Isaiah’s Legacy: A Novel of Prophets and Kings

Written by Mesu Andrews
Review by Thomas j. Howley

In a small village in Judah, a young girl, Shulle, lives a happy yet simple life with her gentle and sometimes strange father, Haruz. One day, her uncle Shebna arrives from the capital, Jerusalem. He threateningly demands to take Shulle with him to tutor the future king of Judah, Manasseh, son of good and devout King Hezekiah. With her father at risk, Shulle agrees to Shebna’s wishes without knowing that horrific plans are being laid.

Manasseh shares some of the same behavioral “oddities” as her father but seemingly lacks Haruz’s kindness and compassion. The Hebrew faith in Yahweh as the one true God is at risk, as many of the Hebrews are starting to become attracted to the pagan gods of neighboring lands. Shebna is among them. He subtly has Shulle trained to become a pagan priestess, yet as she grows, she has her doubts about the starry gods. Manasseh matures to manhood to marry Shulle and reject Yahweh as he tries to compete with larger and stronger nations. He is ultimately confined in a prison in Babylon where a miracle occurs for both him and Shulle.

Initially somewhat challenging because of the plethora of exotic names and places, this same challenge becomes an advantage as the author breathes life into the people and nations of those biblical times. The reader discovers not only religious history but the geo-political and military story of Judah, Assyria, Babylon, Egypt and others. Manasseh and some other Hebrews reject their ancient faith, heritage and culture not just out of fashion and modernity but, as the author compellingly illustrates, out of deep self-loathing. The novel is full of intense drama, palace intrigue, and bouts of frenetic action. A superbly satisfying and inspiring story of an ancient prodigal son. Highly recommended.