God's rescue of the Jews through the courage of Queen Esther comes to vivid life in Angela Hunt's Esther: Royal Beauty. When an ambitious tyrant threatens genocide against the Jews, an inexperienced 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.
In recent years, Queen Esther has been a popular subject for books and films. Some have been great (Jim Baumgardner's Esther Queen of Persia), others not so much (the film One Night with the King). Angela Hunt's Esther stands out from the other things I've read an seen about Esther because it focuses not only on Esther's journey to becoming queen and her time in the palace but also on the events preceding the king's search for a new queen.
Esther is told from two points of view: Hadassah's and Harbonah's. Harbonah is the king's most trusted eunuch, and the insight into the king and the Persian government that his chapters give richly enhances the story.
Angela Hunt clearly did her research (there's a list of sources at the back of the novel, as well as a note from Hunt that explains her process), and the result is an incredibly compelling account of this biblical heroine.
The beginning of the book didn't grab my attention in the way I'd hoped, and I found myself not liking young Hadassah at all. However, the Harbonah chapters kept me engaged, and by the time Hadassah found herself being prepared for a night with the king, I was completely hooked. I also appreciated how Hadassah grew throughout the novel—from a young, selfish teen to a queen who realized she was a part of something greater than herself.
I expected Esther to be mainly about Haman's plot to kill the Jews and God's rescue of His people. While that part is there (of course), this novel covers so much more than that, and I think it's so much richer and more realistic because of all the details. 4 stars. Buy the book. Read my reviews of Hunt's The Offering(4-1/2 stars), The Fine Art of Insincerity (5 stars), Five Miles South of Peculiar (4-1/2 stars), and The Golden Cross(5 stars). With nearly five million copies of her books sold worldwide, Angela Hunt is the New York Times bestselling author ofThe Tale of Three Trees, The Note, and The Nativity Story. Angela's novels have won or been nominated for several prestigious industry awards, including the RITA Award, the Christy Award, the ECPA Christian Book Award, and the HOLT Medallion Award. Romantic Times Book Club presented Angela with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006. In 2008, she completed her doctorate in Biblical Studies and is currently completing her Th.D. Angela and her husband live in Florida, along with their mastiffs. She can be found online at www.angelahuntbooks.com.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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