Author: Rebecca Kanner
Genre: Biblical fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
A glittering Persian king has a vast empire that reaches farther than where the sun meets the horizon. He is bathed in riches and commands a frightening military force. He possesses power beyond any other mortal man and rules his kingdom as a god. Anything he desires, he has. Any woman he wants, he possesses. Thousands of them. Young virgins from all across his many lands.
A Jewish girl is ripped from her hut by the king’s brutish warriors and forced to march across blistering, scorched earth to the capitol city. Trapped for months in the splendid cage of the king’s palace, she must avoid the ire of the king’s concubines and eunuchs all while preparing for her one night with the king. Soon the fated night arrives, and she does everything in her power to captivate the king and become his queen.
But wearing the crown brings with it a new set of dangers. When a ruthless man plies the king’s ear with whispers of genocide, it is up to the young queen to prevent the extermination of the Jews. She must find the strength within to violate the king’s law, risk her life, and save her people.
This is a story of finding hidden depths of courage within one’s self. Of risking it all to stand up for what is right.
This is the story of Queen Esther.
I've read a lot of Esther stories. I would go as far as to say they're probably the most abundant Biblical retellings out there. There's just something about the story of Queen Esther. That said, they don't often surprise me or stray from the normal. There's a certain amount you expect, and they usually live up. However, I felt this one was totally different and unexpected.
I think what made this one completely different was how Esther was portrayed. And I will admit, at first it rubbed me the wrong way. We often see Esther portrayed as a meek, obedient little girl, who selflessly saved her people. But this story points out that meek and obedient would have never won her the title of queen in this time. At first, I didn't like Esther; she's power-hungry, arrogant, manipulative. But then I began to understand. It is more likely how she would have been, to attract the king, while keeping herself alive in a place that wanted her dead. She did act childish in some instances, but then you remember that she essentially was a child.
It is very important to me that stories like this are historically accurate, and this was impressively well-researched. I felt like it went more in depth with what happened between Esther arriving at the palace, and actually saving the Jews. In fact, that part was the very tail end, as the story focused more on her time in the palace. We got to see her interactions with the king, with the other women of the harem more in depth than I've seen before.
I do want to point out that there are a few sexual scenes in here, that go a bit farther than I think people expect from a Christian novel. Nothing explicit, obviously. Nothing that bothered me. But I did want to point it out in case you were the type to be bothered by it.
This also isn't the first retelling I've read that suggests Esther may have had a less favorable opinion or belief of God, and not the woman of super-strong faith that we assume she must have been. I think it's an interesting opinion, and makes room to explore faith and the Jewish religion and customs a little more.
All in all, I very much enjoyed this story. The reasons I disliked it in the beginning are the reasons that ended up making it one of my favorite Esther retellings. I think it was portrayed beautifully, both historically and Biblically. And I very much look forward to reading other stories by this author.
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