The land of Shavron is a nice place, seemingly favored by God. But, because of its location, it has found itself in the middle when its neighbors go to war. Many, many years ago, the Holy One appointed three Judges to rule over the people of Shavron. The current Judges are Gideon, the judge of battle; Deborah, the judge of instruction; and Samson, the judge of commerce.
This is a time of fear and uncertainty in Shavron. The neighboring lands are being menaced by the black leopards of Chetz. The only way to prevent a Chetzian attack on Shavron is to appoint a king, or other ruler, of Shavron; then, the Chetzians will leave them alone. Gideon, a rabbit, is totally against the idea, because it would mean abandoning the Holy One. He, and Deborah, a cheetah, try to convince Samson, a wolf, to join them before the Council to change their minds. Samson refuses, not convinced of the seriousness of the situation.
Gideon and Deborah return to Eldos, the capital, to find that a queen has already been chosen by the Council, a red fox named Jezerah. Along with Iya, the power behind the throne, she turns Shavron into a dictatorship. High taxes are imposed, repression is increased; the usual. The Holy One knows what’s going on; He tells Gideon that He will never abandon Shavron, and that things will get worse before they get better.
Gideon spends the next couple of years in an impregnable mountain top prison; Samson and Deborah are similarly mistreated. Under such circumstances, it would be easy for anyone to lose their faith, but that does not happen to Gideon.
I was very prepared to not like this book (religion and talking animals usually do not bode well), but it’s pretty good. It’s not just a good religion story, it’s also a good fantasy story.
The Judges Chronicles: Rebirth of Shavron, Ivan Sugarwood, 2006, ISBN 1600342752