Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Book Review: Chronicles of the Kings

Chronicles of the Kings by Lynn Austin
Gods and Kings (Chronicles of the Kings #1)Song of Redemption (Chronicles of the Kings #2)The Strength of His Hand (Chronicles of the Kings #3)Faith of My Fathers (Chronicles of the Kings #4)Among the Gods (Chronicles of the Kings #5)

I just have to tell you about these wonderful books!  Lynn Austin has taken the Biblical accounts of 3 kings - King Ahaz, King Hezekiah and King Manessah and has fictionalized their stories.  What does that mean?  That means she took what we know about them from Scripture and filled in the gaps with what could have happened.  (As you read these books, you always have to keep in mind that it is fiction, not the Word of God.)

That being said...Austin does an outstanding job of taking you back to ancient Judah, a land of connected city-states that are under the authority of one king. At this time Israel has been divided into two kingdoms.  The northern kingdom of Israel has it's base in Damascus.  The southern kingdom of Judah is ruled from the beautiful city of Jerusalem. 

In Gods and Kings, the story starts out with King Ahaz, a worshiper of idols who made it a practice to sacrifice his kids to those idols.  He literally took his oldest sons and threw them into a fire to burn to death in hope that whatever god he was praying to would give him victory in the coming battles.

Contrast that with his son...the one who was spared from the fire - King Hezekiah.  Song of Redemption starts out with Ahaz's death and Hezekiah's rise to king.  Without Scripture clearly telling us why Hezekiah turned to the one true God, Yahweh, Austin uses her imagination.  She develops a story around his grandfather, a godly man who taught him the truth as a child.  At age 25, Hezekiah becomes king.  He learns God's laws and abolishes idolatry in the land. 

The Strength of His Hand takes you through Hezekiah's life, his struggles, his weaknesses and his great accomplishments.  This book was my favorite because you see Hezekiah as a strong king especially compared to the kings around him.  If you have ever struggled with Old Testament history, reading these books will really help to make it come alive to you.

Unfortunately King Hezekiah died while his son, Manasseh was still young.  Faith of my Fathers opens as Manasseh took the throne at the tender age of 12.  He turned away from God and quickly plunged Judah into the worst depravity it had ever seen.  Austin's portrayal of Manasseh's slide into sin was, from a literary standpoint, brilliant.  She expertly captured the way most people start to sin - twisting the truth a little at a time until you forget what the truth really is.

In the meantime, there is still a faithful remnant in Judah, those who will only serve Yahweh.  Among the Gods follows these faithful few as they are exiled from their country and as they work to restore Judah back to God.

The Chronicles of the Kings are rich with great writing.  They draw you in until you can't stop reading.  They make Scripture come alive as you see both the good and sinful side of each character.  I thoroughly enjoyed these books and would recommend them to anyone!

Obviously, I give these books 5 out of 5 stars.

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