Of Fire and Lions: A Novel

Of Fire and Lions: A Novel

by Mesu Andrews

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780735291867
Publisher: The Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/05/2019
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 78,239
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

MESU ANDREWS is the Christy Award-winning author of Isaiah's Daughter and numerous other novels, including The Pharaoh's Daughter, Miriam, and Love Amid the Ashes. Her deep understanding of and love for God's Word brings the biblical world alive for readers. Mesu lives in North Carolina with her husband, Roy, and enjoys spending time with her growing tribe of grandchildren.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1.
It was a day I dreaded all year long.

I picked up my polished-bronze mirror and tucked a stray tendril of gray curls beneath my new linen head scarf, noting in the reflection his fidgeting behind me. He always had trouble tying a jeweled belt, but his fingers seemed more trembly this morning. Was he nervous too?

I set aside my mirror and crossed the bedchamber, nudging his hands aside. “Let me do it.” Though both his hands and mine were spotted with age and lined with bulging blue veins, at least mine were still nimble.

He cradled my head and placed a kiss on my forehead. “Thank you, love. What would I do without you?”

I finished the knot and gazed into his rheumy eyes, as smitten as I’d been sixty-six years ago. “Let’s hope you never find out.” I laced my arm through his. “Let’s go downstairs. The children are waiting.”

He opened our chamber door, and lively family sounds floated up from the courtyard below. We descended the stairs slowly since Daniel’s feet pained him. Waiting in our lush green courtyard were three generations of our descendants seated around four long rectangular tables. Four daughters with their husbands. Twenty-one grandchildren. And thirty-two greats.

Two conscientious grandsons met their saba Daniel at the bottom of the steps, one supporting each elbow. I was left to follow—alone. The snubbing had begun.

“I’m fine,” he protested. “Tend to your savta.”

“But Ima said your feet have been paining you, Saba.” Our oldest daughter’s firstborn offered an obligatory nod at me. “Shalom, Savta.”

I returned the nod with a half smile but remained silent, refusing to mock the peace such a greeting offered. One glance at our oldest daughter, Kezia, assured me there would be no shalom today. She stole sullen glimpses at me while standing beside her husband, Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah’s exiles in Babylon. Our other three daughters stood arm in arm with their husbands, eyes trained on the abba they all adored.

“Abba and Ima!” Sheshbazzar, whom we lovingly called Shesh, shouted over the dull roar of chattering children and our fountain’s happy splashing. “Take your place at the head of the table.” He’d already arranged two brightly colored cushions at the end nearest the stairs and rushed over to support Daniel’s arm while he lowered himself. I mouthed a silent thank-you and sat quietly beside my husband.

Shesh took his place at Daniel’s right. Kezia sat beside her husband with several of her children and grandchildren filling spaces at the large table around us. She avoided my gaze.

“You look lovely today, Kezia.” I spoke across Daniel. “Is that a new robe, dear?”

Her eyes sparked. “Are you implying I spend too much money at the market, Ima?”

“No, dear. I…” Nothing I said to Kezia would be safe. “You are beautiful, Daughter. That’s all.”

Her cheeks pinked, and she looked quickly away, beginning a conversation with one of her daughters about the toddler on her lap. A great-grandson I’d met only a few times. Kezia’s eyes crinkled with a smile that lit her features. She was a good ima, at her best when her children surrounded her. Had she learned anything from me—before her hatred sprouted and grew?

The servants began a triumphant march with pitchers of juice and wine and platters laden with various meats, fruits, and vegetables. This was a day our dear Egyptian servant, Mert, anticipated all year long, a day when her best recipes from both Babylon and Jerusalem found their way to our table.

My husband hoisted his silver chalice in the air, repeating his annual vow. “If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.” Adults lifted goblets of wine and children their cups of juice. Our children had seen Jerusalem only in their minds through the stories Daniel told of his childhood in the palace. The rugged beauty of Zion. The grandeur of Yahweh’s Temple.

With our first sip came the rattle of the courtyard gate, and I caught the glint of morning sun off a soldier’s shield. Ten of King Belshazzar’s guards charged into our celebration.

One, wearing a captain’s gold breastplate, marched straight toward my husband. “King Belshazzar commands the presence of Daniel, exile of Judah, chief of King Nebuchadnezzar’s counselors.”

“I am Daniel.” He stood, and the captain gripped his arm and fairly dragged him toward the gate.

“Wait!” I lunged for my husband, but the other soldiers blocked my way.

My Daniel looked over his shoulder, offering a weak smile. “I’ll be back, love. Save some roast lamb for me.”

Panic clawed at my throat while ten strong soldiers led away the beating of my heart. I turned to the fruit of my womb, who moments ago had shunned me. Now everyone stared at me, pleading silently for direction. Angst filled my belly. Who needed food when my Daniel had been taken to the banquet of a madman? “I’m going upstairs to pray. No one eats a bite until Daniel returns.”

***

The captain’s fingers bit into Daniel’s arm, pulling him into the narrow street. Daniel tried to hurry his pace, but his feet were too tender. Perhaps conversation would slow the man down. “I haven’t visited the palace since Nebuchadnezzar released me from service twenty-four years ago. Did King Belshazzar mention his reason for summoning me?”

