After what felt like reading books and book and books I didn't enjoy for reviews, finally, I was given one I truly have enjoyed.
Overview Without Spoilers
Maviah was born into shame - at least according to the standards of her time and culture of Israel in 30 AD. After her son is killed and her father is captured in an attack on her kingdom, Maviah is sent to King Herod to plead on behalf of herself and her father. She is joined by Judah and Saba who are there to protect and guide her journey through the dessert. Yet, along the way Maviah finds much more than she had originally thought.
Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Faith Worlds/Center Street
Release Date: October 28, 2014 TODAY!
Received Book From: NetGalley.com in exchange for an honest review
AD 30 was a much different book of Dekker's than I have read before. The other two books by him I have read were contemporary thrillers, this one is historical fiction. Although, this does not mean there aren't adventures and plot twists all through AD 30. Political intrigue, wars, battle, revenge, murder plots, this book is not lacking in the excitement category by any means. All in the midst of this, is the characters learning and hearing more and more about the mystic called Yeshua. I loved his use of the name Yeshua, vs. Jesus. It helped to make him become more alive instead of my own preconceived notions about who I think Jesus is. Reading Yeshua helped to see him in a more unbiased way. It is also more historically correct. What was also interesting was how Yeshua himself was only in a handful of scenes. You would think a novel about people learning about Yeshua in his time would center around him, but it didn't at all. Yet, his impact was still felt through the whole novel.
Maviah was strong, cunning, but sympathetic. As you read, you see how much suffering has been in her life which makes her sympathetic and your heart breaks for her. But she's not a character to throw herself a pity party to the point where you want to roll your eyes and think "let's move on already."
Judah at first almost seemed too good to be true - which I think Maviah felt the same way. But as I read about his warrior spirit and his way of almost being obsessive about things, it made me be turned off to him a little. But I liked that because it showed he wasn't a perfect person. Also, he's the relative of one of the magi who had visited Yeshua as a young child which is pretty awesome.
Saba was intriguing. He was strong, level headed, and mysterious. But I would have liked to have gotten to know him better. I'm hoping in the next book we learn more about him.
Phasa was King Herod's wife and became a close friend (if not a sister) to Maviah. She was so fun! She loved her jewels, was a spoiled brat, and treated Maviah like a queen. Yet she had her own inner strength as well.
One thing I want to note about the characters which I loved: they were ethnically diverse and correct. As in Yeshua was Jewish, the characters were Arabian and Palenstinian, and one was even (gasp!) black! Having Biblical type characters who aren't WHITE? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS????
Depending on your religion, denomination, personal beliefs, etc. you'll have your own thoughts about the theology expressed in this novel, which is fine. Personally, I thought Dekker did a great job. What's awesome about him is that he can talk about intense and deep theological issues in the story without being overly preachy. Christians and non-Christians alike can appreciate his novels. It's a wonderful balance very few authors have. I feel as though even Jesus (or Yeshua in this case) would appreciate this since he was a storyteller himself. Dekker even noted which of Yeshua's quotes were from the Bible (a majority of them were) and which elements of the story were simply interpretation. This is a major distinction we need to make when reading books such as this. The interpretations of scripture are simply what Dekker thinks- not Biblical truth.
The characters discuss Yeshua's teachings extensively. They ask questions we still ask today. For example: "He says to turn the other cheek, but what do you do when an injustice has been made? Do we just let them get away with it? That doesn't make sense." They even point our parts of his teachings which at times appear to be hypocritical and teaching against each other. What do you do with that?
Again, we just need to remember this is simply Dekker's own interpretations. He's contributing to an ongoing conversation.
In case you couldn't tell - I loved this book! At first I felt it was a little slow and I wasn't sure were it was going. But as I read it all came together to form a fantastic story. Which is what this was - a fantastic story. Yes, he talks about faith and Yeshua is a major part of the novel. However, Dekker knows how to tell a compelling story while still balancing faith. I cared about the characters, the plot twists and adventures kept me on my toes, and the theology discussions made me think.
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads.