Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.
A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)
Though Maviah is the daughter of a powerful Bedouin sheikh, she’s been an enslaved outcast for most of her life. However, when her people are viciously attacked, it’s up to her to go seek an alliance with the ruler of Galilee, Herod the Tetrarch. But Maviah’s dangerous task leads her into the path of a compassionate teacher and mystifying mystic, Yeshua, and that encounter could change everything in A.D. 30 by author Ted Dekker.
While this novel has been on my radar for years, it didn’t make it onto my mental TBR list until I found out what perspective the story comes from. That of an Arab heroine who may even be considered a queen. Her perilous journey through desert sands with two warrior allies, and the epic scope of the novel (including but beyond the confines of a simple “Jesus” tale), romanced me as I read.
I must admit that, oftentimes, in historical/biblical stories that have a Gospel theme or thread where Jesus appears, his character and scenes are usually what I like least about the story. Perhaps it’s that, in the necessary effort to respect a Son of God portrayal, his character becomes clichéd in fiction.
It’s as if, because he’s a sinless man, he must also come off as a perfect guy. A guy whose weirdness is even perfect. The main character will likely know the Jesus character is looking right into his/her soul the first time he/she locks eyes with him, and he’ll probably never have to scratch an inch through his beard or clear a tickle in his throat or recover after telling a joke that falls flat—because he’s the Jesus character. Yeshua didn’t really break out of the cliché for me in this novel.
And I’m glad I didn’t read the author’s introduction until after I read the story. I’d say the intro does a little too much prompting and explaining before letting the story unfold and speak for itself.
Yet, besides the intrigue and harrowing aspects of this poignantly rendered epic, what made it an amazing read for me was the space it gave me to wrestle with mysteries, as the Way is indeed a mysterious one. And I couldn’t have predicted every turn in Maviah’s journey, which is quite a plus.
I’m looking forward to moving right on to A.D. 33.