Publisher: Tim Duggan Books
Published Date: June 14th 2016
Genre: WWII, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Adult
Page Count: 432
What if an empire of Jewish warriors that really existed in the Middle Ages had never fallen—and was the only thing standing between Hitler and his conquest of Russia?
Eastern Europe, August 1942. The Khazar kaganate, an isolated nation of Turkic warrior Jews, lies between the Pontus Euxinus (the Black Sea) and the Khazar Sea (the Caspian). It also happens to lie between a belligerent nation to the west that the Khazars call Germania—and a city the rest of the world calls Stalingrad.
After years of Jewish refugees streaming across the border from Europa, fleeing the war, Germania launches its siege of Khazaria. Only Esther, the daughter of the nation’s chief policy adviser, sees the ominous implications of Germania's disregard for Jewish lives. Only she realizes that this isn’t just another war but an existential threat. After witnessing the enemy warplanes’ first foray into sovereign Khazar territory, Esther knows she must fight for her country. But as the elder daughter in a traditional home, her urgent question is how.
Before daybreak one fateful morning, she embarks on a perilous journey across the open steppe. She seeks a fabled village of Kabbalists who may hold the key to her destiny: their rumored ability to change her into a man so that she may convince her entire nation to join in the fight for its very existence against an enemy like none Khazaria has ever faced before.
The Book of Esther is a profound saga of war, technology, mysticism, power, and faith. This novel—simultaneously a steampunk Joan of Arc and a genre-bending tale of a counterfactual Jewish state by a writer who invents worlds “out of Calvino or Borges” (The New Yorker)—is a stunning achievement. Reminiscent of Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union and Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America, The Book of Esther reaffirms Barton’s place as one of her generation’s most gifted storytellers.
“I am Esther, and like my namesake before me, I will save the Jewish people.”
Esther is a young woman who is to be married to the Rabi’s son in two months’ time. But that might not happen due to German’s threatening to invade their home land. When Esther’s father refuses her offer to fight she runs off with her adoptive brother Itkah in search of the Kabbalists who are said to have powers that might be able to help her.
Along this journey Esther stars wondering if she really wants to be, what she is going to ask the Kabbalists to do to her. She also wonders if it can even be done. The more exciting things that happen along the way are the people she runs into and what she also has to end up killing to make it to the Kabbalists village alive.
Once they reach the village and her and Itkah see things that thought were only stories and weren’t actually real. As she gets to know the Kabbalists though and they and these creatures welcome them. They ask them if they can do what needs to be done to Esther to make her be able to fight. When they give the answer though Esther is heartbroken and Amit a Kabbalists comforts her and lets her in on a secret that no one else must know.
When it’s time to leave the village and go back in order to help fight the Germans with the creatures the Kabbalists had made. Esther doesn’t have an easy road ahead of her as the commander of a small army, with the hope to get more volunteers as they go back to her home.
I really loved this story. Esther is extremely strong character who also has flaws, and is scared of what might happened to everyone she loves. Because of this she seems all the more real, and a likeable character. Esther has to make deals, and decision that aren’t left normally to woman to make. But she makes them with good intentions and does pretty well at it in my opinion. Yes she makes a few mistakes along the way and tells things she shouldn’t. But she is truly sorry for the mistakes and feels bad about them. She always though is thinking about how to save her homeland and tries to stick as close as possible to laws that she has always been taught to follow. When she has to go not only go up against her father but the Bek as well, she stands her ground and when they try to stop her she finds a way around them, in order to lead her army into battle.
If you like Historical Fiction, mixed in with religion then please read this book, it will not disappoint.
“Appoint her the head of her own army. Let her join you in battle. Let her sweep up any able-bodied sons that remain to our families, highborn as well as low. Daughters to. “