Day of War (Lion of War Series #1)

Day of War (Lion of War Series #1)

by Cliff Graham

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310331841
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 06/11/2011
Series: Lion of War Series , #1
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishing
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 304,510
File size: 3 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Cliff Graham is an Army veteran and the author of the Lion of War Series, soon to be a major motion picture franchise from director David L. Cunningham (The Path to 9/11)and producer Grant Curtis (the Spider-Man films). He currently lives in the mountains of Utah with his wife and children.

Read an Excerpt

Day of War

Lion of War Series
By Cliff Graham


Copyright © 2011 Cliff Graham
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-310-33183-4

Chapter One

Benaiah the son of Jehoiada had never seen a snowstorm, and now he wished it had remained that way.

It never snowed in the south, Benaiah's home. He had only heard legends of the freezing rain as a boy. Travelers from the east would speak of it when they stopped at his village to water their camels and replenish stores for the crossing to Egypt. They told of a powerful blanket of white that fell over the land and killed plants and livestock. At the time, he had yearned for it with a boy's enthusiasm for the unknown. But, as with many of life's youthful mysteries, it quickly lost appeal once he was in the thick of it.

Cold wind whipped across his face. Benaiah held his hands over his eyes, waiting for it to pass before continuing his climb. Snow covered the mountain trail and he was forced to pick his way among the ice-covered rocks.

In the south, the month of Aviv brought the land into full bloom under abundant sunshine. The barley would be ripening on the plains, signaling the approach of Passover and its reliably pleasant weather. But the tall mountain ridges of this northern country were crested with white, and the dreary gray sky promised more of it.

Crouching next to a large boulder, he adjusted his grip on the spear shaft and listened. The wind stirred up enough noise to prevent him from hearing around the bend ahead. He knew the creature could be hiding among the many boulders and clefts along the slope. He studied each one carefully for a flash of gold fur.

Frowning, he moved up the path again. They had said it was large. Three times the size of a man, maybe ten or eleven cubits — absurd, since no creature could be ten cubits. The village elders said the beast came late at night. Perhaps they were so afraid of it that every shadow in the torchlight became part of the lion.

Benaiah had hunted lions all of his life. He knew that it took only one kill for them to realize that man was easy prey. It was better to hunt them in groups, and since the other warriors in Benaiah's band were marching north at the moment, he'd had to recruit two men from the village to come along. They were stout enough, and accustomed to harsh living on the frontier, but one of them was elderly and the other was very young.

Most of the men in the land who were of fighting ability and age were preparing for war in the north, gathering equipment and training ahead of a rumored Philistine invasion. The king had summoned them all, farmer and herder alike, leaving a shortage of men in the villages capable of defending their homes or engaging in heavy labor. Philistines tended to cause trouble in the days leading up to Passover because they knew that some of the Hebrews still observed it. Saul, the king of the Israelites, had been using Passover as the reason to build his army, claiming that their holy lands were being overrun by pagans during their holiest month. Although Saul's true devotion to Passover was, at best, questionable, Benaiah thought as he crept his way up the path.

He had almost missed the village when he'd arrived that morning out of the forest. It was small and well away from the major trading routes, but the people took pride in their buildings. Family homes were surrounded by stone walls and built with sturdy mud brick roofs similar to the modern construction in the cities on the plains. There were buildings where farmers brought their supplies to work the reaping floor. Wheat would be harvested in another month or two, depending on the weather and the amount of runoff water that gathered in the valleys, and he saw reapers sharpening their flint blades for when the time came to trim the tops of the bundles.

Even though the olive harvest would not occur until much later in the season, men were already working on the village olive press. More than likely, it was the only one in the region and would see heavy use when the time came. A man was testing the beam press by filling baskets with rocks to simulate ripe olives. The beam extended over a notched stone that sat above a collection basin. The counterweights hanging from the lever would create enough pressure on the olives that an ample amount of oil would squeeze into the pan underneath.

Benaiah could tell that the small community was primarily a herding one. Since the time of shearing was just beginning, there were hundreds of sheep from the region being prepared. First, they were corralled into a series of pools where the shepherds would scrub them clean and then let them scamper out, bleating wildly, to dry out in the sun. The wool would be cleaned again after it was shorn and then stretched out in the sun to dry while it was raked. But that morning there was no sunshine, only the cold dreariness of early spring in this country, and the frustration of the shepherds had been evident as Benaiah passed them.

