The Queen's Handmaid

The Queen's Handmaid

by Tracy Higley
4.6 19

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The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy Higley

A jealous Egyptian queen. A lascivious Galilean governor. A beautiful servant girl. Theirs is a story of prophecy, self-discovery, and revelation.

The year is 39 BC. All of Alexandria awaits the arrival of Herod, the Galilean governor with his eye on the Judean kingship. The handmaid of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, receives a troubling visit from her aging mentor.

An orphan since birth, Lydia lives in the palace at the demand of Cleopatra and her royal child, the son of Julius Caesar. But Lydia has a growing problem on her hands: her beauty is becoming a liability to the aging queen, and the visiting Herod’s undisguised interest only makes matters worse.

When Lydia’s mentor is murdered, the handmaid inherits a daunting task. An ancient set of sealed scrolls, the secret writings of the prophet Daniel, must be returned to Jerusalem—before those who killed her mentor destroy the scrolls as well. The future of the Israelites depends on it. So Lydia leaves the palace to serve as lady’s maid to Herod’s wife in the Holy City.

As Lydia is absorbed into the machinations of Herod’s household, her mission— and her people’s hope of a Messianic King—are endangered at every turn. Can Lydia avoid the adulterous intentions of Herod? Can she deliver the scrolls to the mysterious man on the steps of the Temple? Will the true King of Israel ever rise?

"Higley amazes us with another of her action-packed feats of storytelling." —RT Book Reviews, 4 1/2 Stars, TOP PICK! (on Palace of Darkness)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401686857
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 03/25/2014
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 89,900
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Tracy L. Higley started her first novel at age eight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and So Shines the Night. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at Twitter: @TLHigley Facebook: tracyhigley

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The Queen's Handmaid 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
CrystalZB More than 1 year ago
This book was really good! My favorite thing about it was the factual characters like Cleopatra, Miriamme, Herod, Marc Antony, Antistobolus etc.! That's the best part - writing a fictional/factual story with true characters. I don't know how to explain it! It's really good. I love the history in this book. Sometimes it was too much to take in, i had to read some parts over but it's amazing. The ending note from the author helps you to appreciate the book even more. It's just amazing the number of events going on before Jesus's birth. I think there should be a Part 2 to this piece of work!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this historical "ficton" and thank B&N for offering this "deal" or "free friday" selection. I should know more of this religous history. This author makes me pay more attention to the "religous" or so called religous events of today and compare to the past - are they really so different? I think not, which is really frightning. I would recommend this 300 page story.
MNGringa1 More than 1 year ago
History, history and more history. This book brings Egypt and Roman history to life in a way that sticks in my brain. The book begins in Alexandria and Cleopatra is Queen. Lydia is Cleopatra's handmaid and Nanny to her son, whose father is Julias Caesar. Lydia is offered a job in Jerusalem to serve as the lady's maid to Herod's wife. She takes this job and through a series of events her life is changed and she is given an important task to fulfill. Lydia is a warm and caring character that brings peace to those who are in turmoil. Her task seems like it will never be fulfilled, but through a surprising turn of events we see the completion of her task. Higley does a masterful job interweaving history and fiction. I never understood how interwoven the histories of Rome, Egypt and Israel really were. This book brings this out in fascinating detail. A fabulous read for history buffs.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Love love love
MysM 6 months ago
Taut Biblical Times Adventure The Queen's Handmaid , an historical fiction novel by Tracy L. Higley, takes place in the time of Herod the Great, Salome, Cleopatra, and Marc Antony — 39 B.C. It is a romantic adventure centering around the lost (and sealed) writings of the prophet Daniel and an obscure princess of the Hasmonean (also called the Maccabean) Dynasty of the Jewish people. The writings were to be revealed at the coming of the Messiah but with all the years of various captivities, they became lost. Until Samuel finds them and entrusts them to a young handmaiden named Lydia, an orphan raised in the palace who has been taught the scriptures by Samuel and serves her queen, Cleopatra. As he lies dying, Samuel charges Lydia to return the scrolls to Jerusalem to a man who will be standing on the steps of the temple on the annual day of atonement, Yom HaKippurim. He will be wearing a red-stiped tallit with red and blue corded