About the Book
Book: A Voice within the Flame
Author: Henry O. Arnold
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Release Date: December 1, 2020
A son of the vow…a voice for a nation
For many long years, Hannah prayed for a son; a son finally granted to her only when she promised him back to God. Samuel, son of the vow, grows up in the Tabernacle, his childhood spent in the company of priests and Levites, in service to a God who was always silent. Samuel watches in dismay as the sons of the High Priest flaunt their wicked behavior, yet he knows that Yahweh will eventually have a reckoning. It is not until he hears a Voice call to him from within the flames of the altar that he realizes he has a part to play in this drama.
This young man hears another voice from a maiden who captures his heart, and he begins to dream of a future beyond the confines of the Tabernacle. But when Israel’s enemies threaten to destroy his world, it appears as though everything Samuel ever held dear may come tumbling down around him.
Not even a great prophet, whose words never fall to the ground, can keep Israel from crying out for a king. The Lord calls upon Samuel to guide the nation and her new king through the years of turmoil they must face.
In this tale of triumph and scorn, deepest love and burning rivalries, the new epoch is given a voice…and it is a Song of Prophets and Kings.
Click HERE to get your copy!
About the Author
Henry O. Arnold has co-authored a work of fiction, Hometown Favorite, with Bill Barton, and nonfiction, KABUL24, with Ben Pearson. He also co-wrote and produced with Steve Taylor (director) and Ben Pearson the film The Second Chance starring Michael W. Smith, the screenplay for the authorized film documentary on evangelist Billy Graham, God’s Ambassador, and the documentary film KABUL24, based on the book which is the story of western and Afghani hostages held captive by the Taliban for 105 days. He lives on a farm in Tennessee with his lovely wife Kay. They have two beautiful daughters married to two handsome men with three above-average grandchildren. For more information please visit: www.henryoarnold.com
More from Henry
So many people have asked me why I became a writer. I usually respond with a one-word answer: unemployment. I know, not very inspirational or romantic, but it was a reality-based choice. I had (and still am) been a professional actor for about ten years. Received a lot of diplomas affirming my professional choice and gotten a lot of gigs that convinced me that I was employable. Then I hit a dry-spell. The theatre company I had helped to found went belly-up. I also had recently gotten married. So I was feeling the mixture of joy and dejection at the same time. It was then that I chose to begin writing a series of one-man shows on biblical characters. I was able to combine my passion for the theatre and my love of Scripture in one artistic form.
After the golden age of theatre in the Greek and Roman times, the theatre went dark, very dark as in Dark Ages, and for centuries it was thus. But it was the church that brought the theatre back to life by staging passion plays on biblical subjects. Since most people could not read at the time, it was a great way to tell the folks some Bible stories. It was my desire to do the same thing with my one-man shows. The third of my one-man plays was on the character of King David. I wrote it while shooting a film. For an actor in a film there is a lot of “hurry up and wait.” So I used my “wait” time to write. Within a year I was showcasing the play to some select audiences before I begin to get some regular jobs out of this show and the two others I had previously written.
Then I decided to write what I thought would be a trilogy of the first three kings of Israel. These would be full-length plays for a multiple cast. The first installment was entitled “The Mighty Have Fallen,” and the focus was on King Saul. My father was the head of the theatre department at a university, and he was kind enough to produce and direct the show with his students. It was a success, and after an extensive rewrite, I sent a copy to Academy Award winner, F. Murray Abraham, thinking he would be the perfect King Saul. He wrote a terse and unambiguous response, “Not my cup of tea, but thanks.”
I knew then that my artistic dream might be more of an uphill climb than I had anticipated, and I settled into scheduling the one-man shows around all the other theatre and film work I was doing. But the dream of writing an historical fiction series on the first three kings and the first three major prophets of Israel never left me. I called the series, A Song of Prophets and Kings, and it simmered on the back-burner until about five years ago when I sat down in earnest and began to write a first draft of what has now become A Voice Within the Flame. It was totally liberating to write this first volume in the form of a novel. I did not have to worry about budgets or too many characters or too many big scenes. I could just tell a story.
It took a long to find the right home for this story, but I am excited to welcome into the literary landscape my dream of presenting the first installment of my historical fiction series to all readers who love the drama found in these great biblical stories.
Luke 10:24 “For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.”
