Keepers of the Covenant
In one life-changing moment, the lives of the Jewish exiles in Babylon are thrown into confusion and despair when a decree arrives from the king's palace in Susa. It calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, in less than one year. Ezra, a quiet Jewish scholar and teacher, is suddenly called upon to lead the community as they seek God for a reason for this catastrophe. When a second decree arrives, authorizing them to fight back, Ezra is thrust into the role of military leader as they defend themselves against their enemies.
When the battles come to an end, Ezra's brother Jude is dead and Ezra is required by the Law he so diligently studies to marry Jude's widow, Devorah, and provide an heir. Fatherhood changes Ezra, and he asks God to make a way for him and the other exiles to leave Babylon for good and return to Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and the exiles move to Judea to revitalize worship at the temple--but the fight to keep God's Law is never easy. As more and more of his community are tempted, a new battle emerges...this one for the survival of God's covenant and the souls of His chosen faithful.
It took me a few chapters to get into this book, but once I did, I enjoyed it. I liked how it was divided into several locations with several different points of view (my favorite was Amina's story) and I was also pleasantly surprised at how the book began with the story of Esther, which I wasn't expecting (I requested this book because I read that last one in the series; I hadn't looked at the back blurb)
Still, there were parts of this book that were hard for me to read, because almost every character had me disliking them at some point in the story. This is especially true in the scenes with Reuben, because he really needed some sense shaken into him! Also, because this book covers a really large period of time, some relationship issues seemed to be resolved really quickly. While in some instances I appreciated that some problems weren't dragged out, I at times felt the characters got lost in the pace of the story.
I actually liked this one a bit more than the last book in this series. It's not really a book I'd re-read, but it was certainly more than decent, and the fact that I didn't enjoy it as much as I'm sure many will is probably more because of my personal taste than anything else.
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.