Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel

Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel

3.9 14
by Ginger Garrett
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Jezebel had to choose: The gods of her homeland or the God of the land she ruled. The love of her husband or the revenge she craved. Her decision could bring her all she desired … or destroy her for eternity.
See more details below

Overview

Jezebel had to choose: The gods of her homeland or the God of the land she ruled. The love of her husband or the revenge she craved. Her decision could bring her all she desired … or destroy her for eternity.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The name Jezebel has long been associated with promiscuous women and false prophets. In the Bible, and here, Jezebel, the daughter of the King of Tyre, is married off as a political maneuver to King Ahab, and she converts him from Judaism to paganism. But the Prophet Elijah challenges the woman and her Phoenician gods. Seeking a miracle, Ahab's people vow allegiance to Elijah's God, inciting Jezebel to revenge. Garrett's welcome follow-up to Desired: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah offers a captivating portrait of a more human and complex woman. VERDICT This compelling and suspenseful revisionist character study makes an excellent choice for aficionados of Francine Rivers.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781434705143
Publisher:
David C Cook
Publication date:
05/01/2013
Series:
Lost Loves of the Bible
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
25,777
File size:
8 MB

Read an Excerpt

REIGN

The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel


By Ginger Garrett

David C. Cook

Copyright © 2013 Ginger Garrett
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4347-0514-3



CHAPTER 1

Spring, Four Years Later 882 B.C.

Ahab

A lonely howl broke through the muffled noises, the grunts and clatter as twenty men ate their dinner. Prince Ahab looked up from his bowl, over the heads of the men sitting opposite him around the fire. In the distance he saw its eyes, caught in the moon's light, watching him. It was only a feral dog.

Ahab couldn't eat anyway. He set the metal bowl down between his legs with a grunt. Obadiah, his father's administrator, was sitting on his left and glanced down at the bowl, then quickly away. Obadiah had planned just enough rations to get them into Phoenicia tomorrow, but he had counted on every man in the party having an appetite. Neither Obadiah nor Ahab ate much, though. Neither had wanted to go on this trip, and neither had to put their feelings into words. They had known each other since boyhood, and Ahab knew Obadiah dreaded the trip just as much as he did. Ahab wondered if this was what it felt like to be a prisoner of war, forced to march to a frightening, foreign destination. He wondered what she was thinking tonight, his intended bride; did she feel the same?

Tired of himself and this dread, Ahab picked up the bowl and walked into the darkness. The dog stood its ground, baring teeth as hair rose along its back. Ahab set the bowl down and backed away, startled when a litter of puppies burst from the undergrowth and rushed to the bowl before their mother. The dog's luminous eyes met Ahab's. They were too thin, those little ones. They had needed that meal badly. He hadn't known she had starving puppies to feed. It frightened him. Even if he did something good, it might have unexpected impact. Obeying his father was honorable, but who knew what might come from it.

It's what the old prophet Elijah had warned him about.

Obadiah stood and walked out to Ahab. Obadiah hadn't touched his own dinner either and, seeing the dogs, turned on his heel, coming back with his food seconds later. He seemed shocked to see the stark outline of ribs along the puppies' bodies. Obadiah knew only about life's cruelty from the many scrolls he read and the stories he'd heard. Though they were about the same age, at seventeen summers, Ahab had already killed more men than Obadiah had ever met. The differences between them were stark.

Obadiah was a Hebrew, a sinewy youth with bright green eyes and curly brown hair that he combed daily. He kept his robes clean and his face washed, although there were perpetual dark stains on his fingers and cuticles from the inkpots he used to keep the records. His speech was refined, each word well chosen, so that he was often mistaken for the son of the noble, instead of the son of a prostitute.

Ahab was not so refined. No one had ever mistaken him for a noble's son, even though he was a prince. He looked like what he was: the son of a legendary murderer, King Omri. His mother had been an Egyptian, and his father, Omri, was a mercenary soldier of unknown breeding. Omri had taken part in a coup and won the crown of Israel. Neither Ahab nor Omri were Hebrew, though, and neither looked like royalty. Ahab had met eight kings in his life, when his father was hired to fight for them, and he knew that traditional princes put attention and effort into their appearance. But Ahab had been raised in military tents, encampments near whatever battlefield his father was on that season. He wore his coarse black hair long, like military men, keeping it pulled back and out of reach. He had dark eyes that startled people with their intensity, just as his father's did. He knew his eyes gave the wrong impression, though. He was nothing like his father, not so fierce and cold. He did not like to watch men die.

He spoke very little around his father or around any older man. When he did speak, he had no distinct accent. He didn't move his hands when he spoke, an old habit from the battlefield that helped him avoid attention, which added to the intensity others thought they saw in him. He had been too young to go into battle that first year his father had forced him along and had tried to keep very still as the arrows shrieked through the air outside his tent. The habit of stillness stuck.

Ahab and Obadiah watched the puppies eat, and then the mother stuck her muzzle into each bowl, licking the sides clean. She looked up at the men, then slunk back into the night, her brood following.

Obadiah used his foot to turn over a rock on the ground. A fat glistening spider scurried out, and Obadiah took a step back. Ahab crushed it with his sandal. Obadiah walked back to the fire, and Ahab looked at the dark horizon to the north. Tomorrow he would be in Phoenicia.

In two days he would meet his bride.


Obadiah

Despite everything he had read, the road to Phoenicia was surprisingly ill kept. For all their legendary knowledge, all their wealth and prestige, Phoenicians kept terrible roads. Obadiah worried that the stories he had read about the Phoenician empire might have been exaggerated. Roads this poor couldn't lead to one of the wealthiest kingdoms on earth. The scouts had to move stones all morning to save the hooves of the animals. Tall green grasses sprouted in clumps right in the middle of the road. The land was infested too. Gnats flew into everyone's eyes, even those of the donkeys and horses, and mosquitoes had left hot red welts on everyone's arms and calves. Obadiah would not say it to any of the men he traveled with, but sleeping inside the Phoenician palace would offer him relief. Even if that palace symbolized the spiritual suicide of his own home, Israel.

Obadiah sighed as the donkey plodded steadily along. He understood the appeal of this marriage, at least when he put it into writing, in the Annals of the King. Phoenicians wanted trade with the southern kingdoms, including Israel and even Egypt. Israel wanted to sell crops and gain access to the greatest maritime fleet in the world. Phoenicians were legendary sailors and boasted the busiest ports with the best goods, but they couldn't grow their own food. Their land, Obadiah had once read, was unsuitable. He understood the words in a new way now, patting his donkey as she tripped over another rock.

Though exhausted from lack of food and poor sleep, he kept careful watch all morning, right past the noon hour, lest one of the younger servants or women suffer injury from a stumbling beast. The official wedding party consisted of twenty men, including the king, Omri; his son, Ahab; and eight of his military officials. The other ten men were elders who could conduct private meetings during the visit and arrange the first series of trades. Obadiah, of course, didn't count himself in the twenty. He offered neither advice nor assistance. As administrator, he was nothing more than an official scribe, and he hardly felt like a man in this elite company. Split between this band of men was a traveling army, half to ride ahead and half to follow behind. He prayed they would not need the security, but when the princess returned with them, it would be a wise precaution.

Four women traveled with them too, daughters of the elders; they would serve as maids for the new princess. They would help her acclimate more quickly and save Ahab from having to explain everything about her new home. One of the women was Mirra. Just thinking that name made his heart tense. He wished Ahab would keep better watch over her, so he would not have to see her face. But Ahab rode near the front with his father, and neither of them ever glanced back. Obadiah reached up occasionally and touched the scar on his cheek. Amon, Mirra's father, had given it to him years ago, when Obadiah was running messages for the court. He had brought a message to Amon, but when he saw Mirra for the first time, he lost all ability to speak. Since he had no ability back then to read or write, the message was carried by mouth. Seeing him mute, Amon backhanded him, striking him with his fat signet ring. Mirra hid behind the folds of her father's robe, her face twisted in sorrow. She had nodded to Obadiah, just once, and lifted the sleeve of her own robe. She was covered in welts. Obadiah grew to love his scar almost as much as he loved her. He had taken her father's fury and spared her one welt.

The wedding party was finally on the last portion of the long march up toward the gates of Sidon, the jewel of Phoenicia, so near the sea that they could smell the sharp tang of brine. The sky darkened, but sunset was hours away. A storm was building. The air took on a heavy, sweet smell; the trees that grew with thatched trunks began waving their fronds in the wind. Where stones had littered the path this morning, he now saw broken shells lining the road. A few of the women stopped and picked them up, clearly delighted. This was a new world to them, too. Mirra did not get down from her donkey. Her father, ruler of Samaria and the richest man in Israel, had already given her every treasure imaginable. But she looked bored. Obadiah knew that serving another woman would be hard for Mirra, pampered daughter of Amon, who was second only to King Omri and his son, Prince Ahab. Obadiah prayed that Jezebel would never hit her.

He scanned the edges of the path as the women turned the shells over and over in their hands. They were surrounded by impassable hills, which he had read should keep them safe from attack, but he had an uneasy feeling. He didn't know how to respond to it, except to look for predators lurking behind the trees. He glanced ahead. The last of the men was still visible, but Obadiah would have to hurry the women along.

He turned to call to them. Mirra was gone. Her donkey had wandered toward a clump of grass and nudged it with his nose, testing it for flavor, perhaps.

Obadiah's heart lurched into his throat.

He saw her walking toward a cave about twenty yards from the path, its black mouth yawning wide. He motioned for the women to remount and join the men. He wanted them with men who knew how to handle a sword. Then he jumped from his donkey and went after Mirra. She had disappeared inside the cave.

He hesitated at the edge of its darkness. A strange sound came from deep within. Inside, he saw Mirra strain her neck in either direction, trying to discern where the sound came from. She did not look surprised to see him entering the cave. Perhaps the wealthy were never surprised to see servants following just behind. But he did not enter the cave because he was a servant. Silent, Obadiah held his hand out to Mirra, willing himself not to tremble at her touch.

