Iscariot by Tosca Lee

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.

Iscariot by Tosca Lee

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Judas Iscariot. A name that’s become legendary in its link to perdition. The man notorious for committing the ultimate betrayal by essentially putting a price on the life of Christ. The infamous disciple tells his side of the story in Iscariot by author Tosca Lee.

This book has been on my radar for more than four years, I’d say. I knew it would be a dark tale meant to give a different angle on a figure widely viewed as villainous. The novel’s opening is haunting in its genius, and I was drawn through the thoughtfully rendered chapters that present Judas as a son. A brother. A husband. A father. A friend. A man with affection, grief, and sacred aspirations.

I always enjoy this author’s lyrical style, and this novel pulsates with social, political, and religious unrest and the gravity of Judas’s dilemmas. Yet, the material of the Gospels is a lot to cover, and it might have taken another book or two to really flesh more of that material out. Many of the events had a cursory, choppy feel to me, and I had some trouble wading through as the story’s flow seemed to fall into a repetitive mental and emotional cycle.

With so many characters coming into play, I couldn’t get more than a surface feel for most of them. This became especially difficult for me in regards to Jesus and His circle. I didn’t get a deep or convincing enough picture of their relationships to make their group seem more than cultish. And though Judas often mentions his love for and friendship with Jesus, I didn’t see friendship so much as a follower’s hero-worship toward someone who constantly baffles and frustrates him.

Still, this novel brings much for contemplation, worth the read for those with knowledge of the ancient story behind this fictional one.


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