He paused to watch one shepherd struggling to hold down a thrashing, bleating sheep. The man struck it on the snout, but that had no effect. He struck it harder, and the sheep finally calmed down. With strength gained from years of chasing the stubborn and foolish creatures through the highlands, the shepherd pinned the sheep between his knees, tucked his robe back into his belt, and dunked the animal underwater. When it popped up again, he combed his fingers through the matted wool to clean it of mud, excrement, and dead insects.

When he was done, the man released the sheep. It charged through the water to find the herd, agitated but clean. The shepherd wiped his brow, noticed Benaiah watching him, and nodded warily. Benaiah returned the nod and continued walking.

Some of the workers he passed had paused from chiseling stones or preparing the harvest blades and were eating leben, the goat's-milk dish curdled into porridge. Tough loaves of bread were dipped in vinegar and passed from man to man. A few threw handfuls of parched grain into their mouths to chew on while they worked.

Despite their labor and willingness to stay busy, fear was apparent everywhere he looked. Mothers shouted at children for going near the edge of town. Farmers and herders, nearly all of them past the age at which men ceased such work, had streamed past him, almost hiding behind their mules. Oxen, possibly sensing the presence of the terrible predators lurking nearby, refused to depart the village with their carts to return through the forest to the trade roads. Their owners beat them with reed sticks, but they would not be budged.

Benaiah was wearing a dark traveling cloak, and he imagined that he must have looked like a phantom emerging from the mist to the children watching from the rooftops. His bulky, muscled frame made his cloak billow out even more, an effect he intended. He swept his eyes back and forth while he walked, always searching his surroundings for threats. His black hair and beard had been trimmed short because it was the start of the campaign season, the time when kings could finally lead their armies to the field after being in garrison all winter while the soldiers tended their herds and took care of other home matters.

Benaiah had expected warmer weather, but at the last moment he had grabbed the heavier cloak, since it provided more comfort while he slept on the ground. Now, climbing through the snow, he was grateful for it. Under the cloak he wore a short battle tunic that came only halfway down his thighs and was laced, out of tradition, with a pattern of blue string on the fringe. When fighting, the short tunic was much preferable to the cloak. Too much loose material was a liability.

He carried a spear, a bow with arrows, a sword, and in his belt a dagger, all forged from iron, which had drawn no shortage of stares from the people in the village. Iron was rare, especially in weapons. Straps from the shield on his back hung over his shoulders.

Benaiah had approached the town's common area near the well and knelt before the group of elders deep in discussion under an overhang nearby. He briefly told them who had sent him. When they asked why no more had come along, he informed them that his own army was marching north with the other soldiers in the land and he was all that could be spared.

The elders insisted that he take more men with him in search of the lion, but Benaiah resisted, insisting that too many would make noise and alert the creature. One of the elders, Jairas, wanted to come, and Benaiah consented, believing it would be good for the morale of the town to see one of their own come along. A young man named Haratha, one of the few physically strong men left in the village, demonstrated that he could sling proficiently, and Benaiah allowed him to come as well.

Benaiah handed Jairas his sickle sword. The man's momentary puzzlement showed that this was a different design from the swords Jairas had seen before, with a longer tip and less curvature — and it was iron. Several of the veterans among the elders wanted to question Benaiah about it, but he just shook his head. They had no time.

Benaiah kept the spear and bow and fastened his shield to his back. He gave Haratha a pouch of heavy copper pellets and told him to sling them at the animal's head to distract it after Benaiah shot the first arrow, giving Benaiah time to release another. Once the creature was wounded, it would likely charge, and Benaiah told them that he would take the charge with his spear while Haratha got a safe distance away and Jairas stabbed the sword into the hide between the ribs.

The animal had already killed several people, including a small boy who had wandered off by himself into the forest to find consolation when his siblings tormented him. The grief-stricken family had been standing nearby when Benaiah and the elders were talking, their clothes torn in mourning, their faces downcast. The body had not been found and likely would not. There would be no burial ceremony. No closure. Benaiah had tried to ignore the sinking feeling in his chest, the black memories in his mind.

