart and same idea, but a different book. It wraps up a bit less tidily than Day of War, which itself was a bit vague. I’m not sure why I keep doing that in these stories. Maybe because it’s closer to real life. Things don’t always end perfectly, unfortunately.
I’ll be candid with you: I actually choke up writing certain scenes. I want so badly to communicate the heart of it that if affects me personally. I know very well what goes on inside the hearts of men when they hope no one is looking, because it goes on in my heart. These books are a labor of pain and love. I hope they come across as such. If you’re a lady, I certainly want you to enjoy the stories as well, but perhaps it will also help you understand the men in your life a little better, and maybe sympathize with their struggles. It’s not always as easy as, “Just stop doing that.”
The plot centers around Eleazar and what he does to turn back a vicious Philistine invasion. As much as I enjoyed writing the battles and such, the internal struggles of this character were very difficult for me to get through. As a man, I recognized myself many times in his temptations and trials. I hope it resonates with other men who read this. I also pray it gives hope to those caught in the grip of certain sins.
The tone of the book is also a bit darker. It’s more graphic than even Day of War was, simply because I needed to show why these men are fighting as desperately as they are. It wasn’t good in the ancient world to let your enemies overrun you. Rape and pillage were the least horrific things to fear, if you can imagine. Caution would be good for younger readers. One reader I sent an early edition to said he loved it, but was worried that his young son (a major fan) would not be able to read it until he was older. That was wrenching for me to hear, because I really do want this to be accessible for anyone. But it came down to being true to the story and the realities of the times, and I decided to keep the more grisly material in there. I certainly hope it does not come across as gratuitous; my editors and I worked very hard to weigh and measure every word.
It also portrays David in a less-than-favorable light in the early goings. This will be troublesome for some readers, but I can only point to the Bible and say that his problems began far earlier than simply Bathsheba. However, my favorite part of the novel is when David eventually finds his core again, and lets the Covering rage once more. (Sorry, that’s all I can spoil for you, but suffice it to say that his days of using the sling are not over…).
At the end of the day, this book is about the blood, sweat, and tears of men fighting and standing together, regardless of the outcome. It’s about how difficult it can be to overcome weaknesses. It’s about picking the rock you will die defending. It’s about realizing that the enemy may be one valley over from your home, and your wife and children are threatened, and if you do not hold that rock, all is lost. So hold it you will, even unto death.
The last night I was working on this book, just before I sent it off to the publisher one final time, I prayed covering over it. I hope it will reach out and penetrate without preaching. I hope it will cause men to stop and contemplate, and then take fiery action. How far will you let the enemy advance, brother? At what point will you stand and fight? Does the enemy only see you running?
I am glad the wait is nearly over. Like you, I have been anxious to see what happens to David and the boys. May you know the Covering powerfully today.