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March 17 , 2008

The Song of Isaac


As jealous as the god he claims to serve, the patriarch Abram speaks to his people and it is done. Only now, growing old and facing revolt by younger men, he has fixed on the sacrifice of his tragically marked son as the surest way to confound his enemies and bring his wavering people back into the fold. No messenger-angel will stay Abram's hand from what is, in truth, a calculated political act, directed not only against his rivals but the king he hopes to overthrow. But this is the story of Ishak, awakening to the flesh and torn by doubt and guilt, the tyranny of belief in a dark and bloody age. Surrounded by hostility and intrigue, he struggles to affirm a loyalty he cannot fully feel, even as he resists the efforts of those who might save him. Sarah pins her hopes of refuge on a distant Holy Land. Ishmael, whom Abram has cast out into the desert, offers sanctuary among his outlaw brethren. While Ishak's beloved, Maleah, holds out a secret that Abram fears. Yet he who best offers hope to Ishak is an itinerant metalworker, a reluctant participant in Canaan's Bronze Age arms race. By turns Abram's ally and his adversary, he alone understands that what threatens Ishak is spiritual no less than physical immolation.
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