The Wanderer: Scorned is biblical fiction. Natasha describes it as ‘a story that we all know, as you’ve never heard it before.’
Its sequel, The Wanderer Reborn is due for release in Winter 2022.
The Wanderer is a man shrouded in legend. Moving from place to place in the land of Nod, he is known primarily for the curse that hangs over his life. When that curse is invoked during the celebration of a murderous rampage, the Wanderer is summoned to tell his story. The tale has been obscured by centuries of rumour, and few know the truth. Yet now, they shall hear it from the lips of the man who lived it: the man who became the Wanderer.
The Wanderer Scorned plunges straight into action as it opens. I was immediately intrigued by the family relationships of the violent and threatening Lamek, and his two wives.
This is biblical fiction, and the story upon which the author has chosen to base her novel is that of Cain and Abel, the children of Adam and Eve: Cain was a farmer, who murdered his brother Abel, a shepherd. In the bible story, Cain was banished by the Lord from the settled country; he it was who became a Wanderer.
All these events take place in the early Bronze Age, and reflect the growing tension between farmers and shepherds, between ‘settled’ tribes and nomads, who were at odds in the dry climate of the early Bronze Age Levant.
I found the author’s handling of her story highly skilled and polished; we are very soon plunged into a fascinating family drama which imagines the story of Cain’s descendants.
As the story opens, we meet Chanok, eldest son of Kayin the Wanderer (also known as Abba); (Kayin himself is the eldest child of Adam and Chavah, the first man and the first woman); Lamek (5th generation descendent of Kayin and son of Methushael); Adah, Lamek’s first wife; and Tzillah, Lamek’s second wife.
Taking a significant role in the story are Adam/Abba – the first man; and Eve/Chavah (the first woman, also known as Ima). We also meet their other offspring: Awan and Habel – twins; Chayyim and Avigayil; and Shimon and Channeh – also twins
Lots of unusual names – but hang in there! I found excellent descriptive writing and attention to detail. The author conveys the atmosphere and setting very well and as a reader I can imagine myself into that lifestyle of the earliest farmer in the Middle East in the Bronze Age.
Above all though, our attention is on the dramatic and heartrending tale of fractured family relationships which the author sets out before us. As we progress through the narrative told by Kayin, the sibling rivalry, tragic misunderstandings and miscommunications build up. This is all complicated by the fact that they as the offspring of the first man and woman must choose their partners from among their siblings. Kayin becomes ever more deceitful, and cannot rid himself of anger and envy.
We reach a point where the tension is ratcheted up extremely high: we the readers can see Kayin’s psychological torment increasing together with his paranoia; and because we know the outcome to the story of Cain and Abel, we know what is going to happen. That makes the story even more suspenseful. As I read, I am bracing myself for the terrible moment to arrive. Along with this, I feel I don’t like Kayin at all; he annoys me with his resentful attitude, his unforgiveness, and his wilful negative interpretations of every effort by his siblings and parents to pacify him. I feel like slapping his face and saying, “get over it.” I much prefer Habel, who, I feel, is innocent and unsuspecting of what is going to happen to him.
Tragedy ensues, as we know: the author brings us to a highly dramatic moment, with many questions unanswered. Those who want to know the answers must wait for the sequel later this year!
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