Book Review: A.D. 30 by Ted Dekker

Merry (almost) Christmas everyone!  Since Christmas is nearly here, I thought I’d give a nod to the holiday around the corner by sharing my review of a novel that takes a look at the life and teachings of Jesus (the reason for the season, yes?) from a different perspective.  It seemed thematically appropriate.  Plus, if you still have last minute Christmas shopping ahead of you (or are looking for some post-Christmas entertainment for yourself), this fascinating historical novel could be just the thing.  Without further ado…

Title: A.D. 30
Author: Ted Dekker
Publisher: Center Street (Hachette Book Group)
Genre: Biblical fiction
Published: 2014

Book Description (from Publisher Center Street):

A sweeping epic set in the harsh deserts of Arabia and ancient Palestine.

A war that rages between kingdoms on the earth and in the heart.

The harrowing journey of the woman at the center of it all.

Step back in time to the year of our Lord…A.D. 30.

The outcast daughter of one of the most powerful Bedouin sheikhs in Arabia, Maviah is called on to protect the very people who rejected her. When their enemies launch a sudden attack with devastating consequences, Maviah escapes with the help of two of her father’s warriors–Saba who speaks more with his sword than his voice and Judah, a Jew who comes from a tribe that can read the stars. Their journey will be fraught with terrible danger. If they can survive the vast forbidding sands of a desert that is deadly to most, they will reach a brutal world subjugated by kings and emperors. There Maviah must secure an unlikely alliance with King Herod of the Jews.

But Maviah’s path leads her unexpectedly to another man. An enigmatic teacher who speaks of a way in this life which offers greater power than any kingdom. His name is Yeshua, and his words turn everything known on its head. Though following him may present even greater danger, his may be the only way for Maviah to save her people–and herself.

My Thoughts:

Ted Dekker’s latest book, A.D. 30, is a not-to-be missed tale of epic adventure, romance, political intrigue, and one woman’s life-altering encounter with Jesus, or as He’s called in this novel, Yeshua.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of future books in this series.  I’m also hoping to hear of it being made into a movie so I can see it on the big screen.  Just saying.  The visuals would be absolutely breathtaking.  Check out the book trailer and you’ll get an idea for what I mean.

But, getting back to the book….

I think I’m a little in awe of the research that must have gone into the writing of this book.  Dekker paints the ancient world in exquisite detail, using specific sights, sounds, feelings, and cultural details to put the reader right there with his characters.  From the multi-sensory experience of a desert sandstorm to a glimpse of the opulence of Herod’s palace, not that far from the poverty in Nazareth, this book is a real eye-opener.

I loved Maviah’s viewpoint.  She’s not an insider.  In many ways – as a woman, a foreigner, and an outcast even to her own people – she’s on the outside looking in, but what she sees and hears on her journey has a huge impact on her life.  And seeing and hearing it through her eyes and ears, those of someone encountering Jesus in person and for the first time, the old familiar stories and teachings are made fresh again.

Lest I leave you with the impression that this book is all about Jesus, I should clarify.  It’s not.  He actually plays a relatively small (pagewise anyway) though pivotal part in this book.  Rather, this is primarily the story of Maviah, a woman accustomed to embracing the shame heaped upon her by others, as she begins to step into a new role and finds the strength and faith to face the myriad political and physical challenges that stand between her and her goals.

But will she reach those goals?  Can she restore her father’s honor and avenge her son’s death?  You’ll just have to read this book to find out… and maybe one or two more in the series.  No spoilers here!  :)

Thank you to the folks at Shelton Interactive and Center Street for providing me with an electronic copy of this book via NetGalley for review purposes.  This review represents my own honest opinion.

Update, 10/13/15: There is now an abridged version of this novel available, which I have also reviewed. My review of the abridged edition explores the differences between the two, in the interest of helping readers decide which edition they might prefer.

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