Book Review: Of Fire And Lions by Mesu Andrews

Book Review: Of Fire And Lions by Mesu Andrews

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Updated March 27, 2019
Book Review: Of Fire And Lions by Mesu Andrews

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Book Information


Survival. A Hebrew girl first tasted it when she escaped death nearly seventy years ago as the Babylonians ransacked Jerusalem and took their finest as captives.

She thought she'd perfected in the many years amongst the Magoi and the idol worshippers, pretending with all the others in King Nebuchadnezzar's court. Now, as Daniel's wife and a septuagenarian matriarch, Belili thinks she's safe and she can live out her days in Babylon without fear-until the night Daniel is escorted to Belshazzar's palace to interpret mysterious handwriting on a wall.

The Persian Army invades, and Bellili's tightly-wound secrets unfurl with the arrival of the conquering army. What will the reign of Darius mean for Daniel, a man who prays to Yahweh alone?

Ultimately, Yahweh's sovereign hand guides Jerusalem's captives, and the frightened Hebrew girl is transformed into a confident woman, who realizes her need of the God who conquers both fire and lions.

This book is distributed in the UK by Authentic Media

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Editor review

1 reviews

Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews
Overall rating 
There are a few stories in the Bible that most people have some knowledge of. The story of Noah's Ark, Moses crossing the Red Sea and, of course, Daniel in the Lion's Den have all made it into our common cultural identity. Often though these stories have more to do with myth and mystical stories and the rough and hard edges are taken off, it never ceases to amaze me that we look at the worst punishment in the world when all people, bar eight, were wiped out and we make this a children's toy! The story of Daniel is much more complicated than the story we tell kids and Mesu Andrews does a great job at really bringing this story to life.

This book opens the story on the night of Belshazzar's party using the stolen golden goblets taken from Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Daniel has been summoned to the King's banqueting halls where strange words have appeared on the wall written by a large disembodied hand. At home his wife only knew that Daniel, who has been out of pleasure with the King, has been summoned and taken away by the King's guards. Much of this story is told through the eyes of Daniel's wife and this is as much her story as it is his, and ultimately it is a story of Yahweh's faithfulness to His people. As the family realise that the city is being invaded, they flee to the temple for shelter and in this place memories of her past she has hidden from her family return and they cannot help but relay to them some of her story.

As a young Hebrew girl, Abigail and her Ima (mother) are cleaners of the kings quarters and they are cleaning when the cities gates are opened by the king allowing the forces of Babylon to enter and ransack the City. Abigail is sent for shelter in the temple by her mum as she is sure to be safe there. At the temple Abigail enters the Holy place in the temple, feeling scared, alone and hungry she finds some of the bread of offering to the Lord and takes a piece to eat. As she investigates further, even knowing she is forbidden to do so she enters the Holy of Holies, seeing the Ark of the Covenant. She eats some of the bread before she is discovered and places the torn piece of loaf on the Ark. Through this time she prays for Yahweh's mercy for her position. One of the Eunuch's of Babylon discovers her and although seeming cruel to her at first makes sure that she gets safely to the train of those who are being taken captive. Before she leaves the Holy of Holies she picks up her piece of bread which the Eunuch allows her to carry with her, and she realises that it has been made whole again!

Once she joins the others being taken from Jerusalem she is put in charge of four young royals being taken by Nebuchadnezzar to be trained up to have status in his empire. These are Hananiah, Mishael, Azariah (better known by their Babyonian names of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego), and of course Daniel who was to become in Royal service, Belteshazzar. The story from here weaves her lives among theirs until they enter Babylon, but then she is separated and sent to the temple of Esagia to serve there, but that is not the end of this love story, of Abigail for Daniel or of Yahweh and His people, and there are definitely many twists and turns and dark secrets to come.

The story is told in two times. Opening in 539BC and moving forward through the reign of Belshazzar and into Darius and Cyrus, and throwing back to 605BC and moving forward through the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Although many of the characters in this story are biblically and historically true, there is a level of fiction added to this story and Abigail (later known as Belili) is a fictional character, along with many of her household. These characters are used by the author very skilfully to add a level of intrigue that really brings this story off the page. The journey of Belili's past and the secrets that she holds add a huge tension to the story and puts flesh on the bones of the Biblical record.

As you can imagine there are fixed points that this book visits through the pages. Starting with the Babylonian invasion and ending with God's continued promise to restore Jerusalem and his people there these events include Daniels prophecies, but it doesn't try and give explanation for them. It also includes the fiery furnace, the Lord's punishment of King Nebuchadnezzar, something which adds additional pressure of secrets to the family, the overthrow of the Babylonian rule by the Medes and Persians and of course Daniels betrayal and punishment in the lion's den.

This book is so well written. Sometimes we are so familiar with these stories in the Bible record we can distance this from the fact that these were real people facing very real, life-threatening situations. People with hopes, fears, doubts, hurts and secrets that also had to try and maintain faith that God in the toughest of circumstances, and they saw God move miraculously. This type of book puts flesh on the bones of the story and allowing us to relive some of these important stories that build our own faith in God. I enjoy the idea that Mesu Andrews wraps her incredible talent around the biblical facts so thoroughly without think she has to re-write history to make it fit. In the back the author even takes the time to explain her thinking about some things that may be not explained in the biblical record as clearly as it could have been.

If you want to reignite your love for the Old Testament or the Bible in general then this is a great book to do so. If you are looking for a love story then this also ticks this box. If you want a story to refocus your faith on God's faithfulness then there is something here which shows how God worked. We need to remind ourselves that we have the very same God and He hasn't changed one bit, He is as powerful today as He was then, but we have even more direct access to Him through Christ. This is such a well-written story that it will draw you in completely even if you find these things hard to believe. I really would love to read further books by Mesu Andrews and you can get a taster of her writing by signing up to her e-mail newsletter and you will get access to a free novella which is a prequel to this book called "Of Heroes and Kings".

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