She looked at his hand, not moving, and their eyes met. He broke the gaze first, studying the little pool of water that lapped at her feet, illuminated by the light breaking in from above. The only other sound was the steady rasps of his breathing. Obadiah thought he sounded like a brute animal in the darkness. He hoped he did not frighten her.

"I'm not running away," she said. Obadiah looked at her again. She frowned at him, standing there with his hand outstretched. He felt foolish. Other men knew how to command a woman.

"I just wanted a moment to myself," she said, "a moment of freedom, I suppose. But what could you know about freedom? You're a servant."

The wounds her words inflicted were exquisite. Obadiah's chest burned with the delight of being spoken to, of seeing her mouth form words meant for him alone. If only she had said his name! But she did not know it. She never paid him any attention when she came to court. He had stayed hidden like a good, and invisible, servant, and she had kept her eyes downcast whenever her father presented her to Omri. He doubted she even remembered that day so long ago when he had suffered for her.

She had no idea how beautiful he found her, with her long black hair, unbraided and loose tonight. Her mother was not here to force her to wear it up. She complained to the other girls when she thought no one listened, saying such long hair was heavy and the tight braids gave her headaches. He didn't mean to eavesdrop, but a small traveling party meant he heard a good bit more than he ever had before. Women were full of complaints and completely blind to their own allure—Mirra especially, with her generous pink mouth that he always fantasized was bruised from his kisses. He dreamed of resting a finger against it, of knowing if it was as soft as he imagined.

She turned to move deeper into the darkness. "I heard something."

The air whipping into the mouth of the cave turned cold. It lashed at his calves, picking up the edge of his robe. A great shadow must have passed across the sun at that moment, because the cave turned dark, darker than when they had entered. His flesh crawled for no reason he could explain.

"We have to go back, Mirra. Right now."

She turned her head back to him, a sly grin on her face. "You know my name. Do you belong to my father?"

Obadiah looked at the ground, embarrassed.

Mirra shook her head and stepped away from him again, her foot landing on something that crunched and shifted under her weight. She bent to inspect the material, and Obadiah rushed forward, grabbing her arm. It was a strange instinct. She glared at him, at the insult of a servant's touch.

Obadiah dropped her arm and bent his head.

The floor of the cave was covered in soft, chalky stones and twigs, thousands of little hollow pieces that snapped and disintegrated beneath their feet into fine dust. Obadiah tested his growing dread by taking a few more steps.

Mirra bent down to pick one up and hold it to the light. Fear made his stomach tight and cold. He reached down too, to pick up a tiny flint no bigger than the tip of his finger. It split in two between his thumb and forefinger, a tiny bit of marrow smearing across his fingertip.

"Birds?" she asked. She looked above her for signs of bats. She wrapped her arms around herself.

His eyes grew wide as he picked up another one. It broke in half and fell. He scooped up a handful and held them to the light.

"Oh, no," he groaned.

He held out one tiny speck about the size of a grain of rice. He had to be sure. Mirra squinted to see it.

"Get out!" he commanded. His tone shocked him. He didn't look at her to see what impact it had. Obadiah had read about this before, when disease had struck distant lands and the ground was too hard to dig a grave. That's all this was, surely. He had even read how shrewd merchants scooped up the bones later, grinding them and using them to make the blackest ink. The best ink, and the irony was not lost on Obadiah, whose greatest treasures were his scrolls, written by those long dead. Writing was always tinged with death. He had read so much about death, but never held it.

Obadiah pointed to the mouth of the cave. "Go! Join the others! Now!"

With a huff of outrage, Mirra left. She had not seen the skulls near her feet.

He waited until she was gone to let his knees crumple beneath him. He staggered, still holding the tiny prize. It was the bone of a newborn. Lightning exploded overhead, and in the sudden sharp illumination, Obadiah saw he was standing in a sea of infant bones, burnt and crumbling. A long brown serpent wound its way across the bones, its green eyes glittering.

He could not run for the light, not until sufficient time had passed. He had to prevent the rumor that Mirra had been alone with a male servant. Instead, he stood still, his breath like thunder in his ears, suspicion destroying the weak hope he had held onto for this marriage. The scrolls he had read, the writings that Ahab had rejected in his haste for obedience to his father, had been right. Jezebel's god ate children, hundreds at a time, newborn or youth, drained of blood or burned alive. Worshipping the goddess meant death. Entire generations died through goddess worship. The people called her Asherah, or queen of heaven. Elijah, the most revered holy man in all of Judah and Israel combined, had called her a serpent.


Jezebel

Jezebel ran the edge of the arrow along her arm. No blood sprang up, which was good. Archery was delicate work, requiring the right arrow and perfect aim. She had practiced for three summers to be able to shoot an arrow on her own. At fifteen, she was better than any man in her father's guard. She was glad she would never need those men again.

She walked along the top of the palace wall until she was at the corner, where she had a clear view of the ground below, and where no guards were posted. Her small, nimble feet moved slowly, and she eased each foot down so that she made no sound. Threading the arrow into its groove, she waited.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from REIGN by Ginger Garrett. Copyright © 2013 Ginger Garrett. Excerpted by permission of David C. Cook.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >