About the Book
The empress Tathea is awakened by the sounds of insurrection. The army, the aristocracy, and the royal guard have all turned against her husband, and stained the palace with his blood. Were she an ordinary ruler, she might follow him to the grave, but Tathea is a child of the wild lands. She comes from the desert, so to the desert she flees.
Across the kingdom she travels, searching for shelter, friendship, and an explanation for the tragedy that destroyed her old life. As she fights to stay alive, she finds a book whose message might tip the scales in the battle between good and evil, changing the world forever. If her life is to have meaning, Tathea will have to spread the word.
4 out of 5 (stars)
To be honest, I’m not quite sure how to approach this book emotionally. As I read it I experienced a rush of different kinds of strong emotions that I wasn’t sure how to deal with and so made me reluctant to put my finger on. That however does not incline me to ignore the strength of Anne’s writing. Understanding the theme of the story makes me very agreeable that this is a job well done.
This book is not for everyone. I must state that clearly. If you are one fond of happy endings, and I mean the fairy tale kind to be exact, you might not enjoy this story. It is full of ups and downs, sorrows and joys, failures and victories and certainly not bliss in the lives of the characters. It sort of depicts the lives of Paul, the apostles and the early Christians, told in a fantasy world through the story of a woman, Tathea, an empress who lost everything, escaped with barely her life and set out on a quest to discover the Truth of life. In the end, this story makes it clear that serving God comes at a high price with the crux of it being self-denial, if you must successfully carry the cross that He has laid on your shoulder.
These characters struck me the most—Tathea, Alexius and Eleni. My heart went out to them and I’m so glad they’re not real or I would weep (as if that stopped me). Ra-Nufis was another character that tugged my heart, though not as strongly as those three. Thinking of him, I simply shake my head. I say nothing more. I’ll leave everything to the book.
Tathea’s personality was the strongest of them all. She had dignity, pride and strength which didn’t deter growth of humility. She had a sharp awareness of her reality and what it was that was required of her to do. She was not afraid to embrace her life as it had been given to her and the few times that fear did creep in, she dealt with it in an admirable way. Courage is what I would call Tathea.
Followed closely was Alexius. Becoming pulled to the Book and Tathea caught him in a dilemma that I wouldn’t wish for anyone. But he dealt with his battles in a most honorable way.
Eleni was soft and sweet but had great strength of her own. She overcame what many women could not, and you couldn’t help but love her for it.
The Book that Tathea was given, clearly not the Bible but a fictional version of it, had me confused on some issues of the Law. In fact, I must warn that it could leave any reader confused because it was presented very strongly from a theological point of view as well as spiritual. Some things I don’t agree with at all, even though I can see Anne’s point of view. I later arrived at the conclusion that such things should be dealt with on a basis of personal conviction.
As a work of fiction, I must confess that I highly respect Anne’s command of English. She is indeed a master crafter and artist. Her use of metaphor was powerfully constructed and very purposeful, sometimes resembling poetry but couldn’t be denied to be prose. It was very enlightening and I think that’s amazing.
Though this is not my typical read, and because of the emotions it provoked in me and so I can’t say I enjoyed it immensely, I would be dishonest if I don’t give adequate credit to Anne’s work. I probably didn’t enjoy it because my hopes for the characters didn’t pull through as I wanted them to, but Anne did an amazing job. The story was engaging and kept me pulled to it until the last pages. Overall, I got the sense that it was a non-fiction story told in fiction, with a bitter-sweet edge to it.
About the Author
Anne Perry is the bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels, including Dark Assassin and The Shifting Tide, and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels, including The Cater Street Hangman, Calandar Square, Buckingham Palace Gardens and Long Spoon Lane. She is also the author of the World War I novels No Graves As Yet, Shoulder the Sky, Angels in the Gloom, At Some Disputed Barricade, and We Shall Not Sleep, as well as six holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Grace. Anne Perry lives in Scotland.