As I’ve mentioned before, Biblical fiction is generally a hit-or-miss genre, particularly when the main subject is an actual Biblical figure or event as opposed to a fictional character interacting with or living alongside people from the Bible, and even more so if the focus is on the Old Testament. Remaining true to the inerrant Word of God while creating a narrative of what life was like—the minutiae—before, during, and after the details that we read in the Bible requires research, prayer, and inspiration. It is not an easy task, and there are some readers who shy away from this category for various understandable reasons. As a result, it can be difficult to find books that explore the ancient Biblical world without superimposing modernity onto it in the form of customs, ideas, and interpretations. Some of the best authors in the genre include Tessa Afshar, Mesu Andrews, Connilyn Cossette, Brennan McPherson, and now, Henry Arnold.
A previously-unknown-to-me author, Henry Arnold has just released A Voice Within the Flame, book one of The Song of Prophets and Kings series. From the beautiful front cover that harkens back to Moses’ encounter with Yahweh in the burning bush and subtly alludes to the Mosaic Law still in place during this time period to the narrative itself, this book draws readers in immediately. I will admit that I had some apprehension at first, wondering if it would be boring or would diverge too much from the Biblical account. However, I can honestly say that once I started reading, I didn’t want to stop! I did occasionally cross-reference a few things with the Bible, but more for the purpose of refreshing my memory or learning more than for fact-checking. What I found most intriguing about this book is the background of Samuel; as with any extra-Biblical text, it is not necessarily exactly how each event happened or how each person felt, but I think that Arnold does well in using the Bible to inform his story and give readers a reasonable idea of the life of Samuel.
One of the aspects of Biblical fiction that I love the most is the humanity that it brings to the people of the Bible. For seasoned Christians especially, we can become so familiar with the stories of the Word that we rarely pause to think about how these people felt in the situations they faced or in day-to-day living. A Voice Within the Flame offers a possible account of how the events unfolded. Named Samuel, meaning “God has heard”, the miracle-baby changes the lives of not only his own family forever, but Israel itself. As heart-wrenching as it is to read about Hannah giving Samuel back to God around age 4 to learn and to serve in the Tabernacle, it is even more heart-warming to view it all from the perspective of history and to see (at least in part) that God was and always will be in control. As Hannah marvels at Samuel’s birth, “There had been no guarantee of this blessing, only the hope, and now they touched with their hands this visible, human soul of Yahweh’s favor.” Eli, the High Priest who teaches Samuel, also recognizes something special about him. “This was their son, eleven years in the making, Yahweh’s gift to them…a gift the Almighty would reclaim.”
As with so much of the Bible, a great deal of it is being fulfilled before our eyes, and the same can be said in Samuel’s case. The High Priest Eli teaches his students, Samuel among them, the foreshadowing of persecution and trials ahead. He warns them about the Benjamites, referencing the story of the Levite and his concubines from Judges 19-21 and proclaiming that “slaughter begets slaughter.” In a prescient lesson regarding this serious issue, he remarks that “To serve the people of Israel, you must know the people of Israel. Know our dark hearts and corrupted minds. Know that we are broken and fearful. Know that the longer Yahweh is kept at a distance the more craven we become.” How sadly yet starkly true this is for us today, as we near the end of 2020! Later in Samuel’s story, he follows in Eli’s footsteps to some degree, as his sons also rebel against Yahweh. Samuel, however, is upright, the last of the judges and a man who listened to and followed God, establishing the monarchy of Israel by anointing Saul, a Benjamite. That did not work out well for Saul, in the end, and eventually the shepherd boy David becomes king, in the patrilineage of Jesus Himself.
An epic story of the necessity of putting God first, A Voice Within the Flame separates the main sections of Samuel’s story into four parts and proves that God is always working behind the scenes and always in control, despite outward appearances.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through Celebrate Lit and was not required to post a favorable review. All opinions are my own.
My rating: 5 stars ♥♥♥♥♥
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Texas Book-aholic, December 18
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For Him and My Family, December 21
deb’s Book Review, December 22
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Adventures of a Travelers Wife, December 24 (Author Interview)
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Artistic Nobody, December 26 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Ashley’s Bookshelf, December 27
Locks, Hooks and Books, December 28
To celebrate his tour, Henry is giving away the grand prize package of a signed copy of the book and a $25 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.