Through numerous novels, Elie Wiesel has proven himself to be a master storyteller. He is able to intermingle the fictional world with the all too real memories of the Holocaust that haunt almost every piece of writing he produces. While "The Judges" has an intriguing premise, it is not among his better works.
When a plane en route to Tel Aviv is forced down by a snow storm, five random passengers find themselves offered refuge in a nearby house. What at first appears to be a safe haven quickly turns into a nightmare when the host, who simply refers to himself as the Judge, tells them of the 'game' at hand. All five of those present will be judged and the one who is the least worthy among them must pay the ultimate sacrifice. The five strangers have trouble believing the Judge at first, simply thinking his pronouncement a farce, but when they discover that they are locked within the room, they quickly realize the seriousness of their predicament. They must try to work together to fight their way out, or decide who should be the sacrificial lamb for the others.
"The Judges" has many characteristics that trademark a Wiesel novel. There is the shift in narrative between various characters, and between past and present times. Yet unlike his other works, the narratives here have little cohesiveness - there is no thread that ties them all together and even though the five characters are forced to spend one night together under one roof, that is all that unites them. There may be commonalities among their pasts and their reasons for wishing to remain alive, but beyond that, this story is about disconnect. The ending is far too rushed for the story that is offered and the conclusion to the host's 'game' is trite and predictable. With that being said, "The Judges" is still a fine read, thanks in large part to Wiesel's intellect and his poetic use of language.