The only sound came from rippling water in the canal alongside the street. Silence was typical of a loyal eunuch. The captain’s wide gold collar proclaimed his vow to serve the king unto death and the king’s reciprocal commitment to lifelong provision.

Daniel stumbled, landing hard on his right foot. He braced his hands against his knees, wincing in pain.

“Are you well?” The captain’s concern was rather surprising.

“Yes, thank you. Could we slow our pace a bit?” Before the eunuch could answer, his stomach growled, and Daniel chuckled. “You and your men should have joined us for this morning’s meal. Mert is a fine cook.”

The captain’s features remained grim. “The king needs you now, Lord Daniel. Please.” He extended his hand in the direction of the palace, and Daniel felt the prickly flesh of urgency.

Continuing in silence, they left the walled city of Babylon’s wealth and noblility and ascended the marble stairs to the Processional Way. While crossing the wide avenue splitting Babylon’s municipality, they passed the three-storied Ishtar Gate, the military complex, and finally entered palace grounds through its southern gate.

The pounding of drums and trill of a flute floated on a chill autumn breeze, and a sudden presence pressed Daniel to his knees. With both hands over his ears, he blocked out distraction and held in the silent whisper:

MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN.

Mene: I have numbered the days of Belshazzar’s reign and brought it to an end.

Tekel: He has been weighed on My scales and found wanting.

Parsin: I have divided his kingdom and given it to the Medes and Persians.”

“My lord!” A huge hand lifted Daniel to his feet. “My lord, are you well?”

Shadows cleared from the prophet’s eyes, and he gazed into ten pale faces. “Yes, yes. Thank you. We must hurry to the king.”

The captain placed a giant arm around Daniel’s waist and fairly carried him toward the grand stairway. “I’ve heard you are a seer. Did you have a vision, my lord?”

Daniel sensed something genuine in this man but knew a eunuch’s loyalty was first and always to his king. “If you have any family in Babylon, Captain, they should leave the city tonight.”

His brows shot up, but a slight nod communicated understanding. Any Babylonian with a measure of sense knew King Cyrus of Persia had built an army that would someday overtake Babylon—the empire King Belshazzar had weakened by overspending, poor council choices, and constant revelry during the past fourteen years.

The captain hoisted Daniel up the grand stairway and into the main entrance. They hurried through what had once been pristine hallways, now covered in dust and frayed tapestries. Music grew louder as they neared the throne hall but with no accompanying sounds of laughter or merriment.

“I thought the king was hosting a banquet,” Daniel said.

“He was.” Was it fear or loyalty that kept him from saying more? Guards at the throne room opened the double doors, revealing the colossal space filled with tables, terrified noblemen, and musicians whose timid notes tested the eerie silence.

A man wearing a gold crown rushed toward Daniel. He’d seen the young king only once, on the day of his coronation, when Belshazzar entered Babylon in a chariot on the Processional Way. He was much shorter up close and much older tonight.

“Are you Daniel, one of the exiles my great-grandfather brought from Judah?”

Daniel barely had time for a nod before the king aimed a shaking finger at a side wall. “The inscription. See it? None of my wise men could interpret it.”

Daniel followed his gesture and stared at the exact words from his vision blazing with an unnatural fire on the plastered wall. “I’ve heard the spirit of the gods lives in you,” the king said, his panic-stricken features but a handbreadth away. “Interpret the message, and I swear by my father’s life I’ll dress you in purple, place a gold chain around your neck, and make you the third highest ruler in our kingdom.”

Sickened by the king’s stale sweat and fetid breath, Daniel was grateful he hadn’t eaten. How many promises had this regent broken? Many believed Belshazzar had killed his father to take Babylon’s throne. Shrugging off Belshazzar’s hands, Daniel stepped back and bowed with forced habit.

“You may keep your gifts and reward someone else. The Most High God gives glory and splendor to whomever He pleases—as He did to your forefather King Nebuchadnezzar. But when the king became proud, he was stripped of his glory, driven away from people, and given the mind of an animal. He lived with wild donkeys and ate grass like the ox until he acknowledged that the Most High God is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and sets over them anyone He wishes. But you, Belshazzar, though you knew all this, have not humbled yourself.”

Shocked whispers rolled like a tide over the noblemen in the hall, confirming that King Nebuchadnezzar’s transformation had not been widely known. Daniel scanned the crowd, noticing for the first time the glint of gold set before each guest.

Righteous indignation loosed his tongue again. “You set yourself against the Lord of heaven by allowing your nobles, wives, and concubines to drink wine from the goblets taken from Yahweh’s Temple. You have not honored the God who holds your life in His hands, so His hand wrote your doom on the wall.”

Daniel pointed to the blazing words and read aloud:

“MENE, MENE, TEKEL, PARSIN. The Lord has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. You have been weighed on scales and found wanting. Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians.”

He bowed once more and turned to go.

