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An inventive retelling of the ancient story of Vashti and Esther—a soaring tale of political turmoil, searing betrayal, passionate friendship, and forbidden love. For fans of The Red Tent and The Dovekeepers, India Edghill breathes new life into the biblical story of Vashti and Esther with her signature historical richness, epic scope, and sweeping romance. You may know part An inventive retelling of the ancient story of Vashti and Esther—a soaring tale of political turmoil, searing betrayal, passionate friendship, and forbidden love. For fans of The Red Tent and The Dovekeepers, India Edghill breathes new life into the biblical story of Vashti and Esther with her signature historical richness, epic scope, and sweeping romance. You may know part of the story already, but you only know what history has passed along. The story of how Vashti, Queen of Queens, the most beautiful woman in all the empire, defied the king her husband and so lost her crown. The story of how Ahasuerus, King of Kings, commanded that the most beautiful maidens be sent to his court so he might choose a new queen. And you may know how he set the queen’s crown upon the head of the virtuous and beautiful Esther, and how Queen Esther herself defied both king and law to save her people from a treacherous fate. What India Edghill brings us in Game of Queens is the story of power and treachery, blood and deception, bravery and romance that surrounds the court of Ahasuerus and brings to life two of the most celebrated female heroines in all of history.


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An inventive retelling of the ancient story of Vashti and Esther—a soaring tale of political turmoil, searing betrayal, passionate friendship, and forbidden love. For fans of The Red Tent and The Dovekeepers, India Edghill breathes new life into the biblical story of Vashti and Esther with her signature historical richness, epic scope, and sweeping romance. You may know part An inventive retelling of the ancient story of Vashti and Esther—a soaring tale of political turmoil, searing betrayal, passionate friendship, and forbidden love. For fans of The Red Tent and The Dovekeepers, India Edghill breathes new life into the biblical story of Vashti and Esther with her signature historical richness, epic scope, and sweeping romance. You may know part of the story already, but you only know what history has passed along. The story of how Vashti, Queen of Queens, the most beautiful woman in all the empire, defied the king her husband and so lost her crown. The story of how Ahasuerus, King of Kings, commanded that the most beautiful maidens be sent to his court so he might choose a new queen. And you may know how he set the queen’s crown upon the head of the virtuous and beautiful Esther, and how Queen Esther herself defied both king and law to save her people from a treacherous fate. What India Edghill brings us in Game of Queens is the story of power and treachery, blood and deception, bravery and romance that surrounds the court of Ahasuerus and brings to life two of the most celebrated female heroines in all of history.

30 review for Game of Queens: A Novel of Vashti and Esther

  1. 5 out of 5

    Gin Jenny (Reading the End)

    Note: I received a review copy of Game of Queens from the publisher for review consideration. This has no bearing upon my super-intense vengeful emotions about Haman and their contribution to my enjoyment of the book; about which, see further remarks below. In my 2014 book preview, my expressed wish for Game of Queens, a retelling of the story of Esther, was that it not use the word sex as a euphemism for genitalia. And it did not. It also turned out to feature Daniel, of lions-not-eating-him fam Note: I received a review copy of Game of Queens from the publisher for review consideration. This has no bearing upon my super-intense vengeful emotions about Haman and their contribution to my enjoyment of the book; about which, see further remarks below. In my 2014 book preview, my expressed wish for Game of Queens, a retelling of the story of Esther, was that it not use the word sex as a euphemism for genitalia. And it did not. It also turned out to feature Daniel, of lions-not-eating-him fame, being gay without his close friends fretting too much about it, and it managed the neat trick of vilifying not Esther nor Vashti nor Ahasuerus. Which, if you remember the Book of Esther in any detail, you will notice is really quite some trick. Haman is vilified, as is right and just. When I was a wee tot, I had this amazing book called Behold Your Queen which was also a retelling of the Esther story (it did vilify poor old Vashti), and so the moment where Haman gets hanged upon his own gallows was one of the formative Revenge moments of my childhood. Although Game of Queens is subtitled A Novel of Vashti and Esther, it’s really Vashti’s book. In part this is because Esther’s story is already so familiar, and by the nature of her story, she’s a less dynamic character. Vashti’s the one who gets to change and grow, to realize that she can’t be Marie Antoinette all the time, and to learn to become a player in the politics of her country, instead of a pawn. She’s a fun character, and it’s surprisingly rare to have a book in which a ditzy girl gets to get to make shit happen. Greatest book ever, Pulitzer Prize material? Okay, probably not. But I cherish the story of Esther, and what Edghill has produced here is a monumentally satisfying version of that story. Not only do we get a Vashti who finds a way to control her own destiny even after she’s set aside as Queen of All Persia, but there’s this whole subsidiary plot about getting REVENGE on Haman even before Haman comes up with the idea of killing all the Jews. Final note: Apparently Martin Luther was ruhlly ruhlly not into the Book of Esther. It was probably too fun for him. He probably wanted to put the Book of Job in there twice, just to make everyone miserable. Cranky old jerk. (I’m glad the Reformation happened. Super important, historically. Major step forward for Europe. I’m just not such a fan of Martin Luther as a person.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    ambyr

    This is a book I would have enjoyed a hell of a lot more had it had a different subtitle. When Edghill is doing her own thing--when she's writing the tale of Hegai, a bit character in the Biblical story, as a eunuch who rises from a life of sexual slavery to a position of power--it's a trashy but entertaining story. But her efforts to retell the Book of Esther (and, oddly mashed in here, the Book of Daniel) fall flat on their face. This is partly because they require writing about Jews, and Edgh This is a book I would have enjoyed a hell of a lot more had it had a different subtitle. When Edghill is doing her own thing--when she's writing the tale of Hegai, a bit character in the Biblical story, as a eunuch who rises from a life of sexual slavery to a position of power--it's a trashy but entertaining story. But her efforts to retell the Book of Esther (and, oddly mashed in here, the Book of Daniel) fall flat on their face. This is partly because they require writing about Jews, and Edghill cites no Jewish sources, and appears to have done virtually no research into the lives of Jews in ancient Persia. The Jews here are so indistinguishable from the Zoroastrians (if the Persians are Zoroastrians; that's kinda vague too) that when, in the climax, Haman tells evil queen mother Amestris (in this book, Ahasuerus is innocent of all knowledge of the plot to kill the Jews) "O queen I have learned of a people within the empire who threaten its peace . . . they keep their own laws, not ours," I actually put the book on pause to splutter, because at no point in the preceding narrative are Jews shown keeping their own laws. Daniel wonders, once, if the soup he's eating is kosher--and then he eats it anyway. That's about it. Daniel in particular is so bland, so unrecognizable from his Biblical roots, that I found my attention wandering every time he appeared on page. That's unfortunate, because he takes up the first 10% or so of the book--and then keeps popping up over and over again like a bad penny to offer words of wisdom so trite I wouldn't accept them from a fortune cookie. Esther (who shows up around around the 50% mark) has more personality, but her motivations are rarely coherent, and her instalove with Ahasuerus is laughable. Still, where the book was willing to abandon, well, The Book, and write instead about Vashti's harem life and friendship with Esther, I enjoyed it well enough. I just have to pretend that the biblical names are coincidence and this has nothing to do with the Purim story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Tiff

    India Edghill has done it AGAIN. I love her novels, love the characters, the words, the ambience, the world building. For a day, I traveled back to Ancient Persia and into a version of my favorite bible story, Esther. I like that India Edghill takes a story that has been told a thousand times, and still is able to make it her own. WELL DONE MADAM!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    I have been a long time fan of India Edgehill - she may have been the very first author I ever wrote, and this was a long time back when the world was less small, and one couldn't just do that. I love historical fiction, but this is a whole "nother" category for me, that I call "midrash-y" works, and I just love them. Along the lines of the Red Tent, authors take lesser known folks from the Bible, or other parts of incredibly early Judeo history, and try to tell their stories, and perhaps fill i I have been a long time fan of India Edgehill - she may have been the very first author I ever wrote, and this was a long time back when the world was less small, and one couldn't just do that. I love historical fiction, but this is a whole "nother" category for me, that I call "midrash-y" works, and I just love them. Along the lines of the Red Tent, authors take lesser known folks from the Bible, or other parts of incredibly early Judeo history, and try to tell their stories, and perhaps fill in some blanks. India Edgehill has written Wisdom's Daughter, Delilah, and Queenmaker, one of those was on Solomon and Sheba, one clearly on Delilah, and the last I cannot remember, but I want to say the wife or daughter of King Saul? These three were amongst my favorite books I ever read, and so I looked to Game of Queens with great anticipation. Game of Queens is the story of Vashti and Esther, who figure prominently in Megillus Esther, one of the five extra scrolls associated with the Torah. These women, along with King Ahasuerus and the wicked Haman, figure prominently in the story of Purim, a holiday Jews just celebrated this weekend. One of the central holiday rituals and mandates, is to re-tell the story, to read the entire Megillus aloud, so that everyone can hear it. When the wicked evil guy's name shows up in the tale, adults and kids alike use triggers to make a whole lot of noise. Its organized booing. I just learned Saturday night, that we make noise to cover the name, but that we actually don't shy away from saying it. Rather than casting Haman into the original "He Who Shall Not be Named,", we say his name and then emerge with rapturous protest - why? because there will always be aggression, hate, and evil in the world. We cannot ignore the truth of that. We can merely raise our voices to do something to point it out and stand in protest together. Kids (and adults) dress up as the characters in the story, (its become the Jewish version of Halloween in general these days.). Kids make crowns, and we eat triangular shaped pastries with various fruits inside, apricot, prune, poppy. We are told in Hebrew School that this is because the evil Wicked Human had a triangular shaped hat. I also learned this year, that this is also not true. (None of this I learned from the book.). Its because Haman's Ears had a triangular shape. No joke - his ears. Making this delicacy, Hamantaschen, is one of the ways we transform evil into something delicious. Now, back to the book. Well, first I want to say that to my knowledge, no one has ever tried to write a historical fiction novel on these two characters, and this is where India Edgehill shines, bringing these characters to life. Vashti and Esther are amongst our very first feminists. And at a time when no such thing could have possibly existed. Little girls have looked up to them, and modern day re-tellings absolutely cast the story in an extremely feminist light. These women have dignity, self-respect, and great faith. And between Esther and the King, its actually a love story. One that shaped our history. The story of Purim is one in an extremely long line of: They tried to kill us; we survived, lets eat. But the story is so much more than that. Its about all the coincidences, that show us that God was hidden the entire time, that allow us to see a hidden hand in our outcomes. Although God is never mentioned in Purim, and not mentioned at all in the novel either. Its a story of coincidences, faith, even prophecy and dreams have a role. So in this story, as well as the novel, the women have a direct role, in shaping their outcomes. This is why we call them the first feminists. I loved it - I loved every word, and the nuances that were filled in that made the story more full and vibrant. I spent two weeks in early Persia, in Shushan, but it was well worth the long stay. And I loved that as I had taken the book from the library and the 9 given weeks were due, that I ended up reading it right over Purim. I thought of it as my special homage to the story we re-tell. It was great. There were some additional characters, and a bit of literary license that made the story fuller and hang together, such as the addition of Daniel the Dream Maker, Queen Amestris, the King's Mother, and Hegai, the Cheif's Eunuch. And the ending, that got re-envisioned and re-imagined, well, I just loved it! What did I love most of all about the book? It was the women, Even Summat, Astrologer to the Stars, a woman beloved by two men. I loved both Vashti and Esther, and I came to treasure the relationship between them. They were "sisters" and friends, each a part of the tapestry that was woven. The tale was engaging, whether you know this story or not. I hung on what was to happen, even if I hadn't heard the actual tale a million times. This epic story, and love story changed worlds, and this week it changed mine. Brava India, you did it again. You brought two ancient women and an ancient story to life and gave it breath. You delighted me as you always do. What a thrilling beautiful ride. Whomever shall you pick next?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Helen

    King Ahasurus is also King Artaxerxes. I didn't know that until I went back and read The Book of Esther and the other version from the Apocrypha. It was interesting to read the story from everyone's point of view except the king's and to start it with Vashti & Ahasurus' childhood. We don't know anything about Ahasurus' mother so the author was free to form that whole background as she wished to make an acceptable background for the uncrowning of a queen. MS Edghill wanted to contrast the two quee King Ahasurus is also King Artaxerxes. I didn't know that until I went back and read The Book of Esther and the other version from the Apocrypha. It was interesting to read the story from everyone's point of view except the king's and to start it with Vashti & Ahasurus' childhood. We don't know anything about Ahasurus' mother so the author was free to form that whole background as she wished to make an acceptable background for the uncrowning of a queen. MS Edghill wanted to contrast the two queens and their relationships with the king so putting Vashti in a sisterly relationship with the king made an interesting situation possible. There is nothing in the Bible story to suggest that Vashti left the royal palace so the plot is more or less acceptable, but she cheats at the end. She has the Queen Mother seal the death edict while the king is away but the original story says he sealed it knowingly. This leaves the king with a cleaner character but it is a cheat. She also omits all the killing of the "enemies of the Jews", the people who were ready to act on that edict if it hadn't been canceled. It made me read the original more carefully and realise that there was a much more complex set of plotting going on than we are usually led to believe in the version with just Haman's name attached. Oh, and Esther didn't ask for mercy for Haman's wife and sons, either. The wife had been part of it, egged her husband on and died with him and their ten sons. We always like our heroes and heroines to have acceptable (to us) motives and act honourably but they were people. I really liked the people in MS Edghill's book but I am not convinced that they match very closely with the originals.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Pickstone

