Monday, May 17, 2010

Sarah: Women of Genesis

Take a few modern students of the ancient near east, pluck them down in the middle east of a few thousand years ago, and you will end up with the feel of Sarah. Though the characters seem to know what things are supposed to be like in the times of the early old testament, they still feel like 21st century characters. They also sound just like some of Card's other characters. (Abraham could easily substitute for Ender or Alvin Maker in Card's popular series, and nobody would bat an eyelash.)

The story begins with Sarah as a young girl and ends with Abraham and Isaac leaving her (likely for the 'sacrifice' of Isaac. In between, the author generally sticks to the scriptural account of Abraham's life, though he freely makes up additional facts to fit the narrative. (For example, Sarah in the this novel is the sister of Lot's wife.) He occasionally gives "scientific" explanations for biblical miracles, but still leaves a roll for God's intervention.

The fictional characterizations help bring alive some of the well known old testament stories. Lot's family is in particular well developed. This helps to enrich the vibrancy of hte destruction of Sodom and Gomorra. (While here, Lot's wife is "destroyed", rather than simply turning in to a pillar of salt, we can clearly see why she would have wanted to "look back".)

Overall, while the main characters are fairly shallow, the storytelling helps to bring ancient characters up to the modern age. It does not attempt to be wholly historically (or biblically) accurate, but does try to honestly give a modern spin to the life of Abraham's wife.

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