Bethlehem's Brothers

Fiction - Action
324 Pages
Reviewed on 03/24/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Bethlehem’s Brothers is a work of fiction in the action and historical genres and was penned by author Ronald Hera. The first novel in the Brothers Series, this compelling tale is set during biblical times in the earliest era of Christianity. The story centers around the titular brothers as they grow up in a time of deep unrest, battling conflict from an early age and struggling to understand where the solution to peace may come from. When the brothers meet a figure who offers that solution, they must decide whether to trust this new and enigmatic stranger and, in turn, challenge everything about the society they know in the process.

Author Ronald Hera brings a mysterious time in history to life through atmospheric writing and extensive research. It’s clear even from the opening pages that Hera has done this investigative work, bringing little details and big picture cinema descriptions together to fully flesh out the scenes in which his actors take their places. Whether you’re a Christian or not, the biblical setting comes to life and is fully explained, whilst the brothers weave in and out of its complexities and discover the verge of a new social, cultural and religious revolution. One of the things I liked the most about this tale was the fact that it felt relatable to modern-day humanity because the brothers face the same crises and dangers that many developing countries still do now. Overall, Bethlehem’s Brothers is a highly compelling and recommended read for one and all.

Darryl Greer

Bethlehem’s Brothers by author Ronald Hera is the first of a trilogy which he calls The Brothers Series. It is set in the Holy Land in the first century AD and, as its title suggests, revolves around two brothers, Simeon and Enoch, who hail from Bethlehem. The story opens with a gory scene when their family is blighted by Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents – unsurprisingly, it has a devastating effect on the lives of the boys and their mother. Later, the brothers go their separate ways and, as the story unfolds, we see their daily lives set against turbulent times that Christians and Jews will know so well. The brothers are as different as night and day. Enoch searches for a savior who will rid his country of the Roman occupation; Simeon is more interested in improving his life, becomes apprenticed to a former rabbi and learns his trade as a potter in Jerusalem. The brothers cross paths in later life with a most unusual character, a man from Nazareth who turns their world upside down. Will he be Enoch’s savior, lead the Jews to revolt and overthrow the Romans? Or will he be Simeon’s messiah, a man of peace?

It is impossible to write a story like this without a profound knowledge of biblical events depicted in the New Testament as well as their historical and geographical background. In Bethlehem’s Brothers, Ronald Hera has done well to combine these elements to create a historical thriller. There is never a boring moment throughout as history and imagination combine to hold the reader’s interest. The fictional characters are well rounded and believable and it is particularly gratifying to see how the Roman characters, even soldiers, are depicted as being human rather than the ogres Hollywood would have us believe they all were. Bethlehem’s Brothers is a fascinating insight into what life must have been like for the first-century inhabitants of Jerusalem, Capernaum, Bethlehem and other towns and cities from biblical times that we know so well.

Trudi LoPreto

Bethlehem’s Brothers by Ronald Hera is the story of two brothers and the very different lives that they are forced to follow. When Herod gives the order to kill all male children under two years old, it changes the lives of two small boys and their mother forever. When Roman soldiers kill Esther’s husband, it is up to her to take care of their two sons, nine-year-old Simeon and six-year-old Enoch, on her own. Esther soon is faced with sending Simeon to become a potter in Jerusalem with Thomas, the former Rabbi. Esther takes Enoch to Galilee where he will learn to be a fisherman with her brother-in-law, Lamech. The two brothers have to deal with very different situations and each does what he must to survive.

Bethlehem’s Brothers by Ronald Hera is a mixture of biblical facts and fictional characters that is hard to put down. It is the first century AD and Romans, zealots, and Jews are all present. Jesus’ journey has just begun and there is much controversy as to who he really is – Man, Prophet or Messiah. The politics of the day are not in agreement with religious beliefs and this creates a daily strain on all. I found Bethlehem’s Brothers to contain accurate biblical facts but also combining these facts with fictional characters, painting a picture of what very possibly was happening during this historic time. I am anxiously awaiting more books in this series. Bethlehem’s Brothers has something for everyone – history, suspense, action, politics, religion, both real and fictional characters – it is a five-star book.

Jamie Michele

Bethlehem's Brothers by Ronald Hera is a historical fiction tale set amongst first-century Christians, following the lives of two brothers who survive the Massacre of the Innocents according to the Gospel of Matthew. Fatherless and left alone with their now widowed mother Esther, she makes the decision to send the boys away; Simeon to work and learn a potter's trade in Jerusalem, and Enoch to his paternal uncle, a fisherman in Galilee. The narrative moves between the points of view of the two sons of Esther and Jacob as they grow up, as well as others who are bound to the chronology and story of Jesus Christ, the central figure in a story that offers a fictional peek into one of the most consequential stories of all time.

Bethlehem's Brothers by Ronald Hera creates an interesting construct of biblical history, diving deeper into the lives of those who walked the earth at the same time as Jesus Christ, whether it was alongside Him and His word, in His shadow as an everyday civilian of the time, or in search of Him for salvation or destruction. The story itself is good, with the right bone structure to forge the trilogy Hera is building. My favorite character was Marcus, a Roman in the sphere of Pontius Pilate, who through his point of view gives a reader access to the height of Roman politics. I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy historical and biblical fiction, and who aren't afraid of the grittier, more violent and human aspects of first-century Christianity.