The Rabbi King: David Of Khazaria

Written by Monroe S. Kuttner
Review by William Nage

David, born and raised in Khazaria, a historically Jewish state in the area of the Caucasus, has been living a scholar’s life in Cordova, Spain in the twelfth century. He returns to his childhood home when his father, the King, dies, only to find Khazaria, which is surrounded by enemies, constantly threatened by invasion — much like present-day Israel. Yet the people, who are observant Jews, believe that God’s protection will help them overcome their foes.

These dreams of security and peace are dashed by Khazaria’s enemies. David himself is in conflict, returning as he has from the charmed life of a scholar to be hurriedly proclaimed Khagan, or King, of the principality. David is confronted by the fact that his scholarly life and Jewish upbringing are incompatible with his duties as king and warrior. Nowhere is this more evident than when David and his legion of warriors must eat non-kosher food on the battlefield in order to survive. While David deals with these moral and ethical dilemmas as a scholar, he must also be a proponent of Khazaria as a nation.

When enemy forces prevail, David is placed on a path where he must find a way to regain control of Khazaria, encountering danger through adventures that hone his skills as a politician and test his faith. An interesting subject not often explored, well written, and despite some rather graphic combat and explicit sexual situations, well worth the read.