The Queen’s Handmaid
By Tracy L. Higley
Synopsis taken from tracyhigley.com
Alexandria, Egypt 39 BC
Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra’s palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm’s length. She’s been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life. But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme. Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah.
I have read two other novels by T.L.Higley – So Shines the Night and City of the Dead. I enjoyed both immensely. The authors love and knowledge of Ancient History exudes from her novels. The Queen’s Handmaid was factually exciting. Higley revealed elements of the Maccabean revolt which lead to the Hasmonean rule in Judea and the intricacies of how King Herod came to power. It was replete with descriptions of the Egyptian, Roman, and Judean life and architecture. As well as how Roman rule helped shape the world Christ would be born into.
Regrettably, I found this novel to be a history lesson with a story forced awkwardly between the lines. While I learned a great deal about the historical events, the story as it pertains to the main character Lydia was lost in the details. Huge blocks of time were skipped, which made it difficult to determine Lydia’s age or how things could have changed so drastically in the storyline. Her mission to deliver the scrolls began as an intriguing part of the plot, dropped off in the middle, and then was revived in the last 75 percent of the book. As with her novel “So Shines the Night” the heroine received divine protection from the One God. What was lacking from this character was her acknowledgment that the God of the Jews was her God. For these reasons I give this book a 3 star rating.