The Captain’s Log – the bronze bow (Elizabeth George Speare)

Ahoy there me mateys!  This read is long overdue.  Having loved other books by this author, I always wanted to read this book but never did.  Then I read a post by me matey Jackie @ deathbysundoku back in October 2017.  She be on the Great Newbery quest wherein she be reading all Newbery medal winners by January 2022 when the 100th Newbery Award happens!  Worthy goal indeed.  I meself had embarked on this journey many years ago before adverse winds and scads of other adventures sent me off course.  So Jackie’s posts have rekindled me interest in finishing them all and so periodically I pick another one up.

I have to say that this one was not the best book in me view.  This be a young adult historical fiction.  The story follows eighteen year old Daniel bar Jamin of Israel.  Daniel wants revenge on the Romans due to the death of his father.  But he is torn between duty to his family and duty to the band of outlaws determined to wrest Israel from Rome’s control.

While I enjoy the characterization of Daniel and sympathized with him, it was the pacing of the plot that made this less than fun.  This story takes place over many years and the action is slow.  Most of the story involves Daniel’s inner struggles.  I think the problem was that I, the reader, could see the path he should take and then had to hear all the silly reasons why he didn’t.  I still thought Daniel was wonderful and was rooting for him.

It was also weird to read of Jesus as a side character who has conversations with Daniel and then saves the day.  I didn’t mind the religion in the book outside of that quirk.  I always enjoy readin’ about different perspectives and the book’s time frame with all the changes and upheaval in religion is fascinating.  I do think this be the book’s strength.

I can see why it also won an award  Hate not love be the message of the day.  While I think that be a worthy sentiment, I just didn’t love the execution of it.  I consider it just okay.  No regrets about readin’ it though.  I now want to reread the sign of the beaver.  Arrrr!

Side note: For this list of all the Newbery award winners thus far and the ones I have read go to me Newbery page!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. –from the Song of David (2 Samuel 22:35)
The Bronze Bow, written by Elizabeth George Speare (author of The Witch of Blackbird Pond) won the Newbery Medal in 1962. This gripping, action-packed novel tells the story of eighteen-year-old Daniel bar Jamin—a fierce, hotheaded young man bent on revenging his father’s death by forcing the Romans from his land of Israel. Daniel’s palpable hatred for Romans wanes only when he starts to hear the gentle lessons of the traveling carpenter, Jesus of Nazareth. A fast-paced, suspenseful, vividly wrought tale of friendship, loyalty, the idea of home, community . . . and ultimately, as Jesus says to Daniel on page 224: “Can’t you see, Daniel, it is hate that is the enemy? Not men. Hate does not die with killing. It only springs up a hundredfold. The only thing stronger than hate is love.” A powerful, relevant read in turbulent times.

To visit the author’s Goodreads page go to:

Elizabeth George Speare – Author

To buy the novel go to:

the bronze bow – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

16 thoughts on “The Captain’s Log – the bronze bow (Elizabeth George Speare)

  1. You are making great progress on reading all the Newberys, Captain! At this rate, you’ll surpass me. 😉 But seriously, I haven’t been great about writing reviews for all the Newbery winners I’ve been reading. This is inspiring to pick up the pace. XD

    I’ve been putting this book off because many people have told me what you mention above: The pacing isn’t super great and the moral is a bit heavy-handed. That said, I can’t think of many non-religious books which are set during this time frame. That is, unless you think this might count as Christian fiction? What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well ye certainly need to catch up on yer Newbery reviews because I LOVE them and want to read them. I don’t really count this as Christian fiction, though some do. It is the time period that was captured best for me. I think for a lot of the Christian fiction that I have read, there is an emphasis on the character’s sins and shortcomings and asking for forgiveness. In this one, it shows a boy’s inner struggles to decide his life’s path but there isn’t a lot of guilt involved. But I haven’t read much Christian fiction so what do I know?
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

      1. D’aw. Thank you, Captain! That means a lot. I know I could write mini-reviews, but I want to link each book separately via The Great Newbery Quest… so I guess I’ve just been putting these off. I have something like 20 to write! O_o Oops. That’s what I get for choosing to read over writing reviews! XD

        Haha. I think your opinion stands! Having read VERY little Christian fiction myself, I think it’s easy to identify if something is intended to carry a religious moral. This aligns with my expectation. For example, her other Newbery Winner The Witch of Blackbird Pond discusses religion closely but is, if anything, a criticsm of religion. Perhaps just of extremism in religion, but still. I’m glad to hear that this is more about Daniel’s growth and development than anything else!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I be excited for 20 whole Newbery reviews. I didn’t know ye had read so many recently. Great job! Now get cracking and write those reviews.

        I adore the witch of blackbird pond and do agree that while religion plays a powerful part in the novel it is not the point of the novel. The point is following Kit’s growth. I do think that is the point of this one as well. I just happened to think it is not as strong of a book in comparison even if it was written later. But I think her goals of the two were similar. Thanks as always for the lovely comments.
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I wouldn’t say I’ve read them *recently*. Perhaps over the course of the year? I’ve gotten into a terrible habit of reading 8-10 books a month but only writing reviews for 3-5 of the books I’ve read. O_o I have a LOT to catch up on– Newbery or not! Here’s hoping someday I’ll just take a day off of work and crank out a bunch of reviews. Or something! I have no idea how I might catch up.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Well matey, I currently be 31 books behind on reviews. Cause the rule of me blog is that I have to review everything I read. Doing rereads on audiobooks is what led to the backlog. I have started doing mini-reviews for the books that are not sci-fi or fantasy. Plus I am going to review some of the series as a whole for the rereads. It is overwhelming at the moment but I know I will like having them written to look back on in the future. Arrr!
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review, but especially thanks for the link to Jackie’s blog and the inspiration to read more award-winning books! I may not be playing along with a time limit, but I think I’ll start tracking my Newbery Award-winning books read, now…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the praise and aye Jackie’s blog be awesome. I love readin’ her thoughts on the Newbery books. I also don’t have a “time limit’ in terms of date because I am such a mood reader but I do want to read them all before I die. So I guess that is the real goal!
      x The Captain

      Liked by 1 person

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