Book Reviews

Book Review: Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin

24In Their Darkest Hour, Where Would Hope Be Found?

In one life-changing moment, the lives of the exiles in Babylon are thrown into despair when a decree from the king’s palace calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire in less than one year.

Ezra, a quiet but brilliant scholar, soon finds himself called upon to become the leader of his people. Forced to rally an army when all his training has been in the Torah, he struggles to bring hope in a time of utter despair, when dreams of the future–of family and love–seem impossible.

In Keepers of the Covenant, acclaimed novelist Lynn Austin weaves together the struggles and stories of both Jews and Gentiles, creating a tapestry of faith and doubt, love and loss. Here, the Old Testament comes to life, demonstrating the everlasting hope displayed in God’s unwavering love for His people.

I cannot tell you enough how much I have loved Austin’s The Restoration Chronicles. I had read them out of order so this is an ending for me even though this book is in the middle of the series. But if you haven’t picked up this series yet,  or if you’ve been debating on trying out Biblical Fiction for the first time, I urge you to put this series on your list.

As with the other books of the series, Keepers of the Covenant is packed full of timeless truths. Austin was able to weave in an abundance of life lessons into a story that was both original and Biblical all at the same time.
Keepers tells the story of Ezra and while Austin had to use her imagination in places and even fictionalize portions to create a full novel, she also stayed close to what the Bible DID portray and brought this story and it’s cultural setting to life. The one complaint that I had was that there were portions or characters that fell flat for me and this isn’t something that I’m used to saying about Austin’s work. Despite this issue, I was able to enjoy the story and learn so much along the way.
One of the things that I really enjoyed was the story of Esther from a new perspective. We rarely hear the Biblical tale of Esther outside of Esther and her uncle. But in Keepers, Austin brought to us the tale of the “other” victims in the story. The ones that are silent in the Bible were given a voice and we were able to witness the event through their eyes.
I appreciated the lessons she brought out such as: Having faith through trials, the contrast between pagan and Jewish customs, respect and honoring all life, and following God with your whole heart.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend Keepers of the Covenant to anyone who enjoys Christian Fiction or Biblical Fiction. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

Here’s one of my absolute favorites:

“We show our faith in God when we keep moving forward even when our prayers aren’t being answered. It’s the highest form of praise to keep believing that God is good even when it doesn’t seem that way.”

And this one is a little long, but such strong and sturdy truth that I just have to share:

“It’s easy to have faith when we get everything we want from God, everything we pray for. But when we don’t, we have to decide if we want His will or our own. We can’t manipulate God by a display of faith or by our actions. Only idols can be manipulated. God is sovereign, and He will do what He wills, for His purposes. And those purposes are often hidden from us. I admit I don’t like God’s will when it means that my brother has to die. God no longer seems to fit the tidy little portrait I’ve drawn of Him. But God doesn’t change, Devorah. Only our image of Him can change – and any image we create of an infinite God is an idol.”…”The question we have to ask, the question I ask myself is, will we allow grief and disappointment to erect a barricade between us and God? Or will we allow God to be the barricade, the shelter, between us and our sorrow?”

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