tassels, a member of the Chakkiym (Aramaic - Kahk-keem). She is to trust no other. He also gives her a necklace that belonged to her mother whom she never knew. Herod is visiting Cleopatra on his way to Rome and desires Lydia to become the handmaiden for his future queen and so she begins her journey to Jerusalem via Rome. While she enchants many, Lydia also makes a few enemies along the way, the most dangerous of whom is Herod's sister, Salome. Her staunchest protector, however, is the household manager for Herod, a Hebrew soldier named Simon for whom she develops strong feelings. Another friend is David who had served Herod for 3 years before Lydia met him. Despite their seeming loyalty to her, Lydia is slow to open herself up to them. She continually searches for the truth about the Chakkiym, about her Jewishness, and about her identity. This story is rich with the settings of Alexandria, Rome, and Jerusalem with lots of tension and plot twists, the threat of evil, the paranoia of Herod, the ambition of Salome, palace spies, escape attempts from the palace, and the protection of HaShem for Lydia. It is a time period that fascinates author, Tracy L. Higley and she does her research well. I have read other books by her that are just as gripping and have at least one other on my shelf still to read. If you enjoy historical fiction from biblical times, I am confident you will enjoy The Queen's Handmaid .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lydia is put in charge of mysterious scrolls after her mentor Samuel is murdered. His last words send her on a mission like no other. Herod the Great is disturbing the peace in Judea, Lydias probobal birthplace. She must leave her place as Cleopatras handmaid and find her destiny and the One True God Samuel always talked of.
CharityU-Austenite More than 1 year ago
When I stumbled across this book at the library, I recognized it as Tracy’s newest and was super happy – how often are new publications actually IN at the library? I was thrilled. So I checked it out and made time to read it over Easter. It was enthralling. It concentrates on Lydia, a fictional character who was first a servant to Cleopatra and then to the wife who Herod the Great actually loved, Mariamme. This book was a fascinating take on those historical characters (especially Cleopatra and Herod!). Lydia is absolutely delightful and I would love to meet her. I was amazed by the all the research that Tracy put into this book – the result is stunningly historically accurate book. I’m so excited for Tracy’s upcoming book (don’t know a title yet, but I hear it’ll be about the wise-men??!?!!?) and I’m definitely really enjoying each of her books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tracy Higley has written another wonderful book. The Queen's Handmaid tells about the political climate into which Christ Jesus would be born. I am looking forward to her next book!!
VicG More than 1 year ago
Tracy L. Higley in her new book “The Queen’s Handmaid” published by Thomas Nelson takes us into the life of  Lydia. From the back cover:  A jealous Egyptian Queen. A lascivious Galilean Governor. A beautiful servant girl. Theirs is a story of prophecy, self-discovery and revelation. The year is 39 BC.  All of Alexandria awaits the arrival of Herod, the Galilean governor with his eye on the Judean kingship.  The handmaid of Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, receives a troubling visit from her aging mentor. Orphaned at birth, Lydia was raised as a servant in Cleopatra’s palace, working hard to please while keeping everyone at arm’s length. She’s been rejected and left with a broken heart too many times in her short life. But then her dying mentor entrusts her with secret writings of the prophet Daniel and charges her to deliver this vital information to those watching for the promised King of Israel. Lydia must leave the nearest thing she’s had to family and flee to Jerusalem. Once in the Holy City, she attaches herself to the newly appointed king, Herod the Great, as handmaid to Queen Mariamme. Trapped among the scheming women of Herod’s political family—his sister, his wife, and their mothers—and forced to serve in the palace to protect her treasure, Lydia must deliver the scrolls before dark forces warring against the truth destroy all hope of the coming Messiah. I enjoy history and when you tell history side by side with Church history then the book is a winner.  Tracy L. Higley has truly given us a winner with “The Queen’s Handmaid”.  Cleopatra, Herod, Julius Ceasar and the prophecies of Daniel.  All of these stories are told through the yes of Lydia, a servant girl, who has been chosen to return the scrolls to Jerusalem.  Get ready there are politics, executions, escapes, liaisons, schemes and conniving that will make your head spin.  And the characters.  Ms. Higley has given us great characters who live and breathe on the pages and draw us into their lives so that we root for the good guys and do not want the bad guys to win.  “The Queen’s Handmaid” is great fun.  It is history, a thriller, adventure and a romance all rolled up in an extremely entertaining ball. Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group.   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.”
