Title: Isaiah’s Legacy
Author: Mesu Andrews
Series: Prophets and Kings, book 3
Major Themes: Biblical Fiction, Historical Fiction
Synopsis: Wife of one of the most powerful men in Israel, Shulle witnesses the horrors of King Manasseh’s reign—will there ever be hope for Judah?
I haven’t often felt so conflicted over a book, but Isaiah’s Legacy has certainly done that for me! There were so many things I appreciated about this story, but I could not wholeheartedly endorse it, either. Biblical fiction can tend to take two paths—either Biblically sound, or the much less appealing flawed version, with the banner “creative license” floating above it. This book, I felt like, fell in the mostly-sound category. And I loved it for that. However, there were some major drawbacks, too—but I’ll get to those soon.
As a child, Meshullemeth (Shulle) is taken from her childhood village and brought to Jerusalem to live with her uncle. There, she is taught by one of the best Babylonian sorceresses, and made into a grove priestess against her will. Though taught about Yahweh as a child, she comes to believe other gods are higher than Yahweh, and in order to protect herself and her family, she does what she feels she must do.
Manasseh, the only son of King Hezekiah and Queen Hephzibah, is quite physically challenged. He struggles to connect with other people, and though he has a brilliant mind, his words do not come easily. When he and Shulle meet up for the first time, they take an instant liking to each other—Shulle, because she can see his potential, and can relate with him because her father had a similar personality, and Nasseh, because Shulle is beautiful and understands and respects him at his level. Together, will they be able to carry on and build up their kingdom of Judah? What will happen when enemy forces much greater than they come against them?
I loved the picture Isaiah’s Legacy painted of this time period. It was so very difficult and wrong decisions were made, but in the end, God’s truth did prevail. I felt like I was transported to Ancient Israel and given a story that was historically accurate, and for that, I really enjoyed this.
Though in some ways I’d love to give this book a raving review—the world-building was excellent, the characters were incredibly well-developed and diverse, and the storyline was perfectly orchestrated—some portions of this book brought the rating way down for me. I expected to have a good amount of mentions about heathen worship, because of the kind of king Manasseh was, but I hoped they would be all off-screen. Unfortunately, I felt like there were still too many details on-screen (even though they were carefully written) that I didn’t want to read. For example, we read in the Bible that Manasseh sacrificed his son—and in the book, that’s just about all the mention we get. It wasn’t shown on-screen, just referenced before and after, but you don’t have to see it happen. I appreciated that. One thing I didn’t expect was to have one of the main point of view characters be a sorceress and priestess. For the amount of detail that was given, I was thankful it wasn’t more in-depth, but even so, I almost stopped reading the book because of it. There were quite a few references to bedroom scenes, too, and that was not at all to my liking either.
Honestly, reviewing this book is hard for me. Yes, I enjoyed elements of Isaiah’s Legacy. They didn’t really outweigh the parts I didn’t like, though. If you want a gripping account of this time in Judah’s history, it may be a good choice—but know that it does contain some icky stuff, too, and I would not have read it if I had known about everything involved in this story. Read at your own discretion!
“Why questions lead only to doubt. Only Who questions build faith. Who is sovereign over the kingdoms of earth? Who spoke light into darkness? And Who promised to capture and build Nasseh’s heart?” —Yaira
I requested a free review copy of this book, and this is my honest opinion of it.
WARNING: The top three main things that came up throughout the book—and had too many mentions to be able to make any sort of helpful list—were evil worship of the gods (sorcery, priestess training, divination, etc. in 28 different chapters), people being killed (mentioned in 23 different chapters; Isaiah’s death may have been the worst, in ch. 35), and multiple hints at marital relations (mentioned in 22 different chapters, sometimes more than once in a chapter). Kissing also happened frequently throughout the book, as well as descriptions of touching after marriage.
Unmarried people touching, sometimes sensually, is mentioned in ch. 2, 9, 13, and 15. “Women’s things” are mentioned in ch. 6, 24, 41, and 48. Concubines and their duties are talked about in ch. 11, 23-25, 27, 28, 40, and 42. A woman’s body is described in ch. 11. A girl undresses a boy in ch. 13, and unmarried people are alone together, almost totally undressed, in ch. 15. Contraceptives are mentioned in ch. 18, 24, 41, 43, 47, and 48. A naked baby is told about briefly in ch. 23. A woman is pregnant in ch. 25 and 52. A man eyes up a woman in ch. 26 and 51. A man wants to share a maid with his men in ch. 51.
Child sacrifice is alluded to or talked about in ch. 1, 2, 8, 35, 41, 43, 45, 47, 48, 52, 53, and 54. People’s lives are threatened in ch. 7, 26, and 51. Evil torture or ways people were killed, including some of the Assyrian’s evil practices (without regard for human life) are mentioned in ch. 7, 10, 12, 26, 27, 32, 43, 46, and 54. Women are hurt in ch. 9 and 49. Natural deaths occur in ch. 12, 50, and 58. A man is told he should pledge his fealty in blood in ch. 27, and someone threatens to send a message written with the messenger’s blood in ch. 27. A mention of a woman who committed suicide is made in ch. 29. Someone sees a girl being beaten in ch. 36. A cat has kittens in ch. 36. Men are hurt in ch. 21, 51, 53-55, and 57. A woman wishes a man would die in ch. 52, 54, and 56. Traitors are mentioned in ch. 49 and 57. There is lying in ch. 7, 9, 11, 16, and 44.
People are drunk in ch. 12 and 28. People are sick in ch. 22 and 58. Animals are taught to be cruel or are killed cruelly in ch. 23, 26, and 27.
People try to plant seeds of doubt about God in ch. 9. People make fun of Isaiah in ch. 19. In ch. 46, someone talks about Hezekiah dying from the same “plague” that killed the Assyrians—I believe this is a Biblical error.