Saturday, April 14, 2007

Lilah by Marek Halter

In 397 BC in Susa, the opulent capital of the Persian empire where the Jews are living in exile, a young woman seems destined for a happy life.

Her name is Lilah

Lilah is due to marry Antinoes, a great Persian warrior well known at the king's court. But her beloved brother Ezra, whom she has been close to since childhood, is opposed to this marriage with a foreigner. If Lilah insists, she will have to renounce Ezra, and that is something that she cannot do. Fore she senses that he has been chosen by God to lead the exiled Jews to Jerusalem and, after centuries of displacement, revive the laws of Moses: laws which promote justice and give human life a meaning.

Abandoning the prospect of a golden future, Lilah urges her brother to leave for Jerusalem and gives him new hope that a return to the Promised Land is possible. But Ezra, blinded by faith, orders the rejection of all foreign wives. At the risk of losing the one person who still has left in her life, Lilah opposes her brother's fanaticism, thereby ensuring the survival of the women and children condemned to leave the city. But her opposition comes at great personal cost...

This is the third book in the Canaan trilogy after Zipporah, and unfortunately this is the weakest of the trilogy.

This story focuses on the little known story of Ezra, who led the people of Israel back to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple. Growing up Ezra had been incredibly close to his sister, Lilah and the Persian boy Antinoes. Antinoes has grown up to become a famous warrior who is still in love with Lilah, but the relationship between Antinoes and Ezra has completely disintegrated. Lilah is determined that she is going to marry Antinoes, but there is not only her brother's opposition to get past, there is also opposition from the very scary queen, who has been known to throw people who have betrayed her, or who she just doesn't like, to her pet lions!

So the first half of the book focuses on Antinoes and Lilah as they try to find a way to be together, and then accept that they are to be parted, as Ezra is granted approval from the King to be allowed to lead the Jewish people to Jerusalem, and Lilah must go with him.

The second half of the book not only changes focus to the journey to Jerusalem, and then what happens once the people get there, but it also completely changes format. The first half is broken into chapters, whereas the second half changes to being a letter written by Lilah to Antinoes, a letter that she knows he will never actually receive or read. This change of format doesn't really work at all in my opinion, and only seems to make the book feel disjointed and uneven.

The other thing that really through me was at one point the Queen was getting massaged with oils, and the author listed several different oils, and then said Eucalyptus. Now, as far as I am aware Eucalyptus is native to Australia, with a couple of species being found in New Guinea, Indonesia and Philippines, but there is no way known that Eucalyptus trees were available in Persia in 357 BC. It was just one of those facts that when I read it, I was completely thrown out of the story.

After quite enjoying the first book in this trilogy, and mostly liking the second, this was a disappointingly uninspiring conclusion to the trilogy.

Rating 2.5/5

Other Blogger's Thoughts:

Age 30 - A Year of Books


  1. I see how you can be disappointed with this conclusion. Are there any biblical fiction novels that you can recommend ?

  2. My favourite biblical based novel is The Red Tent by Anita Dunant.

  3. I SO agree with you review! I said almost the same thing in mine. Check it out if you like ... I'm linking it to yours. ;)



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