This is one of those epic biblical-era works that puts me in mind of a James Michener saga. Alice Hoffman has chosen the rise and fall of Masada, a cliffside hideaway for Jews escaping the Romans (70 C.E.) as the fulcrum for leveraging her views on women, warriors, and religion. The Dovekeepers in his little community are all female, and their task is to keep the birds and their eggs safe and productive–an obvious parallel for the function of women in a warlike society like this.
We are also treated to insights into ancient female religions who have been clandestinely nurtured over the centuries. i hate to be so dismissive of a work that has involved such great research and inspired such dedication on the part of an obviously intelligent and talented writer. I also hate to mindlessly invoke ancient rules. However, “show don’t tell” is such an enormous problem here that it sank the book for me. That, and the multiplicity of characters. Meetings and conversations are described and described and described, but seldom actually dramatized, almost to the point where i wondered if I were reading a text book or a story.