Several hours had passed now since the three of them had climbed out of town on a game trail, following the faint spoor. Somewhere lower on the rocky slopes, they had crossed the snow line. What was simply a cold rain in the lower valleys was falling as snow on the high ridges, accumulating on the ground and making the spoor difficult to follow and progress on the hunt slow.

The sun peeked through the gray sky occasionally, only to be quickly shrouded again in the blanket of snow clouds. Benaiah kept the men moving, fearing they would lose their courage if too much rest was given. Even though they kept to a moderate pace, sweat was dampening their clothing anyway, bringing with it the danger of freezing to death. The icy terrain was hardest on Jairas, who struggled to keep up.

The lion was following the trail cut through the pass by the people in the village to reach the higher grazing grounds. Benaiah assumed that, with the late spring snowstorms, the animal had descended to search for food in the valleys.

Benaiah studied the spoor, glanced up and down the valley, and nodded to himself. The lion must have followed the scent of the sheep, encountered the first victim in the forest, and killed him out of fright. Then, because it had been an easy kill and the flesh was sweet and tender, the lion had decided to stay near the village and take more people, most recently the boy from the night before.

The approach Benaiah was taking was the worst possible way to hunt the deadliest animal alive. He had hunted them since childhood — but on organized hunts, with many skilled men working together. Were it not for his hurry to finish this mission and get back to his men currently marching north, he would have taken a day or two to prepare. But the chief had made it clear: get there, kill the lion, establish our goodwill, and get back fast.

They stopped to rest at the top of a steep climb in the trail. To their left was the dense forest of the upper mountain, growing darker in the gray late afternoon. On their right, the slope fell sharply before leveling out just before the forest near the village far below on the valley floor. Somewhere in the distance he heard water running and guessed there was a stream flowing under the blanket of snow.

"Lions are territorial and don't stray far from their hunting grounds," Benaiah whispered to the other two.

"I assume we are the bait," said Jairas quietly.

Benaiah nodded. They resumed their climb.

Most of the afternoon slipped away. The higher they climbed, the colder the air turned. Jairas and Haratha were huffing for breath, and Benaiah began to wonder how much longer they could hold out, especially considering what awaited them among the rocks of the mountains.

The trail led toward more snow-covered rocky outcroppings. The day would be ending soon. Benaiah debated with himself: Abandon the pursuit? Return tomorrow? He strained to hear any birds or hyraxes squealing a warning. He kicked the path every few steps and checked the swirl of powdery light snow to confirm the wind direction.

Just then, around the curve of the path ahead, he heard the sound of dogs bellowing. He had seen dogs in the company of several merchants he had passed on the road to town. The dogs must have scented the lion and chased it themselves.

Senses fully alert, the group trotted carefully forward. As they rounded an outcropping of stone, the saddle between the hills came into view. Across a small cleft in the hillside, crouched against a rock in front of the yowling dogs, was the cornered lion.

Its hide was a dusty yellow and matted with gore from a recent kill. Black tufts of hair formed its mane, dotting the area around its head and shoulders. Its muscles coiled and snapped with fearsome power. The roar was now constant, and so loud that it seemed as though the mountainside shook with each echo. The elder had been right about its size — it was the largest lion Benaiah had ever seen.

One of the dogs noticed them and turned. The lion snarled and swung a paw, knocking it senseless. The other dogs howled and nipped at its hindquarters. Though heavily outmatched, they were bravely staying with it.

Benaiah yanked an arrow from the quiver. They closed to within fifty cubits of the lion, watching it strike another dog with its paw, killing it instantly. Steam rushed from its mouth as it roared again.

Benaiah saw Haratha halt in terror.

"Keep moving! We have to get closer!" Benaiah called.

Haratha bobbled his sling, dropping the copper pellet. He glanced up at the lion, his eyes wide with fright.

The lion lowered its head and flattened its ears, signaling a charge. It roared again.

Within arrow range now, Benaiah lifted his bow up and pulled the notched end of the arrow to his mouth. The motion was so familiar that he had the lion within his sights instantly.

