This week I've got two reviews and giveaways going on, so be sure to click back over here Wednesday, as well!
The first is Roseanna White's newest release, Jewel of Persia. I got lost in the story of Xerxes, his Jewess concubine Kasia, and Kasia's best friend, Esther. Yes, that Esther. I love how biblical fiction writers see fictional ways to bring the Scriptures to life for us!
I had told Roseanna after reading her first book, A Stray Drop of Blood, that she could just put me down on her influencer list permanently. So glad I did!
Here's a blurb about the book from Roseanna's website:
How can she love the king of kings without forsaking her Lord of lords?
Kasia grew up in a poor Jewish home with more siblings than luxuries. But when a chance encounter forces her to the palace of Xerxes, she becomes a concubine to the richest man in the world. She alone, of all Xerxes' wives, loves the man beneath the crown. She alone, of all his wives, holds the heart of the king of kings.
Traveling with Xerxes through Europe as he mounts a war against Greece, Kasia knows enemies surround her, but they’re not the Spartans or Athenians. The threat lies with those close to the king who hate her people. She determines to put her trust in Jehovah–even if it costs her her marriage.
Years of prayers are answered when Kasia's childhood friend arrives at the palace after the war, but even as she determines to see Esther crowned in place of the bloodthirsty former queen, she knows the true battle is far from over. How far will her enemies go to see her undone?
Combining the biblical account of Esther with Herodotus's Histories, Jewel of Persia is the story of a love that nearly destroys an empire . . . and the friendship that saves a nation.
I mean, don't you just want to read it after reading that? This tale is so epic. Upon finishing the book, I immediately Googled Kasia's name alongside Xerxes just to see what I could find about them. (And no, I won't tell you what I discovered...you'll have to read it yourself.)
I appreciated the glimpse into Xerxes' world. What a responsibility the man had as ruler of all. The intrigue of the palace, the backstabbing of the harem, the raging politics of the day...he had to have a handle on all of it. The Book of Esther gives glimpses into Xerxes, and Roseanna's book no doubt gives breath to those words and helps the reader see how big of a deal events in Esther might be, such as:
"But when the attendants delivered the king’s command, Queen Vashti refused to come. Then the king became furious and burned with anger." (Esther 1:12)
As is customary, I want to touch on a therapeutic topic that pops up quite frequently: the relationship between husband and wife, or in Xerxes' case, husband and wives. I know that back in that time period, multiple wives wasn't that big of a deal. It was accepted, expected, and encouraged for political and economic reasons, especially. But even given this expectation, women weren't crafted together emotionally in a vastly different way back then from now, surely. They must have felt extreme jealousy when one wife was favored over another, must have felt discarded when they weren't called on to visit the king, must have angled to get him to cast them a look like a dog angles for scraps from a table...anything to feel worthwhile.
The reality of the situation Esther and Kasia both entered was harsh. They were young, too, considered women at the time, but still mere teens. With the Lord's help, of course, they manage the sheer awkwardness of loving the same man, being married to the same man. They are far greater women that I would be, I'm afraid. Reading this book made me appreciate so very much that this is not the modus operandi for us anymore!
Roseanna has agreed to give one lucky commenter their choice of a either a .pdf now or paperback version of this book when they come out. Leave your email in a non-spam format, like this: character therapist (at) hotmail (dot) com. Followers of this blog will receive two entries, so be sure to click on the "Follow" button on the right! A winner from the lower 48 will be selected and posted on Saturday. Good luck!