“Wait!” Belshazzar grabbed his arm and then lowered himself to one knee, inclining his head. “Please. I believe everything you’ve said, but please have mercy.” He stood and lifted his voice to the gathering. “Daniel will wear a purple robe from my chamber, and only my commands and those of my father carry more authority than Daniel’s in the whole empire.”

Belshazzar removed the gold chain from his neck and lifted it over Daniel’s head, letting the chiseled granite seal rest on the prophet’s chest. Lingering near, he spoke in a voice meant for only the prophet. “You’re now a son of Babylon. Surely your god won’t destroy an empire governed by one of his own.”

Daniel answered in an equally quiet voice. “My God will destroy many empires to bless His own.”

King Belshazzar recoiled, stiffened, and studied him. “You will remain at my side until I’m convinced you haven’t somehow conspired against me.”

“As you wish.” Daniel followed him to the elevated table, eating food prepared by palace cooks instead of the meal made by Mert’s loving hands.

Yahweh, protect my family when You bring Cyrus into Babylon.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Of Fire and Lions"
by .
Copyright © 2019 Mesu Andrews.
Excerpted by permission of The Crown Publishing Group.
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.

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Of Fire and Lions: A Novel 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
bsnksmom 19 days ago
Taken from her home in Jerusalem as a 9-year-old child, Abigail serves the four Hebrew princes, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. When Daniel becomes Belteshazzar, and the other three become Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, she continues to act as their servant, cleaning and bringing meals to "the boys." By the time she is 10, she comes under the Babylonian king's scrutiny, because the king feels Daniel is too invested in the beautiful slave girl. Stolen away from her boys, Abigail is basically cast adrift on the streets of Babylon, where her beauty becomes her curse. Hiding and stealing food for survival only lasts so long. When she is found nearly dead from starvation in a back alley, she is taken to the temple of Mithra and nursed back to health. To pay back her captors for their care, she becomes a temple slave, which doesn't seem bad. She'd been helping her mother clean the palace for years. This wasn't so different, until one day, a greedy temple priest sells her innocence to a high ranking official for 50 shekels. After that, she becomes Belili, and attains the rank of high priestess of Mithra, leaving her memories of Yahweh's provision for her in the past. After all, He didn't save her from her darkest hour. Why would she continue to revere Him? Daniel never forgot little Abigail. She was his first love, and even though he married later, he never fully gave his heart again. He has worked his way to being one of King Nebuchadnezzar's top advisors, interpreting the king's dreams, and worshiping Yahweh. When the king's proclamation gets his three best friends thrown into a fiery furnace, God's power reaches out to save them, and confirms everything Daniel has always believed. When he realizes that his Abigail is also in attendance, and witnessed this miracle, he is equally stunned to find her married to a Babylonian official, and that she now goes by the name, Belili. What happens when a plague takes both of their spouses, leaving Belili with a son to care for and no income? Daniel for his part, must have a spouse to continue to serve the king, and he can think of none better than Belili. Their love-match ignites both of their hearts, but will her secrets destroy Daniel's faith? Wow! This is biblical fiction at its finest! I was so invested in Belili and her life, and could definitely see how her faith would have taken a serious hit in her early years. Daniel's life seemed easier in many ways, although he, too, was essentially a slave. The wisdom he gained through his worship of the one true God, became a tool to bring the nation of Israel out of bondage. Mesu Andrews ties many biblical stories into Of Fire and Lions, all of which I'd heard before, but I really never put them together as happening at the same time. And, let me just say, the "Daniel in the Lion's Den" part of the story is excellent!! I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who loves historical fiction. This book made the Bible stories come to life for me, and that is the BEST kind of fiction, as far as I'm concerned!
Sarah823SP 19 days ago
Biblical fiction- yes maam!! accurate facts of the biblical account-- of course- that's what Mesu Andrews is known for. Bringing the story to life, getting you to read the book of Daniel again to compare and fully envision the story--- this book will do that. This book is a delight and a page turner. I love the vivid reality developed in this fictionalized portrayal of moving from the promised land and loosing all your family to a new life for the next 70 years in Babylon. This book makes the bible come alive and does that without changing the view of Daniels respect and commitment to Yahweh. It adds family to his life, drama, and experiences which enriches all the ways Daniel would be trusting God even when others may doubt His goodness. I found this book captivating and would suggest it to my friends. It's hard to bring the Bible to life in a fictional account, but Mesu Andrews has done it again by introducing us to Daniels family all the way through great grandchildren! By sharing the good and the disappointing aspects of life in submission to a King and Yahweh. The conflict is real. The commitment authentic. The people seem real and I'll never think about these famous stories in the same way. Waterbrook Partner- blessed with this advanced copy.
NKBookReviewer 6 days ago
