Connilyn Cossette is back with a gripping new series, The King’s Men! Return to Ancient Israel as King Saul assumes the throne and the Ammonites attempt to conquer the North.
After an anticipatory two-year wait, Connilyn Cossette returns to our bookshelves with an enthralling new book, Voice of the Ancient. Filled with rich history, relatable characters, and profound lessons in faith and obedience, this book swept me off my feet, immersing me into pages of the Bible I’ve read dozens of times but never taken the time to consider… until now.
“Let our enemies underestimate us and our God, as they had always done. We would show them that a well-crafted sword alone does not make a warrior but a heart of fierce devotion to his king and country can transform the humblest of men into legend.” ~ Connilyn Cossette
Synopsis: As the eldest son of a Levite and a Philistine, Avidan is torn between his duty to his family legacy and the desire for something more. After an enemy attack strikes close to home, he takes the opportunity to fight with his cousins for the newly crowned King Saul. But when one of the cousins goes missing during the battle, Avidan refuses to leave him behind.
“Nearly every time I had made a decision lately, I’d failed or caused destruction. Either way, I would be leaving someone behind. Leaving them to an uncertain fate.” ~ Connilyn Cossette
Keziah is the daughter of one of the most powerful clan chiefs in the territory of Manasseh. On the brink of a forced marriage to a loathsome man decades older than her, she has no choice but to run, hoping to find sanctuary with her mother’s family.
“I’d never truly had a real friend, unless I counted my horse, and certainly had never known a man who cared anything for me beside my worth as a bride.” ~ Connilyn Cossette
United during their journeys and battling to survive the dangers that surround them, Avidan and Keziah make a pact to travel together. As challenges pile up, they must not only rely on each other to stay alive but also learn to trust the true and eternal King of Israel to guide their every step.
Voice of the Ancient is an incredible novel, written with clarity and depth, that transformed a few chapters in 1 Samuel into a vivid experience. I genuinely admire Connilyn Cossette’s ability to bring these historical events to life and dive into the twelve tribes of Israel’s differing opinions, lifestyles, and beliefs. After everything Yahweh did to take His people out of Egypt, you’d think they would worship Him forever, but after settling in the Promised Land, many turned away, forgetting their history and adopting their neighbor’s gods. Watching Keziah open her heart to Truth as she listened to Avi tell the stories of their ancestors was beautiful to witness. Avidan’s own journey from rebellion to embracing his true calling was also inspiring. I loved seeing these characters grasp the true meaning of Yahweh’s steadfast love and grace.
“I clung to him and wondered how it was that he’d stumbled into my life when I needed him most. It was almost as though some unseen hand had gently shepherded us onto the same path.” ~ Connilyn Cossette
While many of us read to escape our world, Voice of the Ancient’s captivating storyline is more than entertainment; it’s a reminder to hold tight to God’s promises and trust that He knows what is best for us. Though we might think we know better or that the weight is ours to carry, Avi and Keziah’s story shows us that the Ancient One is always there to light the path and release us from burdens that aren’t ours to fulfill. In her author’s note, Connilyn writes of the modern parallels between her character’s struggles and our own lives, urging us to examine the divisions, misconceptions, and distractions that cloud our spiritual identity and purpose. I pray the reminder of our sacred covenant with Yahweh and the call to stand against the Enemy will be woven into the hearts of everyone who picks up this book.
“The anointed one shall abide by the counsel of the Most High, The voice of the Ancient One to light his every step. A shield to both the humble and the valiant, His mighty fortress offers refuge to all who call on the Name. From ashes and dust shall his glory arise, a diadem of splendor to grace the head of the lowly.” ~ Connilyn Cossette
Lastly, I cannot forget Sarru, Keziah’s horse, who consistently stole the spotlight with his charisma and charm — he reminded me of Black Beauty. I hope this won’t be the last we see of Sarru or Connilyn’s portrayal of animal companions!
*Thank you, NetGalley and the publisher, for providing me with a pre-release copy of this novel. All thoughts and opinions are entirely my own.*
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Scroll down for a special Q&A with the author!
Q&A with Connilyn Cossette
What drew you to this time period to set a series?
Since I just fell in love with Eliora and Lukio/Natan’s family in the Covenant House, I didn’t want to let them go! And I thought it would be fun to slow down a little in the early King’s period and discover what things must have been like during this transitional period in Israel’s history.
Who was your favorite character to write and why?
Hands down, Sarru. (Sorry, Avi and Keziah!) I’ve never written a horse into a story before, and it was fun to write about a horse with such personality. I kept thinking of Maximus the horse in “Tangled” because he’s my favorite character in that movie too.
Which character do you most relate to?
