Of Fire and Lions

Written by Mesu Andrews
Review by J. Lynn Else

In 605 B.C., Abigail is captured by enemy soldiers while hiding in the Holy Temple. She’s forced to serve four captive princes who will be schooled to become governors for Babylon’s king. After the horrors of the invasion, Abigail is surprised by the kindness of the princes, particularly one named Daniel. As time passes, their feelings for one another grow. However, King Nebuchadnezzar wants his governors to marry fine Babylonian women, and Abigail is forced to flee for her life. Alone on the streets of a foreign city, Abigail is left with little more than fear, abuse, and starvation. She becomes a temple priestess to a pagan god, taking the name Belili.

Spanning the 70 years of Hebrew captivity, Daniel and Belili will witness God’s power through the miracle of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; the transformation of Nebuchadnezzar; and Daniel’s punishment in the lion’s den. In that time, will Belili find a path back to Yahweh and to her true love, Daniel?

This book explores the difficulty of faith, particularly in the midst of challenging circumstances. Belili witnesses miracles while also suffering at the hands of others. She questions why God doesn’t save her from heartache while others are saved from a fiery death. Her struggles are intensely relatable and richly explored. Andrews also challenges her characters in ways that test their faith and their feelings. Belili hates the king who destroyed Jerusalem and forced her to leave Daniel, but new feelings are stirred when she watches the king being punished by God. Through suffering, can forgiveness take root?

Andrews captures the tension of court politics, the heartache of personal sacrifice, and the exquisiteness of loving deeply. While these stories are well-known, Andrews brings them to life with graceful tenacity. Of Fire and Lions is a well-researched, epic journey. Recommended!