lauraofharvestlanecottage More than 1 year ago
  Tracy's website says, "your portal to the ancient world."  This book did not disappoint.  It was everything that I hoped it would be... drama, mystery, suspense, historical, and an expression of growing faith in God.  It was all of that plus dark secrets, a compelling mission, character refinement and growth, and divine protection.       I have to admit, I got a little confused with the Herods and Caesars.  It's not Tracy's fault.  She put a chart in the front of the book.  They just had some wonky relationships.  This was the time of the Julius and Augustus and Octavian Caesars and Marc Antony. Hateful and heartless, the lot of them.  Cleopatra plays a starring role and she is just nasty every way you looked at her.  She did her share of hateful and heartless things as well.  I was shocked at the way human life held no value in their eyes nor did marriage or fidelity.       I came away from this book with a better understanding of the time period of the Hasmonians whom you might know as the Jewish Maccabeans. I never fail to be amazed at the anti-semitism.  The Romans and Jews really did hate each other.       I was so happy that Lydia, the central character, was a good decent young woman who was artistic and caring and brought beauty to relationships and locations.  Oh pickle loaf sandwiches and popcorn brains, I want to tell you about some things that were so wonderful, but they would just spoil the book for you.  I'll hush.  ~smile~  This is well worth reading.  Do be careful though.  Your housework may suffer.  Laundry just isn't quite in the same league. ~smile~      I'll give this one five stars.  I will be reading every Tracy Higley book I can get my hands on. ~smile~  I recommend you do the same. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from litfuse as part of a blog tour.   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.”
readgreatfiction More than 1 year ago
Okay, I admit it, I always expect a spectacular experience when reading a new Tracy Higley book. Her amazing attention to detail and obvious extensive research of the time period create an authentic setting far beyond those of other authors of ancient historical fiction.  With The Queen's Handmaid, I easily got lost in the feeling that I had been transported to the outskirts of power in 39BC. The historical characters in this book are a lot more complicated to keep track of than those in most other time periods, simply because of similar names, the extensive intermarriages, and multiple marriages that seem to be traded back and forth. Tracy provides a chart at the beginning of the book that helps keep it all straight for the reader.  She told me (via Facebook) that she often referred back to it herself while writing the book. While the message of the story was not shouted, there was a definite awareness that God weaves the tapestry of history, often using ordinary, seemingly insignificant individuals to fulfill his ultimate plan for the world. I really enjoyed the story's protagonist, the fictional Lydia.  She seemed real both in her strengths and weaknesses. Her fears, hesitations, and feelings of uncertainty provide a beautiful juxtaposition to her ultimate bravery. The mystery and suspense in this book are very well written.  It was not at all obvious how the book would end.  I know the reader always knows (hopes) that everything will work out, but while reading the book I found myself constantly wondering just exactly what that "working out" would look like.   There is no question in my mind that you will be richer in experience for having read this book.  I know I am.  (I received this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. All opinions rendered are fully my own opinions.)