The lion struck the last of the dogs down, then sprang from its crouch toward the terrified Haratha. Benaiah's foot slipped on the snow and he lost his target. He yelled again for Haratha to release while he struggled to stand again.

Before the creature reached him, Haratha managed to launch a copper pellet that miraculously hit the charging animal in the head. A spurt of red mist erupted from the lion's face. It snarled and paused briefly to paw at its head where the pellet had struck it in or near the eye. By that time Benaiah had regained his balance and sent an arrow into its hide.

The lion winced at the arrow but leaped again, struck Haratha, and tumbled with him across the slope. The lion slashed and snarled, but abandoned Haratha and sprang up the slope toward Benaiah.

Benaiah felt his muscles tense. The animal moved faster than he'd thought it could on the snow, but he was ready. The arrow he sent would have caught the creature in the throat if it hadn't slipped on an icy rock and stumbled.

That was all he had time to do before, with a flash of golden fur and the hot stench of rotting flesh from the animal's jaws, he felt the animal's crushing weight and infinite strength, and then he was rolling, smashed against the frozen ground, his face grinding against the icy pebbles as the monster roared in his ear.

Benaiah managed to stop by shoving his hand into a snow bank and digging his fingers all the way to the ground. He winced, waiting for the next strike, but the lion had turned away from him, lowering its head and flattening its ears. Then it charged back toward Haratha — but Jairas had stepped between them, sword in hand.