I was well acquainted with the story of Daniel and Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego. My young years in Sunday School taught me those stories and we even sung songs about them. However, “Of Fire and Lions” taught me so much more about this biblical story. Author Mesu Andrews is an exquisite author of biblical fiction. She does her research diligently and produces an exemplary novel. It took me one paragraph, that’s all, to become invested her her latest masterpiece. Her penned words picked me up and gently set me down in Daniel and his wife Abigail/Belili’s home. With the author’s talented style I was able to glimpse the land, feasts, customs, and life of Daniel’s time. Her eloquent words flowed gracefully and never stumbled. Emotions seemed to transfer to me as I felt snubbed or frightened as Abigail admitted she did. Daniel became frustrated and so did I. The author knows how to get readers involved and feel what she has written. Descriptions were vivid and to the point. Every word had a responsibility in this work of art and together they produced a stunning, God-glorifying retelling of a biblical story. Each chapter begins with scripture. The point of view alternates between Daniel and his wife throughout the book. I adored that. Since this was fiction, I had to remind myself that it did not necessarily happen this way. Blanks were just filled in by the author. All of the essentials for a Christian book were met. First and foremost, it was easy to see this was a Christian fiction that honored a God. Secondly, I gleaned information. It is refreshing to come away from reading a novel with information that I previously did not know. Thirdly, there are discussion questions. I highly recommend this book. It made me feel closer to God as I read it. Anyone would benefit from reading it. A reading group would find this to be the perfect choice. I rated it 5 out of 5 stars. A copy was provided by the publisher by I was under no obligation to write a favorable review. These are my own, honest thoughts.
ConsultingWriter 6 days ago
I joined the book launch for Of Fire and Lions when I realized it was written by author Mesu Andrews, winner of the 2018 Christy Award for her previous novel, Isaiah's Daughter. After reading her latest book, I can see why she'd won the award last year. She has a talent for weaving the Biblical story into her fictional tale, making it a true historical fiction. Fans of that genre will enjoy this read. Besides that, her writing is spot on. Very descriptive and clear, it easily pulls the reader into the story. And the cover is stunning. So kudos to the designer of this novel's cover.The story is set in the book of Daniel when Nebuchadnezzar conquers Jerusalem and kidnaps Judean's finest youth to be educated for eventual service in the king's court. For those familiar with the Bible, or who've grown up hearing the Bible stories, it includes, as the title would suggest, the event involving Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. However, most of the story is told from the perspective of Abigail (aka Bellili), another Judean captive who develops a friendship with Daniel and ends up witnessing miraculous events. The theme? Be true and faithful to God even in tough times, always trusting in Him. As with reading the Bible, while reading this novel I find myself wondering how I would react to similar situations that Daniel experienced. Belili is like us, often questioning and struggling with her faith during difficult circumstances.I really enjoying this read. Mesu is a skilled storyteller and her descriptions whisk the reader away to the world of Daniel. It got me curious enough to re-read the book of Daniel. For fans of historical fiction, I highly recommend this book. I received a complimentary copy from WaterBrook Multnomah as part of the book launch. The honest opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Cheri5 9 days ago
Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews was a great fiction book based on the Biblical history of the account of Daniel. While I expect an author who chooses to write biblical fiction to research the topic thoroughly so as to give an accurate portrayal of the events, I also realize I’m reading a fiction book and the author is going to add much to the story to keep it going. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I love reading about Daniel and I felt as though I understood the history surrounding Daniel much better after having read this book. I felt as though I had a better grasp on the lifestyles back then, customs, etc. – facts I could have gotten from a history book but much prefer to read in a fiction style. Very interesting – so glad I read it. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah. I am not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are solely my own.
Virginiaw 11 days ago
I have never been disappointed with a Mesu Andrews book and this is no exception. I love the biblical connotations. She takes little known women of the Bible and brings them to life. She makes me feel what these women are going through. I loved Belili. She has a hard life growing up and goes through many trials and tribulations. I did not want to put this book down. I received a copy of this book from the author for a fair and honest opinion that I gave of my own free will.
vics49548 12 days ago
So imagine Daniel. We know about “Daniel and the lions den”. We don’t know a lot more about him. Author Mesu Andrews helps to fill in some gaps with her “what if” novel. What if Daniel was married as a young man? But not to his first love. What if later that first love became his wife? Let me say that Andrews in no way states her book as “the way it was”. It’s clearly a work of fiction that makes you think about possibilities but does not in any way attempt to change the biblical information about Daniel. We are given a lot of historical information about the temple, the ark of the covenant, what life was like in those days, all wrapped up in a beautiful love story. I found myself on the edge of my seat often. Those were not easy times and no one was exempt from the brutal rulers. But through the entire story we see God caring for His people, no matter the situation they were thrust into. And I found myself searching my heart. Could I stand as strong as they did, in the face of death? Who knows. We may need to answer that some day. If you enjoy historical or biblical fiction that will cause you to search your heart, that will make you gasp at times or even weep, then you must read Of Fire and Lions. I received a complimentary copy of this book but was not required to leave a review.
FHlady 14 days ago
