The grander, the better. Old or new, doesn’t matter.
I loved Cecil B. DeMille’s Ten Commandments, and I love Mel Gibson in Braveheart. Give me an afternoon of Dances With Wolves, Gladiator, or Troy, and I’m as happy as a pig in the mud on a sunny day. Maybe even happier. 😀
Tracy Higley Thinks EPIC!
So, when I heard Tracy Higley’s new release, The Queen’s Handmaid, spanned the stories of Cleopatra, Marc Antony, and Herod the Great–skipping from Egypt to Rome to Judea–I was STOKED!
And the story did not disappoint…amazing.
I’ve read three other books written by Tracy, and I know her passion for research matches her appetite for travel. She’s actually BEEN to these places, walked these streets, sailed these waters. Somehow, knowing Tracy ventured to the locations makes her descriptions more palpable, more real–more breathtaking in scope, in grandeur, and in horror, when humans act inhumanely.
Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History, and her knowledge shines through the voice of a queen’s handmaid in this intricately woven tale.
From the servant halls of Cleopatra’s Egyptian palace to the courts of Herod the Great, Lydia will serve two queens to see prophecy fulfilled.
Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC
Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra’s palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm’s length. She’s been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life.
But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme.
Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.
☺☺☺☺ ½ (4 ½ out of 5)
One of the things I love most about writing (and reading) biblical novels is the freedom to widen Scripture’s lens to include the panorama of nations affecting Israel’s destiny. God’s Word tells us of His chosen people, but His-story (history) reveals how ancient civilizations affected God’s people according to His plan. Tracy Higley is a master at placing related biblical stories in an ancient historical era.
Through The Queen’s Handmaid, Tracy describes how Cleopatra, Marc Antony, and Caesar Octavian were instrumental in placing the first Herod on Jerusalem’s throne. She vividly described the political rivalries between Egypt and Rome, depicting Judea’s role as a pawn between them and Herod’s limited but rising power–thanks to his friend, Marc Antony. Two great empires, Egypt and Rome, used deceit and intrigue to further their agendas, but Yahweh’s plan prevails in spite of human corruption.
From the first page, Tracy gives us reasons to love Cleopatra’s spunky young handmaid, Lydia. The girl is an orphan, raised by the servants in Cleopatra’s palace, taken under the wing of an old Jewish man, Samuel, who has taught her of the Hebrew’s One God.
Lydia agrees to leave Cleopatra’s palace with Herod–to become handmaid to his betrothed, Mariamme–but first she must tell Samuel goodbye. Samuel charges Lydia with a single mission:
“Go to Jerusalem. Find the Chakkiym–a man waiting on the steps of the Temple, on the day of Yom HaKippurim, wearing a red-striped tallit with red and blue corded tassels.”
The Queen’s Handmaid leads us through the tragedies and triumphs of Lydia’s ten-year journey to deliver the scrolls of Daniel’s prophecy–scrolls that will predict the coming of Israel’s Messiah.
Lydia can only search out the Chakkiym one day a year–the other days, she serves Herod’s betrothed, who becomes his wife, Mariamme. Lydia and Mariamme seem different in every way–temperament, upbringing, and social status–yet their unconventional friendship is one of the sweetest parts of this story.
Lydia tries hard to guard against such attachments. She spends much of the book struggling to discover where she fits, who she is, and why she should ever trust anyone. A wise friend tells her:
“If you could see your value as the One God sees, you would find a solid foundation on which to build your life. On which to build love.”
Good advice for us all.
I’ve given this book 4 1/2 smiles instead of 5 because at times the names and relationships feel a little bulky. A family tree might have helped, but in general the retelling of history is a bit forced at times.
HOWEVER, stay with it! This ending is so worth it!
SO many twists and turns! You’ll gasp. You’ll cry. You’ll squeal. Tracy ties up every loose end, and I can’t remember EVER being more satisfied, more elated, when I turned the last page of a book.
Well done, Tracy. Well done.
- GREAT twists and turns in THE QUEENS HANDMAID by Tracy Higley! You will gasp, cry, and squeal.
- Never a more satisfying ending. Beautifully written. THE QUEENS HANDMAID by Tracy Higley.
- THE QUEENS HANDMAID, an epic tale by Tracy Higley, linking Cleopatra, Marc Antony, and Herod!
- Do you have any questions for Tracy?
- I DO!!! Was it really Marc Antony that named Herod, King of the Jews?