Star of Babylon by Bethany Wallace was a book I found in the Amazon freebie book section. The reason this book interested me was that it was Biblical Fiction. What I enjoy most about the Biblical Fiction genre is an author crafting a believable story of what could have happened. In the case of this book, I did not feel like that happened; in fact, it was more wishy-washy in nature. Our main protagonist in this story is Esther. Little is said in the Bible of her story beyond the big events. We know how Esther was chosen by the King to be his bride, how she kept her nationality a secret, and how she acted to save the Jews even at her own peril. What we do not know about Esther is who her friends were, how life might have been like in the Palace, was there intrigue? These are but a few examples of what authors have license to explore.
Wallace, with her portrayal of Esther, fails to live up to the potential of what this story could be. She leaves out details, introduces loose ends, and seems to be writing for more of a grade-school audience as opposed to a mature audience. Numerous times in the book we have Esther saying things or acting in ways that would get her in trouble. There’s a difference between acting boldly and acting disrespectfully. Also, this Esther seems to have a ‘magical touch’ and seems to get all the women in Xerxes’ court adoring her. Not only is that improbable, it also leaves out a possible plot-line about the political structure of the harem. Another deficiency of this book is that it fails to mention that any of the men inside of the harem would have for the most part been eunuchs, as was custom in that time. Esther’s nightly visits with her uncle Mordecai would not have happened, after all, he was only a MINOR court official. In this book we do not see the angst that Esther would have wrestled with, the stress that would be on her shoulders. We do not see the frustration of Xerxes who was unable to conquer Greece, the ramifications of palace intrigue, the assassination attempts, the rivalry between the children of concubines and that of Esther. All of this makes for a good story and was unfortunately left out of Star of Babylon.
This book does not even seem to stay in line with Biblical account. In Star of Babylon, when Esther found out from Mordecai the plot of Bigthan and Teresh, she ‘dealt’ with it herself without worrying the King. Not only would that have been a taboo in those days, it also differs from the Biblical account of what happened. Esther went to the King about what she’d found out, the report was investigated, and once it was found to be true, the two men were executed on poles. Even if the women in Babylon had power back in those days, no woman, Queen or not, would have kept a secret of such magnitude from her husband.
For young teens and grade-schoolers, this would be a passable book, after all, it is an easy read, even if not completely accurate. For individuals that would like to read a story with depth, I invite you to check out one of my favorite books about Esther by Trudy J. Morgan-Cole. Not only does this book immerse you in the historical period of the time, it also stays true to the Biblical account of Esther. It’s one of my favorite books and should provide a good read. For reasons outlined above, I can only give Star of Babylon 2/5 stars. I would not suggest this book to anyone; go read Trudy J. Morgan-Cole’s instead.
Unfortunately I read the other version of Esther before I started doing book reviews, I’ll try and get one up sometime soon in the near future on Trudy J. Morgan-Cole’s version. For now however, here’s a link to that story for you to check out! 🙂 http://www.amazon.com/Esther-A-Story-Courage-ebook/dp/B002RWJ6S6/ref=tmm_kin_title_0
To find my review on Amazon, go here: http://www.amazon.com/review/R16M0A3T9AYVMZ/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm