From the moment her marriage to prince Ahab thrusts her into the intrigues of palace life, Jezebel’s exotic beauty opens doors and her will breaks down walls. Torn from her homeland and wed to power in a strange country, Jezebel vows to create a legacy and power all her own. Some might call her a manipulative schemer, bent on having her way. But they don’t know the whole story, and she was much, much worse.
As she moves through the halls of power, her heart struggles between devotion to the gods she worships, the prince who loves her, and her thirst for revenge. She sparks a battle between her strangely powerless gods and the God of palace administrator Obadiah-a God who confronts her with surprising might. She will fight, though victory may cost her everything.
Many years ago, I worked in a Christian book store. One day, a lady came in and asked for the Prayer of Jabez, except what came out of her mouth was “Prayer of Jezebel.” Quickly realizing her mistake, she laughed and said, “I wonder what that book would be like.” But Jezebel didn’t pray; her gods couldn’t be appeased by prayer. They demanded sacrifice. And that is where this book begins. Jezebel is about to do what today we consider the unthinkable. Her twin sister is to be the victim of the Sacrifice of the Beloved. And 12 year old Jezebel is to do the sacrificing on behalf of her family. It’s a stunning start to any book.
Death is a repeated theme throughout the book. Jezebel seems to long for it and is envious of those who die, either by natural means or at the hand of another. She often wishes she had died in the place of her sister. Consequently, she thinks nothing of ordering mass murder and has only a momentary flicker of emotion when infants are sacrificed to her Canaanite gods. Infant sacrifice is seen as a way for women to be free of their mistakes or burdens. Another ongoing motif is the concept of choice, something that was long denied to Jezebel. Now that she has the freedom to make decisions, she’s determined to hang on to it. Ahab has allowed the people of Israel to worship their god of choice, but it isn’t pleasing to God’s prophet, Elijah, and now there’s a power struggle. “Elijah’s first aim is to strip away all choice from the people, to force them to recognize one god alone,” Jezebel warns her husband at one point.
Reign was never going to be a happy story. How could it be, given what we know from the Bible of Jezebel and Ahab? Ginger Garrett has attempted to explain why Jezebel was so hard, putting it in the context of the culture and religion of the times. Few characters are likable, with the possible exception of Obadiah who is the Hebrew servant of Ahab and his father. The ending, however, is rather abrupt. The story of Jezebel ended when she was thrown from a window on the orders of Jehu. Her body was then mauled by dogs. (II Kings 9: 30-37) Knowing that, therefore, I find it a little surprising that the book ends at Ahab’s death, with only a slight hint of what was to come for the pagan queen.
Thank you to David C Cook for my free electronic copy of Reign, which I downloaded from NetGalley. No review was required.
Publisher: David C Cook
Publication Date: 01 May 2013
Page Count: 320