Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Serpent and the Staff by Barbara Wood

Ugarit, Syria, 1450 B.C.E. Eighteen-year-old Leah, the eldest daughter of a wealthy winemaker, is past the traditional age of betrothal. Vowed to wed the wealthy but cruel shipbuilder Jotham, Leah declines his offer of marriage after discovering that he and his family suffer from “the falling sickness.” Enraged by her refusal and his ruined reputation, he blackmails Leah’s father, a punishment forgiven only by offering Leah’s hand in marriage. With no more options for another suitor and no male heir for her family, Leah must seek out the cure for Jotham’s sickness or her family will face permanent ruin.

During her quest Leah begins to burn with desire for Daveed, the handsome household scribe whose culture forbids their union. Daveed has been called by the gods to restore the Brotherhood, an elite fraternity of guardians at the great Library of Ugarit, rumored to contain the secret symbol of immortality within its ancient archives. If his plan succeeds, it may also save Leah’s family from disaster. But even Daveed and Leah cannot fathom the extent of Jotham’s sinister schemes to make Leah his bride once and for all.

With rich historical detail, The Serpent and the Staff is a sweeping tale of love, betrayal, and how one family's faith can overcome the obstacles that life has in store for them.

Ancient history never ceases to fascinate me and this novel set in 15th century B.C. in Syria is no exception. At the heart of the tale is a love story between Daveed and Leahd, and a spurned potential spouse who unleashes the full extent of his wrath upon Leah and her father. The revenge lasts for years, ultimately devastating Leah's family, financially and otherwise. It is the slow degradation of family life that kept me turning the pages. Just when I thought matters could not possibly become worse, BAM! They did! The characters are so real, they leap off the pages, stirring emotions with each turn of the page. This is one unforgettable story! Compelling and rich, told in a clean, easy style of writing. Highly recommended!  

Thank you to the author and publisher. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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