Mesu Andrews says her philosphy of writing Biblical fiction is: 1) Biblical accounts and Scripture to build the foundation, 2) Historical facts the support the truth of God's Word, and 3) creative fiction to hold the historical fact and Biblical truth together. This is so obvious in this wonderful tale of Daniel. The story is so well-fashioned that it seamlessly weaves all 3 components together to place me right in the middle of Daniel's life and the time period and evil that existed during the 70 year Jewish exile to Babylon. I felt the frustrations and weariness that Daniel felt in dealing with the kings and royal court while, at the same time, staying true to his Hebrew beliefs. The stress and pressure had to have been overwhelming, yet Daniel never lost faith. The Bible doesn't tell us whether or not Daniel was married, Andrews' story created a plausible marriage and family that could have been true. I especially appreciated Andrews' concluding notes that gave explanation of the choices that she made in choosing points within the story that were best supported by Scripture and history. An excellent Biblical read that made my 2019 favorites list and which I would highly recommend to readers of Biblical fiction. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
Sprinkle23 14 days ago
After reading Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews, I will never read the Book of Daniel the same way again. It.brought to life Daniel's story in a way I had never imagined it before and explained how the Biblical events might have occurred. While Daniel's prophecies are included and applied in certain situations, this novel doesn't tackle explaining the end-time prophecies in the book of Daniel. Of Fire and Lions captivated me from the beginning with family tension and Belili's mysterious past. The story jumps between different times in Belili's life and sometimes that jump threw me off, but it did serve to stir questions and heighten my interest. Abigail/Belili, my favorite character, is brilliantly written. Belili's narrative voice differs with age – not only in her perception of events around her, but also in her outlook on life. She develops and grows, changing and learning through experiences. The changes she embraces and even those she fights, ring with authenticity. Themes about Yahweh's never-ending love and His inexhaustible forgiveness play out as Belili wrestles with her circumstances and questions. Her faith journey is life-long, just like ours. Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews boasts an eye-catching cover, but the stunning story inside reaches beyond the page to touch the reader's heart with it's themes. I highly recommend this Biblical fiction novel. My husband also read and enjoyed it, so it's appeal is not limited to women. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
DBWillard 14 days ago
This is my first read by this author Mesu Andrews. I am generally skeptical of Biblical novels because I don’t appreciate liberties taken with scripture which could distract from the actual words of the Bible. However, this novel pointed me back to God’s word with each chapter. I call that a real win, reading God’s word and the novel. This novel is based on the book of Daniel. All of the characters pop with life. Survival in the midst of conflict and deceit was Abigail’s life, once Daniel’s maid then as Belili Gadi’s wife and later Daniel’s wife. Her story is breathtaking. I found myself both mourning with her and rejoicing along her life’s journey. As a mother and wife Belili realized how important her family was to her happiness. Living with her secret from Daniel and her family was a spirit of heaviness that she realized only God could replace with a garment of praise! She only hoped she would get the opportunity to make things right. I give this author and novel 5 stars. What a great read! It is #Icannotputitdown, #lovestoryofDanielandAbigail, #Godslove, #familyconflict, #garmentofpraise, #waterbrookmultnomah, #MesuAndrews! I was privileged to receive this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Reading_Bee 15 days ago
If I may borrow the words from an incredible book, Of Fire and Lions was “beautiful and heartrending, glorious, and tragic.” I finished this book the day it released, but some books are so impactful, you have to take some time to process before you can review them... Oh, I have so many wonderful things to say about this book. Let’s start with characters... Daniel. Just wow. Mesu Andrews did a marvelous job of making him almost exactly as I would imagine he might have actually been. He was so kind, brave, and WISE. The part that really kind of blew me away, though was how the author was able to take this teenage character and develop him along the way into an eighty year old man, but still maintain the core of who he was as a person. I mean, I could still recognize the same person seventy years later, regardless of all that he had been through—I don’t know if I’ve ever seen an author do character-progression that well! Belili. Oh, Belili. So brave and strong, but with the tenderest of hearts behind all the bravado. My goodness, I liked her so much! She was a fighter, and with the sheer will to survive, she battled against so much evil in a foreign land, to live. But she couldn’t do it all on her own. As with each of us, she had to come to the place where she knew that God was the only one who could pull her back from the brink of unimaginable darkness, and give her the courage to let the truth finally set her free. Also, Mert and Allamu!!! Can we give them awards for being aaahhhhmazing supporting characters??? I know Allamu might not be specifically mentioned in the Bible, but I desperately need him to have his own story!! And Mert is officially the coolest character in this book. The way Of Fire and Lions was set up was unique. The author took us backward and forward along the storyline, weaving a tapestry of lives that was breathtaking to behold. I really liked the way she approached when Nebuchadnezzar became like a beast. Amyitis’s love and utter devotion were an amazing addition, and their intertwined lives were...beautiful. Also, I thought how she presented Cyrus and Darius, and the return to Jerusalem was fascinating. I have to agree with another reviewer, I don’t think I will ever read the book of Daniel the same way again. True to form, Mesu Andrews’ powerful writing has instilled the desire to dive more deeply into God’s Word, and learn even more about these people and the God who delivered them from the power “Of Fire and Lions.” I received a copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to post a positive review, and all opinions are my own.
Julie12 17 days ago
