Saturday, April 12, 2014

Book Review: Queen of Persia

***Esther Queen of Persia is a Foreword Reviews Journal Finalist
 for the 2013 Book of the Year Awards
 in the Religious Fiction category. *****

Esther Queen of Persia by: Jim Baumgardner

Hadassah, the beautiful, Jewish teenager from the city of Susa in Persia, is taken by force to the palace of King Ahasuerus. His command to find the most beautiful virgins in his kingdom, and bring them to the house of women, has placed Hadassah under the supervision of Hegai, the king's custodian of women. Hegai and his servants, have one year to prepare each virgin for one night with the king. Although Hadassah was taken from her home by force, she refuses to become bitter. She accepts being called Esther, but inside remains always, Hadassah. She continually wonders why she is there, yet remains faithful to her God, and to her identity. It is years before the answer is revealed. Her people face annihilation, and it falls upon her shoulders to stop it. Her first thought is to shirk her duty, but Mordecai, her cousin, will not allow it. His words, '"Who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"' brings her to her senses.

Unlike many of the novels written about Esther, this book seeks to remain true to the Biblical account, while supplying additional historical information from the time period 486-473 B.C. The book has a five page Introduction, which gives insight into some of the things found in the story. It has a page, listing the months of the Jewish sacred calendar and the corresponding month of our modern calendar. Also in the back of the book is a listing of Scriptures mentioned in each chapter, along with a listing of works consulted in research for Esther Queen of Persia.

My Review:   Lush with detail and a story line that flows well, Esther Queen of Persia is a beautifully written book that captivates the reader from the very first pages.  Jim Baumgardner's writing style is flawless.  This book is rich in biblical exploration and history and told in an easy to understand form.  It flows, it captivates, it tells a story you will not want to put down.  Each character is so beautifully portrayed that you feel as if you are walking in the times of this story, hearing them speak and living as they lived.  It's simply magnificent. 

Esther Queen of Persia is told from different points of view,  from Esther to Mordecai, her uncle (or cousin - that's a bit unclear)  She is told by Mordecai to hide her Jewish faith and her name is changed by the King's court from Hadassah to Esther.  She tells of her abduction and preparation to be married to the King and the relationships she develops along the way.  Her peaceful manner, character and beauty not only surprise all who meet her in her captivity, but they come to respect her.  She remains faithful to her faith in God despite being taken from her home and placed into a situation she didn't ask for.  She's dutiful, modest, kind, steadfast in her faith and the King is immediately smitten.  The author also tells us of the journey of her cousin from her homeland, Mordecai, who makes it his mission to find her and remind of her duty to her Jewish people. 

If you are not familiar with the passages of Esther biblically, you will by the time you close the covers of this book. Its' a wonderful adaptation of the story of Esther, her plit and her time married to a King who would do so much to make her as happy as she makes him.
It's a wonderful reminder in times of trial where faith stands strong and prevails.  One of THE finest books I've had the priviledge to read.

Disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.  

Reviewed by:  Kelly Santi

About the Author:


Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, Jim Baumgardner resides quite literally on the old Chisholm Trail that ran from the Red River, north through Indian Territory, to the cattle towns of Kansas. Wichita is one of the original cow towns of the old west, and Jim helps keep that history alive by volunteering at the Old Cowtown Museum in Wichita. His volunteer work extends both into schools and homeschool groups where he gives various programs on writing, the Underground Railroad, cowboys and trail drives, and early Wichita history.

Although Jim's roots sink deep into Kansas, his family's early beginnings were in Western Ohio where his great, great grandparents, John and Elizabeth were married in 1856. In 1879 their son, John Jr., left Ohio for the life of a Kansas ranch hand and cowboy. John Jr.'s son, James, after whom the author is named, followed the same course by working the land and raising cattle. Commenting on the Baumgardners Jim stated: "I'm proud of my German heritage and the work ethic passed on to me by my father and grandfathers. I come from a long line of storytellers, and it has always been fun trying to figure where the truth left off and the fiction began."

Around age ten Jim began writing poems and songs. After reading some of Jim's work, his father encouraged him to continue his writing. At nineteen he had his first article printed in a magazine. Forty years later at age fifty-nine his first novel, Sarah's Wish, was published.

Mr. Baumgardner continues to reside in Wichita where he loves to stroll the dusty streets of Old Cowtown. It is there he can walk back into the Nineteenth Century and for a short time catch a glimpse of life as experienced by his grandfathers. It becomes a time to remember his roots, glean new story ideas, and never forget the hard working pioneers who contributed so much to the making of America.

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