The Old Testament book of Daniel comes to life in this novel for readers of Lynn Austin's Chronicles of the Kings series or Francine Rivers' Mark of the Lion series.
Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives. She thought she'd perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court. Now, as Daniel's wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she's safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear--until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar's palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall. The Persian Army invades, and Bellili's tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?
Ultimately, Yahweh's sovereign hand guides Jerusalem's captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.
Genre: Biblical Fiction
Publisher: Waterbrook Press
Goodreads Rating: 4.71 Stars
Why I Chose This Book
I am part of Mesu Andrew’s BFF Program so I was told about this book a few months before it came out. I was absolutely excited to read Mesu’s book because I always found the Book of Daniel interesting and inspiring.
First Initial Thoughts
When I first opened this book, there was 3 pages list of characters. I was like… oh boy. I have to remember all these people?! Sometimes, a story with a lot of characters can be overwhelming and a little confusing.
The beginning of the book we start off with the invasion of Jerusalem (how many times does this city get invaded?!). Abigail (later known as Belili) is taken prisoner and is made maid for Daniel and his best friends. During this time they become fast friends and are very close. But that was only for so long.
As the story progresses though we see Belili be taken again and eventually married to a man named Gadi. Before she became his wife, she was a high priestess. These are women who served in temples. During this time she was so ashamed of her life- and who wouldn’t blame her. Gadi is a good man. I actually did like him. He wasn’t mean or spiteful. They had a son together named Allamu, and he has an important role later on in the story.
I liked Daniel. He was so sweet, kind, and loyal to everyone he met, despite his status. He truly had so much faith in God, and that was very inspiring.
The last time I ever read a book about Babylon was The Odyssey back in High School. So it’s been a few years. I remember learning briefly about Babylon in my Archaeology classes but it wasn’t taught extensively. Mesu brings Babylon to life. It’s rich culture, traditions, and people were well researched and I felt like I was there right along with the characters. Also, fact of the day if you didn’t know. Babylon was once located in the present day Iraq - about a few miles south of Baghdad. I personally don’t know too much about that region so it was interesting to learn more about it.
Poor Belili. Mesu is a master at emotion in a book. I really felt Belili’s pain throughout this book. I won’t spoil anything but I just wanted to give her a big hug! She definitely went through some major and traumatic events in her life but she kept on going. I really admired her for that. She was so ashamed of her past as a Priestess that she was too blind to see the faith she had in God all along. I am sure some people in that circumstance wouldn’t be able to carry on afterward because of the shame.
I loved how Mesu wrote the two stories we learned as a child about Daniel. The first one being of the fireplace and God saving Daniel’s best friends from the fire. And the second being of Daniel in the Lion’s den. These stories are stories of faith and trust in God. Trusting in God when all things could go wrong.
Speaking of trust, Daniel was ever so faithful to God the entire story. I also think he helped Belili restore her faith and provide an example of true faith. I also really liked them together. The only thing I found kind of odd was that they both loved each other at the age of 10. I just found that kind of…interesting. I for one don’t think that one could really understand love at age 10 but it was a different time back then and many women were married off by the age of 14. However, in the story their love stands the test of time throughout the entire book- so that was reassuring.
Even though this book is only 400 pages, I felt like it was a long epic story. Some sections of the book dragged on a little too long but I think that was done on purpose to create a backstory and suspense. Even though there were a ton of characters, I didn’t feel like I forgot who each person was and how they were important to the story.
Would I Recommend?
Oh yes! Fans of the story of Daniel and the Lions will absolutely love a take on that story. Even though we learned about this story as a child, I would say this is the more adult version. It definitely has some violence so I would only suggest for ages 16+.
You can purchase the book —-> HERE
Have you read the Book of Daniel? If so, what were your thoughts?
Note: I was sent an ARC copy of this book to review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.