This story pulled me in from the very first page. I absolutely love how the author brings the people and story of the Bible alive. This story revolves around Daniel and his wife, Belili. While the Bible doesn't say anything about Daniel having a wife, the author explains how her research led her to believe that Daniel was perhaps not a eunuch. I really liked the complexity of the relationship Belili has with her children and how misunderstanding can lead to broken relationships. In this fictional account, we see Daniel has an old man who is still revered by his family, friends and those in power. He is still called on for his wisdom because of his vital and chose relationship with God. It's a continuation of the Daniel that we know from the Bible - a man who chooses God and His ways over all else. I really loved how Mesu brought this story alive and gave us an understanding of what it was like to live during these times. I really felt so drawn into this story and had a hard time putting the book down. This book is an excellent story of Biblical fiction and I highly recommend it. *This book was provided to me by Waterbrook/Multnomah. I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this book.
Becky6 17 days ago
Mesu Andrews is one of my favorite authors when it comes to biblical fiction. I had no idea what the author had in store for “Of Fire and Lions” except that the cover was absolutely stunning and that it would be based on the book of Daniel. Now, if you’ve grown up in the church then you’re probably very familiar with this guy. That’s what I love the most about this story. Mrs. Andrews brings to life the stories that happened thousands of years ago and brings it into an entirely new light. One particular theme throughout the story is the constant challenge of staying true to God and having an abiding faith even in the face of death. Like Belili, I constantly found myself questioning myself if my faith were as strong as Daniel’s. While today’s circumstances are quite different and no one is being thrown into fiery pits or fed to the lions here in America, I still found myself questioning myself if I would respond the same way if I were thrown into a similar situation. I hope my answer would be yes, but it was thought-provoking. Other themes found throughout the book contain devotion, reconciliation, forgiveness, and how amazing God is. You’ll also probably find yourself opening your Bible to read the book of Daniel for yourself. That’s one of my favorite parts when it comes to Mesu Andrews’ books. This will definitely be a book that you will not want to miss out on. Seriously. Go do yourself a favor and pre-order yourself a copy. Highly recommended! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
GailHollingsworth 18 days ago
It is is interesting to imagine what conversations might have gone on between the people in the Bible in their everyday lives. And though my imagination is not that inspiring, the author, Mesa Andrews does a great job in this novel. Each chapter begins with a scripture that goes along with what is happening. I appreciated how the story followed the actual events from the Bible. Daniel and his friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego along with other strong captives were exiled to Babylon. Thus begins the seventy years God has revealed through the prophets before they will be allowed to return to Jerusalem. Daniel is given special status and recognition from the king because of his God given ability to interpret dreams. The story of the firey furnace is told from the account in the Bible as well as Daniel in the lions den. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refuse to bow down and worship false gods and so does Daniel. God rescues them all to the astonishment of the king and his officials. My favorite jaw dropping moment is reading the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s transformation into an animal and how Daniel helped hide him away for seven years in spite of his dislike of him. I shed a few tears, was inspired by the character shown by Daniel and his friends and was moved by the romance aspect that was spilled out among the pages. I even went back and re-read the book of Daniel in the Bible. I highly recommend this novel and will be seeking out more books by this author. I received a copy of this book from the publisher but was not required to write a review positive or otherwise.
KimPotter 18 days ago
Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews is a re-telling of the Biblical story of Daniel. From the capture of Jewish prisoners sent to Babylon to the return of the remnant to Jerusalem this story takes you on a ride you will never forget. Daniel and his young friends are sent to Babylon where they are trained to serve in the king’s court. I’m not one who usually reads Biblical fiction, but I thought I’d try this one. Ms. Andrews did not disappoint! I loved the way she brought the story to life. Giving Daniel and the Hebrew Children a family life seemed to make them more human and not just stories that you’ve heard from childhood. Her view of the story had me thinking about things I’d never even stopped to consider. Abigail’s struggles throughout the story were a reminder that God is always near waiting for us to be still and listen and He’ll always take care of us. I will definitely be looking for more books by this very talented author. I received this book from the author in exchange for my honest review.
Nicnac63 18 days ago
I remember learning about Daniel’s experiences in the lion’s den and the fiery furnace when I was a young child in Sunday school. I can still see the large felt-board showcasing the biblical characters and flames in my mind. I have always been fascinated by Daniel’s extraordinary faith. Of Fire and Lions is a fictional account of this biblical figure, expounding on his life by giving him a fictional wife. This is biblical fiction; therefore appropriate to add to Daniel’s story without eliminating the biblical message. I love it when an author brings a Bible story to life and paints a new visual in my head to last a long time. Just like the felt-board stories when I was young. The various time periods and dual POVs is a little confusing in the beginning, but it doesn’t take long for the flow to become established, allowing me to sink into the story. The character list in the front of the book is helpful. The extensive research is apparent, and Ms. Andrews really drives the message(s) home with beautiful prose. I’ve loved every book I’ve read by this author, and will continue to seek out her work. #OfFireAndLions Opening Line: I’d never seen a sesame seed grow until I came to Babylon almost seventy years ago. I received a review copy of this book as a #PRHpartner with #WaterbrookMultnomah and NetGalley. Opinions expressed are completely my own.
