Sunday, March 23, 2014

Book Review: The Queen's Handmaid

A few months ago, I reviewed City on Fire, a well-written book by Tracy L. Higley about the ancient volcanic eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in Pompeii. I was excited to find out that Ms. Higley was releasing a new book, The Queen's Handmaid.

In this book, we meet young Lydia, an orphaned servant in the palace of Cleopatra in Alexandria, Egypt. As the book begins, we meet Samuel, the elderly father figure that has mentored Lydia in the ways of his Jewish heritage. Samuel has something important to tell Lydia about her past and future, but is attacked and killed before he can share the whole truth. As Samuel lays dying, he gives Lydia some secret scrolls with orders to take them to Jerusalem, to the Chakkiym, or wise-men, who are waiting expectantly for the Messiah.

Lydia leaves the palace of the jealous and conniving Cleopatra with Herod, to become the handmaid, or servant, for Herod's wife Mariamme. Lydia travels to Judea (Israel), with the scrolls well hidden, always searching for the elusive Chakkiym. Throughout the book, Lydia learns about her worth in the One True God, despite her past and unknown lineage.

As a historian myself, (or at least someone who spent four years of her life studying it), I was very impressed with Ms. Higley's attention to historical accuracy and detail. The story was well-written, and the descriptive language in the text made you feel that you were actually a character in the story.

I had several little complaints about the book, despite the excellent storytelling quality and the well researched historical aspect. For one, the book spans about 10 years. I finished one chapter, and partway into the next chapter I found out Lydia had aged 5 years. It would have been very helpful to put a date and a location at the beginning of each chapter where such a jump was made. I was a little confused at the timeline. Also, while I know that the dictators who ruled in the time of Ancient Rome were cruel and power hungry, the book got a little depressing with all the death that permeated the character's lives. I know that many characters were actually built on historical figures, so I should probably blame the history books more than the story itself, but the book seemed a little harsh at times.

Overall, however, I enjoyed this book as a well-written work of historical fiction, and I managed to glean a lot about the culture and the social-political environment of Judea as a Roman province.  

Bottom Line: 7.5/10*

*Thank you to the publisher and BookLook for my complimentary copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

Read my other Book Reviews Here

No comments:

Post a Comment

What do you think? I love hearing from my readers!

Popular Posts