I would probably say Avi. I grew up in a Christian home and knew the Lord from an early age, but I spent some time in my late teens mucking around, trying to do my own thing and following my own desires instead of seeking God’s voice in my decisions. Thankfully, the prayers of my faithful mama and my heavenly Father’s steadfast love helped bring me back from the far country, and over time, like Avi, I’ve embraced the calling I have to speak truth through story and help remind the people of God of their true and sacred identity and point those who are lost to the hope found only in surrender to the One True King.
What was the most interesting piece of research you uncovered while researching this book (even if it didn’t make it into the story)?
I discovered that many Israelites believed that Yahweh and Asherah were married. There is now archeological evidence of such worship, including idols of both together. Unfortunately, the mixing of pagan worship with pure worship of Yahweh has been around for millennia.
Did anything surprise you as you were writing this story, or did anything happen during writing to change the trajectory of this story?
Well, since I was enduring chemotherapy for much of the time, things got a little convoluted and bogged down in the brain fog I was suffering. It was incredibly frustrating. When I was finished, it was almost like two separate books, and all sorts of important connections with plot and character were missed or just a hopeless tangle. It took major, major edits to pick through all the mess and to figure out how to fix those issues, so I ended up rewriting at least a third of the book, mostly toward the end. But the Lord sustained me, cleared my mind of chemo-brain, and now I love this story so much!
What are you hoping readers will glean from this story?
As usual, my goal is always to point readers back to the Word in hopes they will dig in and study it for themselves, especially the Old Testament, with an eye toward ways it illuminates the character of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I also hope that they will come away with a desire to listen more closely to the still, small voice of the Ancient One in every step they take.
Any fun bits of trivia you’d like to share with my readers about this story/your research/process of writing this one, etc, or any behind-the-scenes fun?
My favorite part of researching this book was when I took my kids horseback riding at a local ranch. But of course, the horse I was riding had zero interest in going anywhere that day and pretty much trotted a couple of times and then just was done. At least my kids got their horses to cooperate! It was a really fun day anyhow, and I got absorbed in some great sensory detail for the story!
Was there any part of this story that ministered to you specifically?
I think it was just a good reminder of why I do what I do and the unique calling the Lord has on my life to share truth through stories that glorify His name. And it was such a blessing to lean on His strength when I had none during the difficult process of writing this book while undergoing aggressive cancer treatments and to be reminded of His constant, steadfast love.
For fans of your other books, what references can we expect to past series?
There are multiple appearances of characters from the Covenant House series since this is a spin-off of Between the Wild Branches. It’s always so fun to revisit old friends!
What is coming next, and when can we expect it?
Book Two of the King’s Men will release on August 20, 2024! I’m not ready to say much about it yet, except I LOVE the hero/heroine pairing in this book. It’s an enemy to lovers with lots of sparks and twisty turns along the way! What I will say it that it takes place two years after the events of Voice of the Ancient, so we will catch up with the four cousins (well, three of them at least…) after some time has passed and Saul has been king for a couple of years. Stay tuned for more in the coming months!
How do you decide which words or names you will write in their Hebrew form? Like ima for mother.
I try to add in some Hebrew words for “flavor” and to remind readers that the events of the Bible did not happen in a modern, western culture but instead within the specific context of Ancient Israel, but I am by no means a Hebrew speaker, so I only use them when I feel it fits into the context of the dialogue and comes naturally to my own mind. I’ve written some of those words, like Ima and Abba and Mishkan, etc., for so many years they kind of just come out without forethought now.
How do you choose the names of your characters? Does their Hebrew meaning play a part?
I have a few different resources that I use to find names (websites, Messianic Bibles, etc.) and try to select ones that won’t be too difficult for western ears. But yes, a lot of times I will select names based on their meanings. For the ancient Hebrews, the meaning of the names was so important and was even changed, like Abraham or Jacob, because of a shift in character or purpose, so I keep that in mind. But sometimes, especially with names of foreigners in my stories, I make them up!
What historical event are you most excited to write about in this new series? (If you can say without giving away spoilers)
Hm. I don’t think I can say without spoiling Book Two! But I can tell you I am having lots of fun discovering new things about events/battles during the reign of King Saul! I’ve always just glossed over Saul to get to David since he’s one of my favorites, so it’s great to slow down and hang out with Saul for a bit and look for interesting nuggets that fit into or even transform my plots!
How has your writing style or methods changed since writing your debut novel?
Hugely. I was a complete pantser (*write by the seat of your pants) back then. I had zero clue how to build a plot from scratch and have learned so much over the past decade about doing so. These days, I’m much more structured and purposeful in plotting and building characters. I have plotting partners that help me with getting started, and then I build a general outline chapter by chapter first (although those details change constantly along the way). I also handwrite much of the manuscript now, which has been a huge game changer for my imagination. I recently even changed the way I mind-map in order to brainstorm each scene before putting pen to paper! I’m always learning new tricks and tweaking my process to figure out what works best for me.
Will you keep writing series until you reach the end of the Old Testament?
Maybe? I guess I’ll just see where the Lord leads me!