    Written with a wry, self-deprecating humour (on the part of the characters) that causes me to wonder if Ms Edghill is, in fact, Jewish. If not, she has caught that humour to perfection. Yes, I know, it's not written as a humorous book - the dialogue is repartee. Absolutely delightful and engaging look at the stories of Esther and Vashti. I highly recommend this book - yet I began Delilah and couldn't get to grips with it. Maybe I was in one of those moods? I will try again on the strength of this Written with a wry, self-deprecating humour (on the part of the characters) that causes me to wonder if Ms Edghill is, in fact, Jewish. If not, she has caught that humour to perfection. Yes, I know, it's not written as a humorous book - the dialogue is repartee. Absolutely delightful and engaging look at the stories of Esther and Vashti. I highly recommend this book - yet I began Delilah and couldn't get to grips with it. Maybe I was in one of those moods? I will try again on the strength of this excellent writing!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    At first, I was not sure how I felt about this book, but five pages in I was hooked. The characters are rich and engaging. I thought I would have to pick between Vashti and Ester, but they are both amazing women. It was also a beautiful peace of time travel, for me, and wonderful to be able to see Persia at that time.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kara

    Esther doesn’t show up for the first 200 pages, but trust me, it’s worth it to get all the backstories and tangled web of connections of everyone who resides in the royal palace. The story starts out with a long flashback about Daniel of lion-den’s fame. Turns out his help is more earthly than divine. (view spoiler)[ His friend drugged the lions by smuggling in a basketful of steaks marinated in poppy juice (hide spoiler)] . Overall Daniel just tends to have a lot of commonsense – but unfortunate Esther doesn’t show up for the first 200 pages, but trust me, it’s worth it to get all the backstories and tangled web of connections of everyone who resides in the royal palace. The story starts out with a long flashback about Daniel of lion-den’s fame. Turns out his help is more earthly than divine. (view spoiler)[ His friend drugged the lions by smuggling in a basketful of steaks marinated in poppy juice (hide spoiler)] . Overall Daniel just tends to have a lot of commonsense – but unfortunately he is often the only one with any sense, which quite often puts him in danger. He has to get out of Babylon after he rescues Susannah from the wicked elders because everyone is mad that they didn’t get to stone her – and they hate him for robbing them of their entertainment, so off to Shushan he goes. Gods spare me the wrath of the “righteous.” A jump to the present and then a jump back in the past again as we get the horrible sad backstory of the head eunuch in charge of the women’s palace which acts as a PSA on Why Sexual Slavery Is Bad. (Seriously, this is why our species isn’t invited to any of the cool intergalactic parties.) Also, this backstory lays some groundwork as to a) how a lot of separate characters are connected in this version and b) just how evil Haman is. And wow is Haman evil. The first time Esther meets him he is literally drowning puppies. Drowning puppies! While making the mama dog watch! He murders his first wife, sells her son into sexual slavery, abuses his second wife, kills his infant daughters – and drowns puppies! Ok, I get it, Haman is evil, I’ll drink to that. But before we get to that we get more backstory, this time on Vashti. Poor Vashti, she is basically raised, first by her mother, than Ahasuerus’ mother, to be a perfectly groomed, empty headed kitten, encouraged to do nothing more than put on pretty clothes and chase butterflies all day. What with all the back stories of various characters and supporting characters and the tangled web of connection between different bible stories and various other ancient history and myth, its 200 pages before we see Esther at all, but honestly, it’s worth it to get the whole panoply Also, Mordechai is a giant donkey butt in this version. (And you can tell him I said that.) There’s no love lost with Esther and Mordechai here – she’s not motivated by love for him, but pure duty and responsibility. One quibble - is everyone in the royal harem having afternoon tansy tea or what? There is a lot of talk about the king’s harem, but never a mention of Ahasuerus having any children outside the confines of the marital bed. Seriously? Everyone is that good at remembering to take their daily silphium? Vashti and Esther come dangerously close to Mary Sue territory (Vashti: unique hair, perfect skin, her-dog-is-a-wolf; Esther: her-pet-is-a-horse, amazing linguistic abilities, beautiful face, etc.) but they both remain solidly human, aware of their own flaws and not making the reader cringe at either bragging or faux-humbleness. This might be a game of queens, but neither are bringing knives to it.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Angela

