Children's LiteratureThirteen-year-old Bani was born in Jerusalem, but he has spent all his life in Susa. His uncle, Nehemiah, is cup bearer to the king, and Bani expects to train as a soldier in the king's army. Nehemiah has other plans for him. Bani must study Torah, whether he wants to or not. Right now, he would rather not. He would rather be a soldier for the king, or serve him in some way. All Bani's loyalty is to Susa. He does not understand Nehemiah's love for Jerusalem, a love that seems to supersede his love for Bani. Nehemiah asks the king for permission to go to Jerusalem. These are difficult times, and Susa is surrounded by enemies. Should the king allow Nehemiah to go so far away? Will Bani be allowed to go with him? Nehemiah has signed a loyalty oath, but when they get to Jerusalem Bani is amazed to find that they are going to rebuild the gates and restore the Temple. How will this prove their loyalty to the king? Gradually, Bani begins to understand his uncle's love of Jerusalem, and his ultimate loyalty, which is to God. The fictional characters weave themselves seamlessly into the plot. It is not exceptionally easy reading, but it is an exceptionally good story. Recommended. 2005, Bethlehem Books, Ages 10 up.