Saturday, April 25, 2015

Book Review: Keepers of the Covenant

Synopsis:  Ezra, a Torah scholar, never expected to be chosen to lead his people.  He was content to live a quiet life of study, but all that changed with one decree from the king of Babylon.  Suddenly the Jewish exiles in the kingdom are facing annihilation, and Ezra's people are thrown into despair.  Why is God allowing this, and how will He rescue them?  In a surprising turn of events, the king makes a new decree that the Jews can defend themselves against their enemies, and God's people are miraculously saved.  Ezra, now a leader (though not by choice), finds himself living a very different life than the one he once had.  Together with his family, he leads many of the Jewish exiles back to their homeland, a number of years after the events of Purim.  He finds himself a leader in Jerusalem as well, and a somewhat unpopular voice for purity and holiness in the Jewish worship and following of God's laws.

My thoughts: I feel like it's difficult to give a good synopsis of Keepers of the Covenant in just a paragraph or so, because it is a BIG book with so many interwoven stories.  While Ezra is the main character, there are several other characters whose lives are followed through the book.  My personal favorite part was the story of Reuven, one of the exiles who traveled back to Jerusalem, and Amina, a lame young girl who was adopted into a Jewish family.  Their story touched me as I desired a happy ending for them!  This book also covers a number of years of Jewish history . . . and as always, Lynn Austin does a wonderful job bringing Biblical events to life.  I found it interesting that the book started with the events before and during Purim (the story of which is told in the book of Esther), but it focuses on Ezra, instead of Esther, as we might expect.  Esther is only mentioned very briefly in the book, and I liked seeing the story from a different angle--from the point of view of the Jewish exiles instead of Esther herself.

As in her preceding book, Return to Me, Austin does an excellent job of drawing the reader into the time and place of the story.  I know she has traveled to Israel to research her books, and it shows.  I've really enjoyed The Restoration Chronicles so far, and look forward to hopefully reviewing book 3 in the future!

Thanks to Bethany House for the free review copy of this book.  I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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