    I received a free advanced copy of this book from the publisher. Overall, this is a very enjoyable read with plenty of intrigue. I felt the author did a wonderful job of recreating the rich culture and history that envelops this story. The book begins with Daniel's story and is told from his point of view. While it was interesting and had great dynamic between the characters, I'm really not sure it was necessary to the overall story. His importance is easily interpreted by the others' interactio I received a free advanced copy of this book from the publisher. Overall, this is a very enjoyable read with plenty of intrigue. I felt the author did a wonderful job of recreating the rich culture and history that envelops this story. The book begins with Daniel's story and is told from his point of view. While it was interesting and had great dynamic between the characters, I'm really not sure it was necessary to the overall story. His importance is easily interpreted by the others' interactions with him. Since it took so long to even get to Vashti's story, at one point I wondered if there had been a mix-up of book cover and manuscript. I would say that this novel really is Vashti's story. She was a fun character and it was good to see her grow and take charge of her own life, having never been allowed to think for herself. I did find Esther's tumble into love at first sight unbelievable given how intelligent,wise and grounded she is made out to be. I would have liked to see their love develop more in order to feel that emotional connection to the story. I have to agree with another reader that the ending seemed rather rushed and is 'told' rather than unfolded in the way it had been so carefully done throughout the rest of the novel. However, once I got to that point I had to sit there until I had finished it to find out how it ended. I would generally agree with the advertisement that this book would be enjoyed by fans of the Red Tent and The Dovekeepers, although I have to say that it doesn't have nearly the powerful, emotional depth that both of those stories did. On a side note, I kept picturing Vashti looking exactly like Daenarys from Game of Thrones!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Empress5150

    Reading Biblical historical fiction is kinda surreal. You're familiar with the characters from reading Bible stories (Daniel in the Lion's Den, Esther) but are not prepared for where the author, in their imagination, goes with these folks! In all honesty, I'd never much thought about Queen Vashti (the queen who refused to go to the King, thereby paving the way for the eventual selection of Esther as Queen); she has a very bit role in the Bible. I thought the author did a good job of honing in on Reading Biblical historical fiction is kinda surreal. You're familiar with the characters from reading Bible stories (Daniel in the Lion's Den, Esther) but are not prepared for where the author, in their imagination, goes with these folks! In all honesty, I'd never much thought about Queen Vashti (the queen who refused to go to the King, thereby paving the way for the eventual selection of Esther as Queen); she has a very bit role in the Bible. I thought the author did a good job of honing in on her, her Chief Eunuch and using them as a base to tie the rest of the story together (with Daniel hanging around in Persia for good measure; not something that anyone knows for certain one way or the other). And, she really makes you loathe Haman, the evil Prince who sought to eliminate the Jewish people; wife murderer, son-gelder and puppy killer and this BEFORE he decided to kill the Jewish people! This was a fun read if a bit rushed at the end (the most important part, where Esther saves the Jewish people from annihilation) and perhaps a bit la la lovey dovey vis a vis Esther and the King. But, hey. Who doesn't like a good love story?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Genna

    Loved it. Having read three or four Queen Esther novels and enjoyed them I was pleasantly surprised to read a story that puts Vashti in a better light. And I say better, not particularly a "good" light, so it's not unrealistic. Personally, I have always found the classic villain-ization of Queen Vashti and exalt Queen Esther to this (I find) impossibly modest, pious woman. Another thing I'd like to mention is that I was skeptical about the different narratives at the beginning of the book but I Loved it. Having read three or four Queen Esther novels and enjoyed them I was pleasantly surprised to read a story that puts Vashti in a better light. And I say better, not particularly a "good" light, so it's not unrealistic. Personally, I have always found the classic villain-ization of Queen Vashti and exalt Queen Esther to this (I find) impossibly modest, pious woman. Another thing I'd like to mention is that I was skeptical about the different narratives at the beginning of the book but I found that it was actually a good story telling technique that I appreciated at the end. So. If a different perspective on a female figure in religious history is something you'd be offended by I wouldn't recommend this for you. However, if you appreciate a fresh, realistic take on an interesting moment in history with equally interesting women you should definitely read this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    This novel is based loosely on the book of Ester and I liked the somewhat modern twist, at least to the dialogue and perhaps the relationships of the characters. I did start to lose interest when the story got to the selection of the new queen as that seemed to drag. After I finished the story, I re-read the book of Ester to do some comparison and, according to my version of the Bible, there were several significant differences in the story that changed my opinion of some of the characters. 1. E This novel is based loosely on the book of Ester and I liked the somewhat modern twist, at least to the dialogue and perhaps the relationships of the characters. I did start to lose interest when the story got to the selection of the new queen as that seemed to drag. After I finished the story, I re-read the book of Ester to do some comparison and, according to my version of the Bible, there were several significant differences in the story that changed my opinion of some of the characters. 1. Ester did not ask that Haman's family be put in the king's protection. In fact, she had all 10 of his sons killed. 2. Vashti did not run off with her eunuch lover. She actually became queen again after Ester died. 3. Ester kept her identity as a Jew a secret until her people were threatened with destruction. 4. The king himself sealed the order for the death of the Jews and only rescinded it when he realized it included his wife.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Amber

