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Friday, August 20, 2010

Song of Redemption by Lynn Austin

Now that King Hezekiah of Judah has decided in his heart to follow Yahweh and to return Judah to His favor, he has completely ceased paying tribute to the pagan superpower Assyria that his foolish father Ahaz enslaved Judah to. But rebelling in such a fashion has ignited Assyria's anger toward him and has invited trouble upon Israel. Yet the rabbi-prophet Isaiah warns them not to make an alliance with another nation, but to instead make an alliance with Yahweh and wait on them to save Judah from disaster. Eliakim son of Hilkiah agrees with Isaiah and urges Hezekiah to trust Yahweh, yet the Egyptian Shebna is skeptical about their unseen God. Assyria has already ravaged their sister nation Israel and taken many captives, and Judah can only be next. While in the crosshairs of destruction, will Hezekiah heed Isaiah's wisdom and wait for the Lord?
Song of Redemption is neither better nor worse than Gods and Kings because Lynn Austin has changed nothing about her writing style, character development, and plot development. When one is paraphraising a Biblical account in fiction, the best way to do so is the make it one's own by ading as many original outside elements to the surroundings as possible, as well as keeping accurate with Biblical and historical accounts. Lynn has juggled these requirements around and has produced two formidible novels. However, with Lynn Austin, it's always the little things that get in her way.
Hezekiah is not the character he could have been. While he is imperfect, he has no personality, even though the Biblical account clearly shows his personality. This fact is true for Isaiah and several other characters. Eliakim and Shebna, on the other hand, are both good characters with personalities. This inconsistency with characters is puzzling. Lynn uses a particular Assyrian as a Ted Dekker-like serial killer villain, which is an interesting touch. Hephzibah continues to be an ambiguous character. Basically, the character department is the main thing that keeps this book from being five stars.
There are two key character deaths that come as results of interesting situations. A romantic subplot is introduced for Eliakim, but it is as realistic as it could be. Hephzibah's small subplot is one of the more interesting parts of the book. Lynn Austin showed that she was not afraid to add her own original elements to make this book more interesting all while keeping true to the Biblical account and historical proof. The plot is as good as it could be because Lynn went to extra lengths to make it her own.
If Lynn will cut down on silly mistakes that keep her from five stars every time, she could be the best author on the market. Perhaps she will finally break out of her four point five shell soon.
4.5 stars

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