lmbartelt More than 1 year ago
Whenever I pick up a Tracy Higley book, I feel smarter after I’ve read it, and it was no different with her latest, The Queen’s Handmaid. As a non-student of ancient history, I had never considered that Cleopatra lived only decades before Jesus was born. Shows what I know. (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book through Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for my review.) So, with that new knowledge, I was eager to read this story of Lydia, who is handmaid to Cleopatra in Alexandria at the time of Herod’s visit to the queen of Egypt. During his visit, Lydia is given a seemingly impossible mission by her aging mentor who is murdered not long after he reveals a secret to her. Lydia then embarks on a journey that eventually takes her to Jerusalem as lady’s maid to Herod’s wife, with the mission burdening her at every turn. What she carries with her is the hope of the Jewish people in a Messianic King, a hope Lydia, herself, will struggle with. In typical Higley fashion, this is a suspenseful and entertaining read. But it’s also hard to follow at times, which is not necessarily the fault of the author but the scope of the story and timeframe. The book covers a lot of years, though the story is not bogged down by irrelevant events. And because the historical characters play a part in the plot, I often found myself confused by which Herod was which and who was connected and related to whom. Again, that’s information for a history book, not necessarily a novel, and I appreciate the way Higley is able to write a story using the historical context without it feeling like a textbook. I wish I knew the history of this time period better so I didn’t have to keep flipping back to the family tree at the beginning of the book. But let me be clear: those are not reasons to not read this book. By the end, all of the connections and relationships made sense and I was excited about the possibility of another book to come that follows up the events in this one. Higley is one of those rare authors who makes history lifelike to me, and I can see the events as they happen. Her stories enrich my understanding of Bible stories and events. For those reasons, her books are a must-read for me.
Mirella More than 1 year ago
The Queen's Handmaid is the latest release from author Tracy L. Higley. In this sweeping historical novel, she takes readers into the Biblical time of King Herod, the Galilean governor bent on increasing his power through acquiring land and kingdoms. He uses his influence with Cleopatra and Mark Anthony to make his gains. Lydia is a young handmaiden who works for Cleopatra. This is when Lydia first encounters Herod who convinces Cleopatra to hand Lydia over to him to work for his betrothed. But Lydia possesses a secret. She must locate a man in Jerusalem at the temple courts and hand over to him the secret scrolls she has been entrusted with. She must guard and keep her task a secret before she is murdered.  What follows is a complex plot filled with numerous fascinating characters, life and death dangerous scenarios, and a gripping good story to the very satisfying end. Murder, secret trysts and alliances, spies, betrayal, love, and loyalty! This novel can boast all of that and more. Good writing and plenty of historical detail makes the story truly come alive. Very highly recommended.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
You can tell when you're reading a historical fiction novel or in this case a biblical historical fiction novel that the author has done their due diligence and written something so exceptional, you honest wonder how long the research must have taken. In the case of The Queen's Handmaid from best-selling author Tracy L. Higley, she writes the little known fictional story of Herod, the Galilean governor with his eye on conquering as many kingdoms as possible. Using all his influence he begins to form alliances with Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and Mark Anthony, second in command of Rome. Herod hoped that each of these alliances would lead him to gain more control of the surrounding lands he had already acquired and had hoped that with his marriage to Mariamme he would have an heir to his throne. But Herod the Great would soon face his challenges beginning with Cleopatra who would not give up any control to anyone including members of her own family if she felt threatened. She would have them executed without a second thought. Lydia is Cleopatra's handmaid who cares for her children at first until she is introduced to Herod. He sees the intelligence and value she possesses and hires her as a handmaid for his soon-to-be wife. Only Lydia is living with a task she must accomplish in her lifetime and one that requires her to locate a man in the temple courts of Jerusalem and provide him with a set of sealed scrolls from the prophet Daniel. She must not divulge this information to anyone and her mentor Samuel was murdered before he could complete the task. Since he left no sons behind to carry on, he has tasked Lydia with