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Reflections on “The Dark Side of Glory”
Raven Kamali

Ten years ago, I embarked on a journey to write a historical novel that was relevant to our times. But the journey was difficult. I am passionate about ancient history and I wanted to inject as much history as possible into the storyline. However, I was aware that not everyone shared my passion. My aim was not to produce a novel that would only appeal to those who love history. I wanted the book’s appeal be all-inclusive. To accomplish such a goal, both the history and the story had to be gripping, which meant that the history had to be seen through the eyes of compelling characters with compelling lives. Heroes and villains had to come alive and take the reader into their world.

The story begins in 7BC Judea with Joshua and his family: his two daughters (seven-year-old Abigail and fourteen-year-old Ruth), his wife, Deborah, and his brother, Tobias. Joshua and Tobias are juxtaposed as Ruth and Abigail are. Joshua is certain that he knows the mind of God. Tobias isn’t sure if God even exists. Joshua is ready to sacrifice his family for his faith. Tobias is ready to sacrifice himself for them. The question of faith plays an important part in the story and gives it a spiritual dimension. Joshua tries to reach for the hand of God; Tobias for the meaning of life. Ruth’s life is shaped by Joshua’s beliefs; Abigail’s by Tobias’s.

Abigail and Ruth are the protagonist and the antagonist respectively. Abigail’s strength is nourished by love; Ruth’s by hatred. It is love that enables Abigail to survive her darkest moments. Ruth’s hatred offers her no protection. For all her sins against innocent people, Ruth ultimately faces cosmic or divine retribution.

It was important for Abigail to never sully her hands with Ruth’s blood. She must remain pure and innocent to the end. In the movie Ben-Hur (1959), Judah does not kill Messala despite all the evil the latter had inflicted on the former. It is divine/cosmic justice that crushes Messala. Heroes that prevail without engaging in the cruel actions of their adversaries, and yet either nature or providence ensures that the world is still just, is a theme that I find appealing.

The end of the story is one of resurrection and renewal. A new family emerges and a young man finally completes the spiritual journey that started with Joshua by touching the hand of God.

About the author

Raven Kamali is a multi-genre novelist and poet with a degree in Ancient History and Latin. She also writes historical essays on ancient Rome.

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