An ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews in ancient Persia, so an inexperienced beautiful young queen must take a stand for her people.
When Xerxes, king of Persia, issues a call for beautiful young women, Hadassah, a Jewish orphan living in Susa, is forcibly taken to the palace of the pagan ruler. After months of preparation, the girl known to the Persians as Esther wins the king’s heart and a queen’s crown. But because her situation is uncertain, she keeps her ethnic identity a secret until she learns that an evil and ambitious man has won the king’s permission to exterminate all Jews–young and old, powerful and helpless. Purposely violating an ancient Persian law, she risks her life in order to save her people…and bind her husband’s heart.
Esther marks bestselling author Angela Hunt’s return to biblical fiction. In each novel she explores an example of a Hebrew Old Testament tob woman: a woman whose physical beauty influences those around her–and can change the course of history.
If there is one thing I’ve always been steadfast about with my views on religion, it has been that I have always maintained a deep interest and appreciation for the stories of the bible. Part of this stems from my love of history and part from my love of stories and story telling. In fact, one of my favorite books as a child was my children’s bible story book because I was in awe of the tales that were within.
Though I could not actively recall a ton of details from Esther’s story, beforehand, she is one of the biblical figures I could recall easily from my childhood. So when I discovered the Dangerous Beauty series, I couldn’t resist reading (or in this case, listening because they only had the audiobook) her story. Since I did listen to the audiobook, I do feel I should express my opinion on the voices that were used to create it. I’m all for using a voice that is clear and concise when it comes to audiobooks, but I also feel that the best audiobooks have voices that correlate well with the main characters or at least the story at hand. As there are two main points of view throughout this book, that of Hadassah (Esther) and Harbonah, there were also two voices throughout it. My biggest qualm with this audiobook was the choice for Hadassah. While the woman had a pleasant enough tone, it was far too Americanized and young for such a serious biblical figure. Though Hadassah is young, there’s no need for her to be once removed from being portrayed by a valley girl.
As for the story itself, I really enjoyed the tale and didn’t find that I had any problems with the liberties the author took in regards to the characters as well as the story itself. From what I can recall, she remained true to the story at the core, but she also made sure to elaborate on it so as to give a full account of what could have possibly transpired during this time. I didn’t mind that she made Hadassah a silly girl who daydreamed about marrying a prince. I feel that too often, people equate biblical characters as being holy righteous or completely evil. But in truth, these were people and I feel it was probably common for young girls to have these kinds of feelings and to not truly understand their heritage and their beliefs. Eventually, we grow into the people we are going to become and I feel the author did a good job at allowing Hadassah the opportunity to show true growth and maturity throughout this tale. If anything, I feel she made her more realistic.
I did see reviews that complained that there wasn’t more of a romance between Xerxes and Esther. I have to say, I don’t feel like that should have been an issue with this book. After all, Xerxes is a man with a great harem and Esther is only made queen while Xerxes “auditions” dozens upon dozens of beautiful women for the role. This doesn’t scream romance and I felt the book’s portrayal of Esther’s feelings on the matter were probably more on the mark than if she had claimed an undying love for the King.
As a whole, I felt this was an extremely intriguing tale and I thought it was a great twist on this biblical figure’s life. It’s definitely made it to where I will continue to read more from this author and perhaps I will even look into more biblical/historical fiction novels.
Esther is one of my very favorite Biblical stories – such drama! 🙂 This book is still on my TBR list … I really need an extra month just set aside for nothing but reading lol