Friday, April 25, 2014

Esther Queen of Persia by Jim Baumgardner

Hadassah, the beautiful, Jewish teenager from the city of Susa in Persia, is taken by force to the palace of King Ahasuerus. His command to find the most beautiful virgins in his kingdom, and bring them to the house of women, has placed Hadassah under the supervision of Hegai, the king's custodian of women. Hegai and his servants, have one year to prepare each virgin for one night with the king. Although Hadassah was taken from her home by force, she refuses to become bitter. She accepts being called Esther, but inside remains always, Hadassah. She continually wonders why she is there, yet remains faithful to her God, and to her identity. It is years before the answer is revealed. Her people face annihilation, and it falls upon her shoulders to stop it. Her first thought is to shirk her duty, but Mordecai, her cousin, will not allow it. His words, '"Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"' brings her to her senses.

Unlike many of the novels written about Esther, this book seeks to remain true to the Biblical account, while supplying additional historical information from the time period 486-473 B.C. The book has a five page Introduction, which gives insight into some of the things found in the story. It has a page, listing the months of the Jewish sacred calendar and the corresponding month of our modern calendar. Also in the back of the book is a listing of Scriptures mentioned in each chapter, along with a listing of works consulted in research for Esther Queen of Persia.  (info furnished  by author)

My Review: This book is one of the best ones I have read on the Biblical story of Esther. I often have mixed feelings when reading historical fiction, especially stories from the Bible, since too much leeway is often given. I felt like Baumgardner kept the story placed in the time frame in which it occurred rather than trying to portray the people in a manner that is more palatable to 21st century thinking. I also loved all of the historical research that went into the story to give it a richer understanding of what was happening at the time. I have never been as intrigued by the story of Esther as many seem to be, but Baumgardner breathed a new life into the story and caused these characters to become more real to me. It made a tremendous difference to know what was going on in the world at the time and the impact it had on the featured characters. The book also kept my attention and I looked forward to reading it. I admit that the cover did not make it appealing (although the model for Esther is beautiful), but in many ways it did sum up the simplistic beauty that is Esther. I will recommend  Esther Queen of Persia: A Courageous Woman for a Dangerous Time to others who enjoy Christian historical fiction.

 Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.

 Author Bio: Born in Wichita, Kansas, Jim Baumgardner, raised by Christian parents, gave his life to Christ in 1957. The author continues to reside in Wichita with his wife Linda. They have three children and nine grandchildren. Jim has seven published books. Four are known as the Sarah books, which tell of the adventures of a girl named Sarah, set in the 19thCentury. The other three are Bible novels, including the author’s latest release Esther Queen of Persia. All of Jim’s books are primarily written for his grandchildren’s benefit.

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