    I received a copy of this book through Goodreads' First Reads program. I really enjoyed this take on the tale of Esther. The story is told from the differing viewpoints of of the main characters (though we don't actually hear from Ahasuerus). The court of the King of Kings comes to life and it is every bit as dangerous and intrigue-ridden as the courts in George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. I like that near equal attention is focused on both Vashti and Esther. I would place this soli I received a copy of this book through Goodreads' First Reads program. I really enjoyed this take on the tale of Esther. The story is told from the differing viewpoints of of the main characters (though we don't actually hear from Ahasuerus). The court of the King of Kings comes to life and it is every bit as dangerous and intrigue-ridden as the courts in George RR Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series. I like that near equal attention is focused on both Vashti and Esther. I would place this solidly in the historical fiction category, rather than religious fiction. There happened to be different deities mentioned in the story, but religion was not the primary focus of the story. The characters were the focus, and presented as humans, with all their faults and foibles. An engaging read and fresh look at two women who held the title of Queen of Queens.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I was super excited when I saw this book in the library. One year as a child in costume at a Purim festival I announced that I was Vashti (not Esther). That was just to be different, rather than out of any knowledge of Vashti, but I have always wondered about the queen who said NO. Despite the title, Vashti doesn't show up until after page 100 and Esther not until later yet. India Edghill builds the society and the story first and the queens second. In this version, Vashti is a spoiled young girl I was super excited when I saw this book in the library. One year as a child in costume at a Purim festival I announced that I was Vashti (not Esther). That was just to be different, rather than out of any knowledge of Vashti, but I have always wondered about the queen who said NO. Despite the title, Vashti doesn't show up until after page 100 and Esther not until later yet. India Edghill builds the society and the story first and the queens second. In this version, Vashti is a spoiled young girl who becomes queen without understanding what it means and Esther is an educated young woman who would rather run her family's farm when her father dies than move to Shusan with her older cousing Mordecai. Edghill's Vashti doesn't match my preconception, but it was a very good read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sivananthi T

    This was a fabulous re-telling of the story of Esther, one of the most amazing queens of the Old Testament, (so amazing that I almost thought that Esther would be a very cool name to have). it tells of Esther's love for Ahaseurus, his ex-queen Vashti who selects her to be queen. It is a novel, which talk of women's friendship, where even love of a man can divide. It also speaks of Esther who saved the Jews through her wisdom and her ability to collaborate and build allies. Still a fascinating st This was a fabulous re-telling of the story of Esther, one of the most amazing queens of the Old Testament, (so amazing that I almost thought that Esther would be a very cool name to have). it tells of Esther's love for Ahaseurus, his ex-queen Vashti who selects her to be queen. It is a novel, which talk of women's friendship, where even love of a man can divide. It also speaks of Esther who saved the Jews through her wisdom and her ability to collaborate and build allies. Still a fascinating story.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robbi Leah Freeman

    I received a book for my honest review. Honestly, I loved this book. The characters were well written, my favorites in this book Vashti and The Chief Eunuch Hegai. The story had a Game of Thrones Feel and I have been missing those books lately. I loved everything about this book so why.... 4 instead of 5 because I like to learn from historical fiction and many writers do keep the story as close to the truth as possible, maybe not in daily words and actions, but the base of the story true. The tho I received a book for my honest review. Honestly, I loved this book. The characters were well written, my favorites in this book Vashti and The Chief Eunuch Hegai. The story had a Game of Thrones Feel and I have been missing those books lately. I loved everything about this book so why.... 4 instead of 5 because I like to learn from historical fiction and many writers do keep the story as close to the truth as possible, maybe not in daily words and actions, but the base of the story true. The thought that Daniel the Lion guy in the Bible was thinking he was gay caused me to

  17. 4 out of 5

    Barb

    A solid 3.5 really. I was surprised at how much this book drew me in. Nice little "game of thrones" fix with far fewer locations or characters to figure out. I also enjoyed the touchstone references to the Old Testament. If you liked Red Tent you'd definitely enjoy this book. A solid 3.5 really. I was surprised at how much this book drew me in. Nice little "game of thrones" fix with far fewer locations or characters to figure out. I also enjoyed the touchstone references to the Old Testament. If you liked Red Tent you'd definitely enjoy this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bobi

    I wasn't so sure I would like this when the book began. However, I decided to give it my norm of 50 pages and by then, I was enjoying it. I ended up liking it more than my initial reaction led me to believe I would. I wasn't so sure I would like this when the book began. However, I decided to give it my norm of 50 pages and by then, I was enjoying it. I ended up liking it more than my initial reaction led me to believe I would.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura Gill

    A good book until the end, which felt very rushed. Edghill let the excerpts from the Old Testament do the talking, instead of her narrators; that cheapened the tale for me.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Tarr

    Another great historical fiction book. It took me a few chapters to get into this one but after that I couldn't put it down. The story of Esther and Vashti, unforgettable characters. Another great historical fiction book. It took me a few chapters to get into this one but after that I couldn't put it down. The story of Esther and Vashti, unforgettable characters.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Tim Popko

    Extensive character development is a mainstay feature of this book, making it a great novel based on a portion of the Bible not eagerly-quoted or often remembered. It retells the story of Vashti, who famously refused to walk naked before her husband Ahasuerus and his party of nobles, and with that lost her position as queen, later to be filled by Esther. In Game of Queens, however, Vashti and Ahasuerus are not looked at in a simple narrative in the least. Rather than the position of a virtuous an Extensive character development is a mainstay feature of this book, making it a great novel based on a portion of the Bible not eagerly-quoted or often remembered. It retells the story of Vashti, who famously refused to walk naked before her husband Ahasuerus and his party of nobles, and with that lost her position as queen, later to be filled by Esther. In Game of Queens, however, Vashti and Ahasuerus are not looked at in a simple narrative in the least. Rather than the position of a virtuous and respected queen refusing the demands of an over-entitled drunken king, Vashti's character is explored best as that of a child-queen, one who was with Ahasuerus through childhood, and frolicked and pranked with him as one would expect a brother-sister to do. Through that lens, and the generosity and exceptional kindness Ahasuerus exhibited to Vashti, one gains a softer, and more endearing romantic story. Interwoven in the story is of course, an obligatory nod to the relationship between the Persian kings and their Jewish citizens. Queen Esther, by her cleverness and own Jewish family connections, foils a plot to execute the Jews in the Kingdom, giving the "Game of Queens" title a very cheesy ending (ie. Vashti lost her crown, but the King still loved her and let her stay in the castle, Esther was a better queen anyway, and since she saved all the Jews in the world from death and destruction, they all lived happily ever after). Indeed, in this story, the Queens bring love and affection to a King who is portrayed as hapless, unthinking, and hamstrung by royal decrees and bureacrats and by his conniving mother Amestris. One hoping for a fantasy novel of scheming and royal backbiting may be dissappointed in this respect. The heroes are, in good Bible fashion, very good people, and love and virtue triumphs in the end. The language flows softly, and the loving between Hegai and Vashti, Esther and Ahasuerus makes this a romantic, feel-good story. I will read more in this genre, although Jill Eileen Smith, Red Tent, and others most certainly fit the bill.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I was initially interested in this because of my love for the movie One Night With the King, about Esther. I wanted to see how a novelist would treat the story. And this was good. It took a very long time to get started, though. Esther doesn't even enter the story until about halfway through. Before that, our narrators are Daniel (yes, the Daniel who survived being eaten by lions) and Hegai, the Chief Eunuch of the King's household. It gets more interesting when Vashti becomes a narrator, but it I was initially interested in this because of my love for the movie One Night With the King, about Esther. I wanted to see how a novelist would treat the story. And this was good. It took a very long time to get started, though. Esther doesn't even enter the story until about halfway through. Before that, our narrators are Daniel (yes, the Daniel who survived being eaten by lions) and Hegai, the Chief Eunuch of the King's household. It gets more interesting when Vashti becomes a narrator, but it was still slow until we got more to Esther's story. Maybe that's simply because that's what I wanted to read the most. I did end up liking the characters quite a bit, especially Vashti. Esther is clever and head-strong, but Vashti was raised as an empty-headed, vain princess who eventually decided she wanted to be more than that. And it was sweet to watch her journey. And of course, I enjoyed Esther. I was a bit disappointed with the love story, such as it is. As the author admits in the beginning, it's kind of hard to make Ahasuerus into a respectable character when he was doing all of these stupid things in the meantime. But Esther's draw toward him seemed...awkward. Forced. I wish that had been handled a little better, but I realize the source material kind of limits what can be done. Anyway, it was enjoyable to read; it just took a long time to get going.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lesley

