Not only am I an author, I am also an avid reader. It is my hope to offer periodic book reviews to give you a glimpse at my bookshelf, and hopefully encourage you to pick up a good book. Most of what I read is from a Christian worldview, although I do read some secular books from time to time.
Song of Redemption, A Novel (Chronicles of the Kings Book 2)
By Lynn Austin
Published 2005 by Bethany House
Song of Redemption is the second book in Lynn Austin’s Chronicles of the Kings series. I read the first book of the series, Gods and Kings, last summer as a freebie on my Kindle Fire and really enjoyed it but never bothered to purchase the other books in the series. I just happened to run across Book 2 and Book 5 at a garage sale a few weeks ago, for .50 cents each, so couldn’t pass them up! So, I read this book in paperback format.
This series is a fictionalized account of the biblical kings of the Old Testament. In Gods and Kings, the wicked King Ahaz was the focus and how he led the kingdom of Judah into idolatry and sacrificed his sons in the fire of Molech. It ended with his death and his son, Hezekiah being crowned as king of Judah.
Song of Redemption takes up the story of King Hezekiah and his struggle to return Judah to the worship of the One true God and to remove idol worship from his kingdom. For the first half of the book, there are two parallel storylines. One is of King Hezekiah and his wife, Hephzibah, the growth of their relationship, their pain when they are unable to have a child, and Hezekiah’s efforts to restore godly worship in Jerusalem. The second storyline is of a young girl from Israel, Jerusha, and her capture by the Assyrians.
Though Ms Austin does not use any gory, graphic descriptions, the brutality of the Assyrians is chilling. Eventually, Jerusha’s Assyrian master “frees” her, as part of a game to track her down again. Jerusha is determined to live and return to her family, and she does make it home, with the Assyrians close on her heels. I will not say any more about that, because I wouldn’t want to ruin the story for you, but I can assure you it will have you on the edge of your seat!
The two storylines converge about half-way through the book, when Jerusha and her sister flee to Jerusalem, seeking safety from the Assyrians who have overrun Israel and are besieging Samaria. They are taken in by a kindly merchant whose son, Eliakim, is an engineer working for King Hezekiah, preparing Jerusalem’s defenses against an Assyrian siege. Eliakim is charged with creating a fresh water source for the walled city and much of the last third of the book focuses on his efforts to build a water tunnel from the fresh water spring into the city. Ms Austin does a masterful job of creating suspense as the Assyrian army draws closer to Jerusalem.
Since I love history, and also love reading the Bible, I really have enjoyed this series that brings the history of the ancient kings and kingdoms alive. Although it is a fictional account, Ms Austin has done her research well and does a wonderful job of weaving the ancient Scriptures in with the dialogue and plot. Each of the main characters faces their own crisis of faith and must learn to truly trust God in their situations.
If I had to nit-pick and find one negative, it would be with some of the dialogue, which was sometimes a bit unbelievable for the time period. For example, I seriously doubt that a queen’s maid would call the queen “honey”. There were several such lapses in the dialogue, but they were minor annoyances in the bigger picture of the overall story, which I found to be very good. There are threads of romance throughout the novel, but it is not the main focus. This novel combines the elements of a love story with history and suspense in a very satisfying way.
I will definitely be reading Book 3 – The Strength of His Hand.