helping to usher in future for the nation of Israel. Only if Samuel was murdered for having the scrolls in his possession, so can Lydia. As things begin to unravel with being in Cleopatra's household, Lydia knows it will only be a matter of time before Cleopatra has her killed as well. Lydia has always proved a threat to Cleopatra not by her words or actions, but by her calm demeanor and how people are immediately drawn to her. Even Cleopatra's own children find solace and comfort in Lydia than with their own mother. So when the opportunity presents itself to flee from Cleopatra and leave secretly with Herod, Lydia realizes that it will not only be for her benefit but also move her closer geographically for finding the one person she can give the scrolls to before they find her. But even Herod has his secret spies working in his own family to ensure their own personal interests and survival, is Lydia any safer with Herod than she is with Cleopatra? I received The Queen's Handmaid by Tracy L. Higley compliments of Litfuse Publicity and Thomas Nelson Publishers for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation for my honest review and the opinions contained in this review are strictly my own. I am a huge fan of Tracy Higley's literature because of her ability to write the reader into the story. You are just reading it, you're there as part of the story in the background as a silent observer. You can see and feels things so vividly, pictures aren't required. Her ability to utilize the character of Lydia to bring the characters of Cleopatra and Herod to life in a unique way. Based on factual information, she shows you just how manipulative they each were to obtaining their goals and how they played upon others to achieve their selfish aspirations even at the cost of those they loved. It was sad to see how far greed got carried away in their own life and even though they each thought they were in control, they were really being played by others around them without knowing it. Hands down this one gains a 4.5 out of 5 stars in my opinion and can't wait for more from Tracy in the near future.
CBfamily More than 1 year ago
I love historical fiction, and Tracy L. Higley’s Christian fiction novels have not disappointed me yet. (Others I've enjoyed include City on Fire: A Novel of Pompeii and Isle of Shadows.) Her novels always feel accurate and well-researched, which isn’t a surprise since her author’s bio says that “Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels.” The author’s notes at the end of the book (yes, I read those) say that this book is the author’s “most ambitious to date, both in scope and the amount of historical fact.” She has a way of clearly explaining the relationships between historical figures – including the many Caesars, Herods, and Ptolemys that show up in this book and the time periods before and after. I also enjoyed the main character in this book, Lydia, who ties all of these cities and rulers together with her story. The test for me is always whether I have to finish the book in one reading, or am able to put it down to read later. This was a finish-in-one-night book! The Queen’s Handmaid would be a great read if you’re heading on vacation for Spring Break next week, as you’ll be entertained, and will feel as if you have learned a little more about life in Egypt, Rome, and Jerusalem in 39-29 BC. Highly recommended. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review.
Karen02KD More than 1 year ago
This book takes the reader from the court of Cleopatra and Marc Antony in Egypt to the palaces of Herod in Palestine. The main character, Lydia, is a handmaid to Cleopatra. She is an orphan who has spent her life serving in the Egyptian palace, knowing nothing of her heritage or background. Her mentor and friend, Samuel, has spent years teaching her the stories of his people, the Jews. One fateful night, she finds him stabbed and dying. He gives her a mission to protect and eventually deliver the scrolls of Daniel to the temple in Jerusalem. After being given to Herod as a handmaid for his soon-to-be wife, Lydia travels to Rome and later Palestine. She finds Samuel has not given her an easy task, one that can be full of danger and may take years to complete. Her travels also bring up the question of her parentage and what does the disc on her necklace mean? Having read several of Tracy Higley’s books, I expected good attention to historic detail. She has done extensive research in ancient history and brings her personal travels and knowledge to each story. This book is no exception. Anyone who wants a good Biblical era story, with accurate setting and background, will enjoy this book. I received this from Net Galley for my honest review. .
mysterybook_nerd98 More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of the book from the publisher via BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. This book was a well- researched, well-plotted out novel. It flowed well, it was suspenseful, and the characters were fully realized. I enjoyed it very much. Lydia is the perfect protagonist.