    There are 2 unresolved questions at the heart of the Purim story: 1) What happened to Queen Vashti, after she refused her husband's demand to present herself at the king's banquet? 2) How could pinch hitter Queen Esther love and live happily ever after with a king who had callously condemned an entire people to genocide, seemingly on a whim? India Edghill attempts to resolve these plot points with backstories for her 3 narrators: Vashti, Esther, and chief eunuch Hegai. She also provides a conveni There are 2 unresolved questions at the heart of the Purim story: 1) What happened to Queen Vashti, after she refused her husband's demand to present herself at the king's banquet? 2) How could pinch hitter Queen Esther love and live happily ever after with a king who had callously condemned an entire people to genocide, seemingly on a whim? India Edghill attempts to resolve these plot points with backstories for her 3 narrators: Vashti, Esther, and chief eunuch Hegai. She also provides a convenient villainess in King Achhasverus's scheming mother, who turns out to be in cahoots with Haman. While Edghill's additions make the idyllic ending slightly more plausible, she is not the strongest storyteller, and the characters do not come alive as much as one would hope. While I sympathized with Vashti as a precocious and willful child bride, her relationship with Achhasverus never really pops; his underdeveloped character makes it tough to believe that the independent Esther would fall madly in love with him at first sight. Mordecai is a prudish patriarch who curbs Esther's proto-feminist longings; his forcing her to enter the royal sex-and-beauty contest is thus jarringly out of character. Esther enters the story too late to have much impact; her friendship with Vashti is believable, but the idea that a horse loving, mathematically inclined scholar and linguist would meekly succumb to queenly domesticity reminds one of a 50s' teen romance novel. Only Hegai, a shadowy puppetmaster in the Biblical tale, emerges with anything like a believable character arc. The tragic events leading to his position as chief eunuch speak poignantly to the lingering effects of trauma, and the difficulty of letting go of caustic anger and revenge.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shira Reiss

    This was a book selected for my book group. It is in the fashion of the other historical Biblical books written such as “The Red Tent”. The author explained in the epilogue about the details of her research and how there were parts of the Biblical Esther story that had gaps and therefore, she could “fill in the blanks” with her own fantasy. She explained which parts she had changed as well. The story was well written, had good character development and it was entertaining. In order to fully enj This was a book selected for my book group. It is in the fashion of the other historical Biblical books written such as “The Red Tent”. The author explained in the epilogue about the details of her research and how there were parts of the Biblical Esther story that had gaps and therefore, she could “fill in the blanks” with her own fantasy. She explained which parts she had changed as well. The story was well written, had good character development and it was entertaining. In order to fully enjoy the story, I had to let go of my own preconceived notions about the characters and just allow myself to enjoy Ms. Edgehill’s fantasy. Even though I enjoyed her story, I still prefer my own fantasy about the Biblical Esther!!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Pretty good, I wished for more from Ester after the build up. Fun retelling and I liked what she did with Daniel. Also, (bit of a spoiler coming)... As always I dislike love at first sight and the depth of love that is so unrealistic.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I liked the way the Biblical stories were inserted into a plausible depiction of Persian life. Esther and Vashti were interesting women and I appreciated how the author dealt with the king's hero/jerk status. It was one of the better Biblical fiction stories I've read. I liked the way the Biblical stories were inserted into a plausible depiction of Persian life. Esther and Vashti were interesting women and I appreciated how the author dealt with the king's hero/jerk status. It was one of the better Biblical fiction stories I've read.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Yaël

    A fun reading of Esther and Vashti.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Really wonderful Biblical Historical Fiction

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Powerful and entertaining story of a well-known biblical character and her lesser-known predecessor. Retells events realistically, making the reader question the "original" version. Powerful and entertaining story of a well-known biblical character and her lesser-known predecessor. Retells events realistically, making the reader question the "original" version.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Bernstein

    I've read several novels based on the Book of Esther, and this was by far my favorite. This book brings in the story of Daniel, which, since it's not a part of the Jewish ritual cycle, I'm less familiar with. I've heard of the stories, but never actually explored them or read the text, so it was fun to really imagine what they might have been about. The back stories of Hegai, Vashti, and Esther are wonderfully imagined. Hegai's personal vendetta against Haman is a great addition to the story. Va I've read several novels based on the Book of Esther, and this was by far my favorite. This book brings in the story of Daniel, which, since it's not a part of the Jewish ritual cycle, I'm less familiar with. I've heard of the stories, but never actually explored them or read the text, so it was fun to really imagine what they might have been about. The back stories of Hegai, Vashti, and Esther are wonderfully imagined. Hegai's personal vendetta against Haman is a great addition to the story. Vashti is a full character in her own right, neither the evil villainess of tradition, nor the feminist heroine so many make her out to be today. Vashti and Esther work together to make things happen the way they must. Fantastic! My only critique is that the end comes too condensed and is told through recollections told to the main characters. I would have liked the middle and end of the Book of Esther to have been as fully developed as the early chapters.

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