Review: Star of Persia, by Jill Eileen Smith

book coverSynopsis

Love. Duty. Fear. Courage. In the court of the king, which will prevail?

In an effort to complete a war his father had planned to win, King Xerxes calls every governor, satrap, and official in his vast kingdom to his palace in Susa to strategize and feast. When they finally leave, he decides on one more week of frivolity, which ends in the banishment of his favorite wife, something he never intended to do. But when he discovers Esther, Xerxes is sure he has a second chance at happiness.

In her wildest dreams, Esther could never have imagined that she would end up as queen of Persia. Yet she knows better than to become complacent. Another of Xerxes’ wives is vying for position, and his closest advisor has a deep and dangerous grudge against Esther’s adoptive father. Caught in the middle of palace politics, Esther will find herself in an impossible position: risk her life or consign her people to annihilation.


Disclaimer: Although I received a copy of this book from the publisher, the words and opinions below are my own.

The annual Jewish holiday of Purim was earlier this week. I didn’t know this when I planned my book review schedule, so it was pure coincidence that I was reading a novel based on the reason for the event. Purim commemorates the saving of the Jewish people from the Persian Empire official, Haman, recounted in the Book of Esther.

Star of Persia is a great novel that really brought the story of Esther to life. I was thoroughly immersed and, although I knew the outcome, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. The characters involved were fleshed out and came to life in such a way that I could form opinions of them. I thought Mordecai was pretty much useless in raising Esther and providing for her, although he did seem to get his act together eventually. I loved that Vashti was played as a sympathetic character, trying to do her best for her husband, and wished that we could’ve known more about her. In contrast, the bad wife role went to Amestris who is not in the Bible but is included in historical narratives of King Xerxes I (presumed to be the King Ahasuerus of the Old Testament).

Yes, there are a couple of issues in the book that are distasteful, such as methods of execution and, also, the King having concubines. Let’s face it: the whole idea of the king trying to find a queen by sleeping with multiple virgins is distasteful to our minds. But we must accept that history isn’t always pretty, and cultures always have an ugly side. But if the king didn’t go through his selection process and Haman didn’t get his comeuppance, what kind of story would it be? While the Book of Esther doesn’t mention God by name, we can see His hand at work even in the bad stuff.

I’ve read a couple of novels about Esther. As Smith says in her end notes, her story has been written several times. Some have been good. One I won’t mention was so bad, and departed so far from the Bible, that I couldn’t recommend it to anyone. Thankfully, Star of Persia is one I CAN recommend.

Jill Eileen Smith photoAuthor Information

Jill Eileen Smith is the bestselling, award-winning author of the Wives of King David series, the Daughters of the Promised Land, the Wives of the Patriarchs, the Loves of King Solomon and Heart of the King, the nonfiction When Life Doesn’t Match Your Dreams, and Star of Persia, Esther’s Story. Her research has taken her from the Bible to Israel, and she particularly enjoys learning how women lived in Old Testament times.

When she isn’t writing, she loves to spend time with her family and friends, read stories that take her away, ride her bike to the park, snag date nights with her hubby, try out new restaurants, or play with her lovable, “helpful” cat Tiger. Jill lives with her family in southeast Michigan.

Jill Eileen Smith’s Website

Product Information

Publisher: Revell (a division of Baker Publishing)

Publication Date: 03 March 2020

Book Information



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