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Friday, July 16, 2010

Gods and Kings by Lynn Austin

As a young boy, Prince Hezekiah first met Yahweh, the one true God, at the altar of the pagan god Molech, when his brother was sacrificed instead of him. All his growing up life, Hezekiah watched as his father, King Ahaz, led Judah down a path of destruction by closing the doors of the Lord's temple and rejecting Yahweh by worshipping all the false gods of the nation around them. Now King Ahaz is dead, and King Hezekiah has inherited a financial disaster because his father sold Judah to Assyria in return for a war alliance. Yet somewhere in Hezekiah's heart, Yahweh is calling him back to Himself, and calling Judah back to Himself. If only Hezekiah will listen to His call.

Gods and Kings

is the best work of Biblical fiction I have read for several reasons. One, Lynn Austin does not refrain from her norm of developing good characters like so many authors do when writing historical and Biblical fiction. Two, Lynn is not afraid to create extra biblical original plot elements to make the story interesting and unpredictable. Yet, once again, she makes a minor mistake that costs her the five star rating.

Hezekiah is one of the best characters in the novel, as all leads should be. The best aspect of his character is that he did not immediately begin making reforms once he was king because he was not born a perfect person. Lynn Austin portrayed this correctly. King Ahaz is all one can expect from him and accurate to the Biblical account. Hezekiah's mother and grandfather are good enough. The prophets Isaiah and Micah could have been better than they were. I wish authors would not portray prophets as perfect characters. The invented villain, Uriah, is one of the more interesting characters because he did not begin the plot as a villain. He gradually became a villain over time through the hardening of his heart and the watering down of his faith. This is the correct way to portray a villain if you're going to have one at all.

There is a romantic subplot introduced for Hezekiah, but it does not work out. This is to Lynn's favor because she had the creative licence to follow through with it. Lynn stayed true to the Biblical account of King Ahaz and was historically accurate on many other accounts. The only problem with the book is a cheesy showdown scene at the end between Hezekiah and Uriah. It did not end originally, but she could not have killed off Hezekiah and still stay Biblically sound. This shows that the showdown should have been avoided altogether. This really put a damper on the book because it was almost a perfect novel.

Nevertheless, Lynn Austin proved with this book that she can dabble into other genres besides historical America. Yet there always seems to be one small thing standing between Lynn Austin and the five star award. Perhaps she will fix this soon. All in all, she is better than other authors she is often listed with.

4.5 stars

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