Thursday, October 23, 2014

Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin

Keepers of the Covenant is the second book in Lynn Austin's Biblical fiction series, The Restoration Chronicles. It covers events in the Old Testament books of Ezra and Nehemiah, in which the Jews in exile in Babylon are allowed to return to Jerusalem.

The story starts with the events described in the Book of Esther. The king, influenced by Haman, had decreed that the Jews would all be massacred on a set date. Later, he ruled that the Jews would be allowed to defend themselves. The ensuing battle was the basis for the Jewish festival of Purim, which is celebrated to this day.

The priest Ezra is a main character. A Torah scholar, he is chosen to be the spiritual leader of the Jews as they plan and execute their return. He petitions the king to allow the return and receives special favors and an appointment as governor of Jerusalem. Those who travel to Jerusalem with Ezra experience the challenges of being accepted by the Jews who returned from Babylon a few years earlier. Conflict also arises between the Jews and the other inhabitants who do not believe in the God of the Torah.

There's something of interest for everyone. There's action and excitement, a couple of love stories, conflict between characters---and between them and God. This dramatization of the events described in the Bible helped me to better understand the context and meaning. Austin is a master of historical fiction. She has a gift for making you feel like you're part of the story. She uses modern language in conversations so that dialog is not stilted. I have read Return to Me, the first book in this series, but I don't think you'd need to read it first to enjoy and benefit from this story. The characters and story lines are different.

I recommend reading this book (and the entire series) to anyone seeking to learn more about Old Testament history. Author Lynn Austin was a history teacher before she became a writer, so her research is impeccable. I can't wait until the final book comes out next year.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. 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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