Joab’s Fire – a distant hope
–by Lynn Squire
Reviewed by Alice Valdal
Set in Western Canada, in an area now known as Alberta, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Joab’s Fire is a retelling of the story of Job from the Bible. Sgt. Clarence Dixon of the North West Mounted Police is the hero of the story, but, in many ways, Joab Black is the protagonist. In the character of Abbadon, Ms Squire has created a masterful version of evil incarnate. Handsome, charming, talented, this character slips into people’s lives, bringing chaos and destruction yet always eludes those who would call him to account, the quintessential villain.
Like Job, Joab is a good man, upright, generous, faithful and prosperous. When evil in the guise of a man called Abbadon, comes to town, Joab suffers terrible loss through no fault of his own. His son, his livelihood, his health are all taken from him.. Sgt. Dixon is determined to confront Abbadon and bring him to justice but he cannot prove that Abbadon caused the harm that befell Joab. What’s worse, Sgt. Dixon has a secret that, if revealed, could mean the end of his career or even death. Somehow, Abbadon has discovered that secret. Instead of finding justice for his friend, Sgt. Dixon must now confront his own guilt and face the consequences, while Abbadon continues to smile and spread misery.
I won’t give away the story here, but I will point you to II Corinthians 12:9
And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
If the author’s intent was to make readers of Joab’s Fire turn to their Bibles, she certainly succeeded with me. The minute I closed her book, I hunted up Job in my Bible, and looked for similarities, especially in the “friends” who came to comfort Job/Joab. While the Biblical characters had always seemed remote to me, Barty and Nathaniel were very real, and, truth be told, often annoying. We can all relate to the busybody!
Alice: Of all the stories in the Bible, Job is one of the darkest and most difficult. What prompted you to choose Job as your subject in this book?
Lynn: When I was 19 I was very ill with allergies and chemical intolerances. One night after a bout of vomiting, I sat on the floor between the toilet and the tub and asked God why? Almost as clear as an audible voice I heard Him say, read Job.
I did as He said and was truly blessed. God is in control. He loves me, and the more I read Job, the more I appreciate this. Of late, I see Him reminding me that He'll do anything to ensure my close relationship with Him...even allow hardships into my life.
There are many wonderful verses in the Bible that testify to God's provision in trials. I look at Paul's life, and I see someone who chose to suffer like Jesus and rejoiced in that suffering because it drew him closer to his Saviour. Paul wanted that for his disciples. Here's what he wrote to the church in Colosse:
"For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and long suffering;" Col 1:9-11
Paul didn't pray for them to not suffer. He didn't pray that they'd gain wealth or physical health or escape hardships. Instead, this man who knew great sufferings, prayed what he discovered was of far greater value than worldly possession, the knowledge of God.
Just like Job, who said when his ordeal was over, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee." Job 42:5
We know that Job was a Godly man who feared the Lord. He even had all the pat answers to trials, but when it was over, he realized what he thought he knew of God, he didn't. When he repented of his assumptions, God blessed the latter end of Job's life more than his beginnings. Is that an awesome and merciful God?
In my own life each trial has deepened my understanding and love of God. I would not want to substitute that knowledge for pain-free living. I'm glad He thunks me on the head now and again to remind me that I don't know everything there is to know about Him. And each time I discover a new depth of His love and abundant mercies.
Alice: How did you decide on the time and place for Joab's Fire? (BTW, I love your descriptions of the prairies.)
Lynn: Writing teachers often say to write what you know. I know the prairies, love history, and am particularly proud of my Albertan heritage. I loved reading my grandparents memoirs and my sister gave me a book consisting of diary excerpts from NWMP officers in their early years.
All these played a part in my decision to set Joab's Fire in the area where I grew up, drawing upon my own heritage. While Arrowwood didn't exist at the time that the story occurs, I put my fictitious town in the same area and made Joab Black's farm a place my dad once lived as a boy. As a child, I used to play in the old buildings and dreamed up all sorts of stories to suit the setting.
Alice: You have some book signings coming up. Could you give us the details of where and when?
Lynn: I will be at:
The Vulcan Library, Vulcan Alberta June 29, 2011 at 11:00 AM.
The Arrowwood Library, Arrowwood, Alberta June 29, 2011 at 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
The Strathmore Library June 30, 2011 from 5:00-7:00 PM
Alice: Anything else you'd like to add?
Lynn: The publisher has changed the release date for Joab's Fire to September 15. However, you can purchased an early signed copy from me on my website at: http://www.PresentingBiblicalTruths.com. After you have read the book, please leave a comment on the website. I love to hear from my readers.
Alice: Thanks Lynn, I wish you all success with Joab's Fire. And, for one lucky reader, Lynn is doing a giveaway. Just leave a comment and your e-addy spelled out to be entered in a draw for Joab’s Fire. Lynn has agreed to ship anywhere in the world, so don't be shy. Void where prohibited by law.
As a Canadian, I enjoyed the opportunity to read a work set in my own country. We've had some discussion here about the joys and sorrows of reading "home" stories or those from "away." Those from away are fascinating and stretch our minds to places and cultures we would never know. Those from home have a special resonance -- we get all the subtext. I encourage anyone to read Joab's Fire, whatever your background.
For more about me, go to my website: www.alicevaldal.com