TWJ_Magazine More than 1 year ago
This story is a stunner! Stopped in my tracks, I pondered over much that I read. Astonished that factually, this was shortly before Christ's birth, a fact I had not fundamentally grasped about Cleopatra and the cast of real characters’ existence in ancient history (i.e. Caesar, Antony, Herod to the Ptolemaic family). Author Tracy Higley wrote with intense acumen of the murderous politicians, their zealously for power causing turmoil and punishment for the citizens and royalty beyond imagination. I wish my history classes in school and college would have been so clarifying, they would have been much more fun. Ms. Higley begins this entrancing story about Lydia in 39 BC Orphaned at birth, and given to serve the palace in Alexandria, Egypt at a young age, Lydia is now a handmaid to the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra. Herod is about to make his first visit to meet the queen and everything is nervously aflutter in preparation; while Cleopatra is plotting manipulatively to seductively charm Herod politically into her power. Lydia has been summoned by her friend and mentor Samuel. She finds him bleeding and dying from unknown attackers upon her arrival, With only just enough time, he charges her with secret writings of the Prophet Daniel stored in a chest that must be delivered to Jerusalem watchers for the promised King of Israel. Lydia’s journey is long and dangerous and through action-packed events, ultimately becomes the handmaiden to Herod’s bride Queen Mariamme. Twisting and turning real historical events and people into gripping intrigue made A Queen’s Handmaid one of the best writings I have read. Spiritual mystery combined with the actual coming of Christ kept me glued to the story until finished. Ah, then there is the hint through a simple amulet that could reveal Lydia’s parentage. Whose head will roll next in the line of royalty? Which empire will be shaken next? Drama is highly described. Lydia has many frightening experiences and secret thoughts about all happening around her. Does romance figure into this story? Perhaps, however you will need to read for yourself this incredible book. Trauma is an everyday event in the royal palaces among the royalty and servants…..and that part of the book is not fiction and the players were real people. I enjoyed the questions at the end of the story and the answers to many questions I had about the research the author ensured before writing the book. Tracy L. Higley gave the reader a wonderful synopsis of information about the political kingdoms’ histories, which was personally greatly appreciated. Beautifully placed before the most important event in life, that remains the whole point of this remarkable story. Thank you Tracy Higley for the greatest history lesson I have ever had. I look forward to catching up with all your previous books before The Queen’s Handmaid. You are blessed! I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion by the Litfuse Publicity Group. I was not further compensated to review this product and all thoughts and sentiments expressed above are completely my own and unbiased. (TWJ Magazine strives to guide readers to books of personal interest, with the understanding and respect that what appeals to some may not appeal to others. Therefore we attempt to keep our reviews focused on content, genre and style. The rating is necessary to make use of Goodreads, B&N, and Amazon. It reflects the reviewer’s own level of enjoyment, but the review is intended to be informative for the benefit of all readers.)
Laura_Pol More than 1 year ago
"The Queen's Handmaid" was interesting and left me with mixed feelings which is why I'm giving it a 3.5 stars! The history that is woven through the pages is what really held my interest and intrigued me! I did not realize all that had been taking place politically and even spiritually before the time of Jesus! I knew things were chaotic at times, but I didn't fully realize how much the Jewish nation longed for the Messiah until reading this! After seeing how things were in just Herod the Great's rule I understand a lot more about the ideas of the people concerning the Messiah and how that related to Jesus! I have noticed throughout Tracy's novels that there is always an "evil" character who worships false gods with power coming from that worship. It usually makes me rather uncomfortable, but this was the first time that I truly appreciated her including this aspect of the story! Reason being is because she showed the true power of God and how He is so much more powerful then evil/darkness! I was left very humble in knowing that like Lydia God has given all His children a divine purpose that cannot be defeated by Satan even though he will try to stop it! What led me to ultimately having mixed feelings about this story though is how much time passed! There was a period of 4-5 years passing by in the middle of the novel that left me feeling disconnected with the main character! It wasn't until the near ending that I really felt a connection with Lydia again, but I felt like I had missed so much of her life! The romance was also an interesting mix that didn't quite sit with me because it sometimes felt confusing and then rushed (not consistently though)! Overall I would recommend "The Queen's Handmaid" because it did have a great spiritual message as well as a very eye-opening story to real historical events!