annelr 18 days ago
Of Fire and Lions is historical fiction at its finest. Mesu Andrews does a marvelous job of telling the story of a young woman who first is depicted as a Hebrew captive, finds herself an idol worshiper, and ends up the beloved wife of the prophet Daniel. Taking Biblical history and fleshing out the story, the author brings readers a thoroughly captivating read. With descriptive prose that makes the reader feel like you are right there in the scenes and realistic dialogue, the author expertly portrays the struggles and the depth of emotions of the characters and brings clarification to some of the convoluted political alliances and tells of the Babylonian captivity of the Hebrews. The development of the characters throughout the story is strong, especially Abigail as she struggles to know who she is. Was she Belili, the woman who had won the love of the Medes' chief magus or was she still Abigail, a Hebrew captive who served Yahweh only? Could her family forgive her for her secrets and lies? Would Yahweh someday include her again in His watchful care? I enjoyed the portrayal of the prophet Daniel throughout the story, not just seeing him as a man who was continually faithful to Yahweh but as a husband and father as well. He knew God was good and nothing would make him deny the One True God. With the portrayal of warfare and subsequent captivity, and corrupt kings and their thoughtless rulings, this is not a light read but it is a story that portrays a sovereign God, the LORD God Most High, who alone holds all kingdoms in His hands. It is a story of sorting out fears and failures and extending and receiving forgiveness for the same. A story of the strengthening of one's faith as one learns the truth of Yahweh's love in the midst of hardship and despair, of seeing His working of miracles in impossible situations. Lovers of Biblical historical fiction will not want to miss Of Fire and Lions. I received a complimentary copy of the book from Waterbrook Publishers and was not required to write a review. The opinions are my own.
MissKnu 19 days ago
In Of Fire and Lions, Mesu Andrews has imagined a domestic side to the life of Daniel, told primarily in the voice and through the memory of Belili. As the story begins, she and Daniel are in their seventies and he has yet to meet the lions in their den. And Belili has yet to reveal to Daniel or their daughters the secrets of just how far she strayed from their faith in the years between her service as a slave bought to serve the young prince of Judah in his captivity, and their present, tenuous life as a family living in a multi-generational home. As the narrative moves back and forth in time, the full story of how the young hebrew maid Abigail becomes the jaded Belili slowly unfolds, and even as her secrets unravel it is her renewed faith that brings her the strength to support Daniel in the trials he is yet to face. In Belili, the author has created a woman who has learned to endure and survive. It is through her that we see another side to Daniel and experience his story anew. But even more than her relationship with him, it is the contentious relationships with her children that were often center stage for me as a reader. It was the character development even more than the voice that held me, and once I began to read Of Fire and Lions it was difficult to stop. The wealth of research that must have gone into this book was seamlessly blended into the story and I found myself considering aspects such as the contrast between Daniel's steadfast faith and Belili's much more broken journey. Highly recommended for readers who enjoy biblical retellings or well-crafted works of historical fiction, featuring a woman of great strength and hard won faith. This review refers to an uncorrected proof I voluntarily received from Waterbrook Multnomah. All opinions expressed are my own.
EstherRN 19 days ago
While I like historical fiction, I read stories with Biblical characters with a critical eye. I wasn’t sure what I would expect in this story of Daniel—especially when I found out he had a wife. I have always interpreted the Biblical Daniel (and the other captives) as being eunuchs. The author explained her stance (and Biblical backing) for Daniel’s marriage at the end of the book. It makes sense. I liked this book. The author did a good job bringing this time period to life. I especially liked the story of Abigail/Belili. My heart ached for her as she was ripped away from “safety” in Jerusalem and had to survive as a captive. Not only did she have to survive, but she also had to struggle with her faith. I started this book ready to quit if anything stood out to me as going against what I knew about this story from the Bible. Not only was there nothing to make me stop, the book sucked me in and I found myself wrapped up in the story and the lives of the characters. It was good! I follow the GoodReads rating system. Please note that this means even the 3-star books are ones I liked. 1 star – didn’t like it 2 stars – it was OK 3 stars – liked it 4 stars – really liked it 5 stars – it was amazing; I’ll read it over and over and/or it will impact my daily life.
NayDenise 19 days ago
This was such an amazing story and really brought the book of Daniel to life. I, personally, don't much about Daniel besides him working with the kings, the story of his friends in the fiery furnace and his encounter with the lions in the den. However, Mesu Andrews really crafted a story around the keys events pulling from scripture and adding beautiful details in to the story. This is a dual perspective novel which is told from both Daniel and his wife. I love the focus of family and trusting God. Very powerful message on truth as well. Belili is an absolutely strong woman! She endured so much hurt, pain and betrayal, but she kept pushing forward. She made her mistakes of course, but it showed her human side. Belili was amazing as a mother and wife. With all the things that were thrown at her she stayed strong. I loved her strength, her realness and her vulnerability throughout the story. Daniel is a very God-fearing man, but he also had his faults and flaws which I appreciated it being shown in this story. He was all about God, but so much so that it ruined his family a bit. I loved