Excerpted from Day of War by Cliff Graham Copyright © 2011 by Cliff Graham. Excerpted by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Day of War 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Silverbill More than 1 year ago
998 B.C. I felt pleased and blessed when Zondervan sent me a copy of "Day of War," by Cliff Graham. Cliff has signed note read: Psalms 140:7 "O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle." Battle rage and battle weariness are continuous themes throughout the novel. Understanding how warriors actually fell under those conditions and what they depend on is one of the great achievements of this book. To know God's covering, praying for it during time of desperate need is an even greater achievement. The tale of David and his mighty men comes from two Bible sources; 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11 and have been a favorite of mine for 30 years. Graham has truly captured the brutality and male heroism of ancient Israel. He has taken the story of King David the warlord and his Mighty Men and written the first installment of an epic tale on a scale with, the valor of "The 300, a tale of the Spartans'" and hopefully will have greater impact at the box office. 2012 will see a major motion picture from David Cunningham (Path to 911) and Grant Curtis (Spiderman 1, 2, &3) with another sequel the following year. This is a page-turner, which I could not put down. It is deeply masculine, but not in sense of bulging muscles, macho, and blind killing machine sort of way, (it is a very violent book). Graham touches on the deeper part of manhood as the reader sees the main character, Benaiah, who suffers through the insecurities, guilt's, and frustrations that every man battles during his life. The relationships between the main characters in the story evidence the fact that Graham has served in the military and understands the inexplicable bond of men who fight together. I marvel at how well written the book is yet remains as faithful to the biblical record which inspires it. Benaiah, David, The Three along with the other Mighty Men are going to be the heroes of the next generation.
jontd45 More than 1 year ago
An incredible, hard to put down, page turnig historical fiction novel based on the biblical story of David and his mighty men. The battle scenes are intense and graphic with swordplay,spears, daggers, bow and arrows and rocks. (Helpful biblical reference for this action novel is 2 Samuel 23 & 1 Chronicles 11).
UnderthePink More than 1 year ago
Wow! What an amazing book! Cliff Graham really knows how to make battle scenes come to life! I am a huge Gladiator, 300 etc. fan, and this book did NOT disappoint! A lot of fighting, blood and gore, so if you're into happy-feely, princess books, this is not for you. It really makes the battles of King David and his Mighty men come to life. 5 Stars!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I know most of the reviews are written by men, so I thought I would throw in my 2 cents for a little variety. I am 26 and female, and I LOVED this book! While yes it is very graphic and gruesome, I appreciated that Cliff Graham did not hold back in his descriptions. By adding in these parts, I felt more immersed in this story- like I was actually there in the dessert thousands of years ago. I thought this book was a great fiction story that made David and his Mighty Men more relate-able than any other. I will definitely be getting the next book in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've read quite a few books and let me just say, The Lion of War series is some of the best literature I've ever read. Never have I been so emersed in a story or characters. If you love nitty gritty biblical fiction with action packed fighting along with the grace of God, I recommend this series! 
RoosterCogburnVA More than 1 year ago
We always here about David and his Mighty Men but nothing really specific to what made them mighty. This author works wonders with words to try and fill in those gaps. Reads very much like Gates of Fire and really leaves you in awe of what made these men who they were.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Taking into consideration the fictional aspect of this was exceptional. A truly believable account of David and his rise to kingship over a very broken people. Now to go back and read the coinciding OT books about David and his will never read them the same!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Incredible reading
jeanettewindle More than 1 year ago
This was SUCH an outstanding read, on the times of King David from the POV of David's Mighty Men, one of the world's early Special Ops forces. I saw this as a free download, but didn't bother as I assumed it was one more same-oh biblical fiction on the life of David, of which I've read many in two languages, until some military acquaintances starting raving about it. This was definitely written by a warrior and is one of the best and most realistic novels set in biblical times I've ever read. The only drawback: the story didn't finish, and the sequel isn't yet out. I am hooked and waiting anxiously for the next installment. Just hope it is soon!
10_guys_book_club_fritz More than 1 year ago
very good book
tisnotabtu More than 1 year ago
action packed and keeps your interest from start to finish.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good but not great. Thoroughly enjoyable but enthralling. Many scenes simply take too long with too much detail. Not in a Quintin Tarrintino sort of way building suspense. Just simply too long. I felt like the first third of the book was about the fight with the lion. Not enough story there to carry that much of the book. On the positive side, the characters are very believable and the made up back stories connect the reader with them in a way that otherwise wouldn't happen. Would love to see this as a movie.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perfect guy book! If you like history or just good combat this is a must read. It starts a little confusing but it comes together masterfully!
DavidRomano More than 1 year ago
Graham is an amazing writer, no questions asked. His ability to write Biblical fiction from a soldier's point of view is second to none. He knows war and he knows the Bible, and that combination makes his stories poignant, moving, and so real. The Lord has truly blessed him with a gift for bringing His followers to life thousands of years after their deeds were written down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A story that articulates what every boy wonders when he reads 1 Chronicles 11. Disclaimer: not a read for young boys. Violent and mature themes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A different prospective on the life of David worth the read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although the battle scenes were not as polished as some I've read, the descriptive phrasing and dialogue in this story is solid. For those who are interested in the details of King David's life, this book offers a compelling version well worth reading! I will be reading the rest of the series!
217DY More than 1 year ago
Great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW!! Incredible!
cwflatt on LibraryThing 26 days ago
EXCELLENT!! One of the best historical fiction books and by far the best Christian Book I have read. I can't wait for the other 5. This book is 300 with inferior weapons, but the power of God for determination and retribution. Will definitively make you want God on your side everyday in your "Day of War".
Adayriddle on LibraryThing 26 days ago
The first in the Lion of War Series this one will have you hooked from the first page. New hero's are born from an old story. For the first time in epic proportions the story of David and his mighty men is brought to life in such a fashion that one can not help but to desire to be as heroic as these men. I can't wait for my sons to be old enough to delve into this gripping story of war and honor, of struggle and victory. David's Mighty men are brought to life and their story is highlighted within the pages of this book.Very masculine in it's themes it is still an enjoyable read for women. In fact I read it purely out of a curiosity of this biblical fiction piece. My question being - Could anyone truly do justice to the untold and often overlooked impact that these trusted men of David had on the course of history. My answer - ABSOLUTELY. Cliff Graham has done an exceedingly good job.In each page the reader can feel the tension of the political climate and the cost of the sacrificial lifestyle of these men. They fought alongside and under the leadership of one of the greatest kings in history. Come along for a very personal journey into their lives and discover for yourself the magnitude of their service and impact on history as we know it.Thank you Zondervan for this review copy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great looks at what it could have been like being one of david's mkghty me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jedge1234 More than 1 year ago
Just finished book one of the series and it was fantastic. Easy to read, and the pace gets quicker with every chapter and at the end you are waiting more. Great job by the author to get the historical facts correct and still give us a story that keep our interested. I am looking forward to reading book two and three.