Monday, November 21, 2011

Book Review: A Reluctant Queen

Release Date: July 5, 2011
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Pages: 400 pages
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical
Source: Publisher through NetGalley
Goodreads Summary: An inspired re-imagining of the tale of Esther, a young Jewish woman thrust from a life of obscurity into a life of power, wealth, intrigue . . . and tender love.

See the story of Esther in an entirely new way-with all the political intrigue and tension you remember, but told as a passionate and tender love story between a young man and woman. Misunderstood by many, King Xerxes was a powerful but lonely man. Esther's beauty caught the eye of the young king, but it was her spirit that captured his heart.

Imagine anew the story of Esther, one of our faith's great heroines, destined to play a key role in the history of Christianity.
I’ve always been fascinated by the Biblical story of Esther, how an ordinary girl could rise up to become queen of Persia and save her people from genocide. While A Reluctant Queen mirrors the main highlights from the Biblical account, it is important to point out that this book is VERY loosely based on the biblical book of Esther.

In order to properly enjoy and review this book, I decided not to compare it to the real story in the Bible. Standing on its own, A Reluctant Queen is very romantic, hopeful and filled with political intrigue.

Esther is a beautiful girl of mixed heritage (her mother was Jewish while her father was Persian) living in Susa with her uncle Mordecai. Fearing a plot to annihilate the Jewish people, Esther, at the request of Mordecai and other Jewish leaders, goes undercover into the King of Persia’s harem and competes with other girls to become his wife.

Young and scared, Esther never expects to actually like the handsome King Ahasuerus and is even more shocked when he chooses her to be his queen after only meeting her once. Ahasuerus is gorgeous, smart, kind, noble and completely swoon worthy. In other words, he is a perfect leading man. What starts out as a physical attraction grows into an awesome love between these two. The characters are very well rounded, especially Esther and Haman (the villain of the story). I loved getting to know Esther and seeing how she worked through her fears to get to the point of knowing that she was going to save her people or die trying. The political storyline in the book is very interesting as well.

I liked A Reluctant Queen and I think readers who like Christian fiction and romance would enjoy it as well. Just keep in mind that it is a retelling and there are significant differences between the historical account of Queen Esther and this book. 

Content: Kissing, drinking, some violence and implied sex but nothing even remotely graphic. 

My Rating: Really Good!


Rebecca said...

I think this one definitely sounds interesting. I have to admit I've never seen it before, but I like the sound of it and am definitely intrigued. I'll have to take a closer look at it! :) Great review.

Kindle Fever

KM said...

Well, the book of Esther is a pretty short one in the Bible, so there's not all that much to go off of. But I find it so interesting that adaptations of it always make Xerxes really nice and all that jazz...except for the movie "300," in which case he is super scary. haha I saw something on the history channel about Xerxes and all he had to do growing up to become king and it was INTENSE! He had to fight a freakin lion by himself when he was like 12. Of course, the History channel people don't connect him to Esther since she's "just a mythological character," but I find the connection fascinating. It's a totally different side to him than what we see in the Scriptures!

Truly Bookish said...

KM, this is a part of the significant difference I mentioned in my review. Unlike in Scripture, Esther marries King Ahasuerus, Xerxes’ older (and fictional) brother. The character of Xerses is in the book as well but he is portrayed as more of a prideful, sullen warmonger (which is probably closer to the historical Xerxes). At the end of the book, the author admits to creating the character of Ahasuerus so the book would have a likable leading man.

Asheley (@BookwormAsheley) said...

Oh wow, Esther is one of my absolute favorites, and like so many others I seek out books about her when I can. I have this one and haven't read it yet.

While I don't mind a retelling, and I don't mind it being loosely based on Esther's real story, I'm glad you mentioned this.

I can't wait to read it. And I think the cover is beautiful! Thanks for the review. :)

Ashley Prince said...

Esther is my absolute favorite! I was her for Halloween one year. I definitely will be looking into this one.

Wow, I'm so excited!

Alexis @ Reflections of a Bookaholic said...

That is a very interesting thing for the author to do (changing her husband). I'm quite intrigued. Great review.


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