Shadow Mountain, 2000
Reviewed by Susan Conatser
Orson Scott Card has written a vivid fictionalized tale of the life of Sarah and Abraham of the Old Testament. As the story opens, ten-year-old Sarai draws water from the cistern for a young man who has come to pay the bride price for her sister, Princess Qira. At first she thinks he is one of the filthy Amorite desert dwellers, until he washes away the desert dirt to reveal a handsome, appealing face. The deposed King of Ur, Princesses Qira and Sarai's father, has offered his oldest daughter for marriage to a son of an ancient lineage of priests. The royal family lives in luxurious exile, but there are few prospects for marriage for the young girls. The proud Qira, raised to be the consort of a king, is promised to Lot, a wealthy herdsman, while Sarai is promised to serve as a priestess in the shrine of Asherah. But Lot's uncle, Abram, makes known his desire to come back for Sarai, when she is old enough.
Twenty-year-old Abram has come to the King of Ur to seal the marriage arrangement for his nephew Lot. But political complications arise when Suwertu, a representative of the Egyptian Pharaoh, challenges Abram's ancient birthright as a descendant of Noah. Suwertu asks Abram to prove his family's heritage through a test. Allow them to sacrifice him to the god of Ba'al and let his father, Terah, come and bring him back to life. With his superior wit and intelligence, Abram mocks Suwertu until he storms off in anger. The King of Ur begs Abram to leave before Suwertu tries to carry out his threat, but Abram promises to return. Not only will Lot come to claim Qira, but Abram will return for young Sarai.
SARAH is a stirring account of an ancient story and Mr. Card has brought these characters to colorful life with his rich portrayal. The affectionate banter of the newlyweds, and Sarai's anguish over her desire for children, are dramatically depicted. Bible historians will likely take issue with Card's version of events. Nevertheless, it is entertaining to see these historical characters through this author's eyes. I was disappointed to see his use of King James language in scenes where Sarai prayed to God. Overall this tale is fascinating reading and I look forward to reading more of this outstanding series.
SARAH is the first title in the Women of Genesis series. Best known for his science fiction and fantasy tales, Card has created a moving account with flesh and blood characters. REBEKAH was released in 2002 and RACHEL AND LEAH is due out in February 2004.
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