Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Are you prepared to feast with your enemies?

Imagine how explosive the occasion may become, when the feast is a royal one, and the family members are those who would like to throw you off your throne, take your place, and obliterate your legacy. With this in mind, here are three excerpts from the three volumes of my trilogy, The David Chronicles. Each excerpt describes a royal feast in my heres life with its underlying intrigue.

For an entire week following the wedding I have found myself obliged to come to the royal dining room, to be presented before the entire Kish clan as the groom, the Husband of the Princess. Tonight is the seventh night, which—to my relief—marks the end of these festivities, the last dinner. 
Blessed with the questionable pleasure of addressing them I bow low, lower, lowest in the proper manner, according to the relative position of each one in the chain of succession. 
Alas, there are so many of them! All sitting around, using their embroidered dinner napkins to fan their faces because of the intense heat from the fireplace, which is much too close for comfort. They are waiting tensely for the king to arrive before they may start to feast on the lavish food, heaped on elongated silver trays set at precise, measured intervals along the dining table.
The king’s wife, Ahinoam, daughter of Ahimaaz, sits next to the empty royal seat, and his concubine, Rizpah daughter of Aya, at the opposite end, far down the table. The king’s eldest son, Jonathan, sits next to his mother, followed by his brothers, Abinadav, Malchishua, and the youngest one, Ish-Boshet, who was accidentally dropped from his crib by a nanny some years ago, so his legs are broken. Rizpah’s sons, Armoni and Mephiboshet, sit opposite Michal and me. 
And then, there is Merav.
Hair pointing up, bust pointing forward, she greets me by blowing a little kiss from across the table, while her husband is looking the other way. 

Excerpt from Rise to Power, just before King Saul throws his sword at David.


At my command, the doors of the largest hall in the compound are unlocked. Their hinges are rubbed with oil, so there will be no creaking sounds, no annoyances. This is the perfect place for celebration, which is why we never used it up to now, for lack of reason to do so. 
I tell everyone to come in and mingle, never mind if they belong to the tribe of Judah or the tribe of Benjamin. We are true brethren now, as we were always meant to be. We are family. We are of the same blood.
Newly acquired, sumptuous rugs are spread across the stone floor. Wall sconces are set aflame, so the place glows with color and warmth. Large pillows, embroidered with silk threads, are brought in, so we can all recline upon them, and relax into a sense of luxury. Lavish food is served. Wine starts splashing into cups.
I trust, perhaps foolishly, that generous hospitality removes the divisions between us, and ushers in a new era. 

Excerpt from A Peek at Bathsheba, just before King David's general executes his ally, which throws the country into civil war.


The messenger takes a gulp, raises his eyes to me, and for a long time, he is watching me watching him.
At last I say, “Speak!”
And in a careful, measured manner of speech, he says, “I come from Absalom’s feast.” 
“Describe it for me, in detail. I want to know exactly what happened, from the beginning.”
Words start gushing out of his mouth as if a dam has burst open in him. “At the beginning,” he says, “this was the most joyful, sumptuous affair I’ve ever seen. It was set outdoors, in full view of the shearing of the sheep. Local musicians danced along the space, which separated our table from the next one. They played merry tunes, and we were all singing along together. The sound was interrupted by nothing except a little bleat, here and there.”
“Was there a big crowd?” I inquire. “How many of Absalom’s friends were present?”
“Dozens of them! They huddled together, sitting along the wooden benches, chinking their cups against the surface of the table, so the servants would hurry up already and bring wine and beer.”
“And the prince, Amnon? Was he sitting there, among them?

Excerpt from The Edge of Revolt, just before the guests kill Amnon at Absalom's command, execution style.

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