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Review: The Queen’s Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley

I’ve always been a bit of a history buff. In fact, my minor was in history. But my favorite periods to study are some of those with complicated monarchies. There is just something about all the political maneuvering and strategizing that is fascinating. The one thing that is common throughout though, is that many rulers become power hungry at some point. Sometimes it just shows up in different forms. 

The Queen’s Handmaid portrays a number of rulers from a time when the Jews were watching for their Messiah. Cleopatra, Marc Antony, Caesar, and Herod are all major players in this novel (though some we don’t really meet). Whether for better or for worse, these rulers and the political games they played, made an impact on the world in which they ruled.

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**I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson and NetGalley in exchange for my honest review**

A jealous Egyptian queen. A lascivious Galilean governor. A beautiful servant girl. Theirs is a story of prophecy, self-discovery, and revelation. The year is 39 BC. All of Alexandria awaits the arrival of Herod, the Galilean governor with his eye on the Judean kingship. The handmaid of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, receives a troubling visit from her aging mentor. An orphan since birth, Lydia lives in the palace at the demand of Cleopatra and her royal child, the son of Julius Caesar. But Lydia has a growing problem on her hands: her beauty is becoming a liability to the aging queen, and the visiting Herod’s undisguised interest only makes matters worse. When Lydia’s mentor is murdered, the handmaid inherits a daunting task. An ancient set of sealed scrolls, the secret writings of the prophet Daniel, must be returned to Jerusalem–before those who killed her mentor destroy the scrolls as well. The future of the Israelites depends on it. So Lydia leaves the palace to serve as lady’s maid to Herod’s wife in the Holy City. As Lydia is absorbed into the machinations of Herod’s household, her mission– and her people’s hope of a Messianic King–are endangered at every turn. Can Lydia avoid the adulterous intentions of Herod? Can she deliver the scrolls to the mysterious man on the steps of the Temple? Will the true King of Israel ever rise?

From page one, this story drew me in. It is difficult to not be entranced in the courts of Cleopatra, which is where this novel starts. Cleopatra ruled with wealth and strong power. She was a ruler that one did not cross. So this is where we first meet Lydia.

It took me awhile to figure Lydia out. Her character is shrouded in a little bit of mystery. It is clear that there are a number of things from her past that make her keep her heart protected. She is a bit of an unlikely heroine, and when she is charged with a task that seems impossible, it pushes the story forward.

There were so many surprises in this novel! As I moved through the story, I my the story’s hold on my imagination grew stronger. The tension in this novel builds fast and steadily, with little relief until the end.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It incorporated so much interesting history. It was quite interesting experiencing what the world may have been like in Jerusalem and Judea when the world was awaiting a Messiah. Combine that with an intense plot, and you have a wonderful book.

For more on the author or this book, please check out the following links:

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