seeing Daniel interpret dreams, I loved how he was as a young boy. Very smart, wise and always seeking God. Daniel was a loving man as well from start to finish. Respectable in every way. The romance between Belili and Daniel was AMAZING! They fell in love during a hard time in their lives. When things were finally picked up for them they had to be separated which felt like a betrayal, but God brought them back together. I loved every interaction between the two of them. They had such a real and raw love for one another that was secondary to their love for God. It was amazing to see God work in their lives despite the harsh life they had in Babylon. Their children were all so interesting. Especially Kezia and Allamu of all the children. Allamu was Belili's son from her first marriage and I found that he pissed me off a ton. Kezia is the oldest daughter from Belili and Daniel's marriage. The way both Kezi and Allamu treated Belili was so heartbreaking. However, they way they both grew to love and respect her was amazing. The kings were all interesting to read about, especially since I've read a bit about them in the Bible. I loved seeing them come to life in various ways and in their personalities. I really enjoyed Cyrus the most, especially the last few chapters. Darius was a bit insane though -- quick to kill people. King Nebuchadnezzar was pretty cool too even in his scene with acting like animal -- I thought that was funny and sad. Overall, this is a really great story of the book of Daniel. I found that I had my Bible out to compare the scripture references and truly understand the book of Daniel and the fictional portions. Totally recommend it if you want to see what Daniel's life would've been like with his family, his work and God.
Becky5 19 days ago
Of Fire and Lions by Mesu Andrews lives up to its exciting, exotic name. It will be one of my faves for 2019!! Such a complex story, so many deep emotions, and such great God lessons set against the impossibly capricious and precarious times of the rising and waning Babylonian empire. Themes of faithfulness to Yahweh, the strength of love, HIS forgiveness, restoration with family, secrets, and so much more. My heart is so full, I would urge anyone with an interest in Biblical history to read Andrews’ well-researched and amazingly crafted account of Daniel. One of the themes I found most applicable to my life: What is more important? Personal comfort or following God’s Will? Ouch!! Quote(The heart-rending cry of many a parent, including myself): “ ‘I failed to convince the people I love most that Yahweh is real.’ ‘You have not failed, and you can’t convince them. Only Yahweh can work in a heart to help those we love to believe. We must simply love them with an honest and transparent heart.’ “ I received a complimentary copy of this book from Waterbrook-Multnomah. I am not required to leave a positive review and all opinions are solely my own.
NadineTimes10 19 days ago
Although I'm not the quickest to jump at Biblical Fiction these days, this novel became a must-read for me from the moment I first heard about it. Yes, the obvious references in the title to the legendary fiery furnace and the lions' den were a major factor, but it would also take some colossal kind of stubbornness for me to resist the book cover. I mean, come on—a woman in vibrant red, sweeping her lengthy, soaring garment over the head of a lion with smoldering eyes and a mane ablaze with flames? How much more vivid artistry and dramatic allusion can you harmoniously fit into a book cover image? So, yes, the immediate thematic presentation enticed me to read the novel, and Andrews is no novice when it comes to this genre. She illustrates so much in this dense story, including political intrigue and peril in the Babylonian court; the toll that untruths and bitterness can take on a family; life before and after the height of spiritual pinnacles; and some of the tragic irony of fulfilled prophecy. Now, for much of the book, I had trouble following and connecting with the characters emotionally. With so many events (and years) to cover, the shifts from one incident to the next, and the character and emotional development within those shifts, felt choppy to me in a lot of places. Once I did get into the emotional flow later in the story, it almost became too depressing for me. But the faith narrative of flawed people here is compelling, and the climax is powerful. If you're a fan of Biblical ChristFic, this novel is one you won't want to pass up. _________ I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.
theskett 19 days ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this look “behind the scenes” of Daniel’s story! Ms. Andrews’ well-crafted characters spring to life with very human dreams, wants, challenges, and failures. The intriguing story line kept me reading, even though I was familiar with these Bible stories. The greatest joy God gives us through His Word is bringing it to life so that it lives with us and in us, and Ms. Andrews is faithful to share her love and knowledge of God’s Word with readers. I highly recommend Of Fire and Lions for not one reading, but two.
christianbookgirl 19 days ago
Up until a few years ago, I didn't have much interest in Biblical Fiction. However, authors like Mesu Andrews changed my mind about the genre. This latest book is no exception. Forgiveness, bitterness, sadness, anger, loss...I could go on and on about the numerous themes. This book and Belili's story will shake you to your core and make you want to read your Bible. It may be hard to keep track of the characters at some points, but the plot is easy to follow. The narrative is compelling, the characters complex, and the story of Daniel may be looked at much differently after you read this book. Don't walk, but RUN to check this story out!
marongm8 19 days ago
We are familiar with Mesu Andrews' books and they are all like reading a tale from the Bible come to life but Mesu Andrews does it in such a unique way that not only does the story come to life but it is easily relatable and understandable. This feels like a story that was hidden in the original Bible in the book of Daniel and now that it has surfaced, let the adventure begin. This book is the perfect book to have someone read that has difficulty relating to some of the scriptures in the Bible and that loves a book with a lot of action and adventure. This book really made the Bible fun to read. That is why we give this book 5 stars.