Child of a slave, raised as a prince, so begins Bondage, book one in The Moses Chronicles. H.B. Moore is well known for her scripturally based novels and her new series based on the Old Testament story of the man who delivered a vast population of slaves from the drudgery and misery of their Egyptian overlords is a powerful addition to the many retellings of this epic story.
Reared by a princess of the royal family, Moses knows nothing of his true heritage. He comes of age with royal cousins, participating in foolish pranks and challenges with them until the pharaoh decides their antics need to be curbed and it’s time for them to assume adult responsibilities. Pentu is to be trained to lead the military, Ramses as prince regent takes on governmental responsibilities, but Moses is given no real responsibility beyond being betrothed to a woman he doesn’t even like.
Miriam, a Hebrew slave, is drawn to her little brother who was set adrift in a basket on the river eighteen years ago and rescued by a princess. She often seeks out an opportunity to catch a glimpse of him. Her father and brother, Aaron, fear for her safety and determine to find her a husband. She has several suitors, but is unenthused about all of them until Caleb admits his feelings for her.
Egypt is attacked by neighboring Lybia and the Hebrew slaves are forced into battle. Moses begins to see the slaves as real people and becomes aware of the many injustices they are subjected to. Awareness of his position in the royal family and his increasing sensitivity to the injustice perpetrated upon the vast population of Hebrews leads to climatic events that send him fleeing for his own life.
Moore is good at characterization. I don’t always visualize characters as she does, but I’m always impressed with how thoroughly she creates believable characters and brings them to life. Her Moses is a normal, idealistic teenager on the verge of manhood caught between wanting to be someone important, proving himself, and fulfilling his own inner expectations. Miriam was a little harder for me to see through Moore’s eyes, but still a believable character torn between her natural inclinations and the society forced upon her. Both speech and actions fit their time period and their ages. Secondary characters are distinct individuals and add strength and dimension to the story.
Perhaps because she lived for a long period of time in the Middle East and perhaps because she and her father, S. Kent Brown, are excellent researchers, the background and setting for this story are authentic and fascinating. Though the story of Moses is familiar and often referenced in both religious and secular books and media, Moore gives the story a fresh, new twist and allows Miriam to play a larger role than is usually attributed to her. Bondage is based on scriptural and historical facts yet the book is still fiction and as such the dialog and day to day actions are the product of the author’s imagination, simply one person’s concept of what might have happened. However, Moore is meticulous about following the known elements of the story.
Strong characters, a compelling plot, realistic background, an educated vocabulary, prose that flows beautifully, along with a spiritual element that feels right and natural make Bondage a pleasure to read and an impressive start to a new series. This book is easily my favorite H.B. Moore book.
Heather B. Moore is a prolific writer who writes in multiple genres under the names Heather B. Moore and H.B. Moore. She writes both fiction and non-fiction. She attended Cairo American College in Egypt, The Anglican School of Jerusalem in Israel, and earned a bachelor of science degree from Brigham Young University in Utah. She edits in addition to writing and is a busy wife and mother.
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BONDAGE, BOOK ONE OF THE MOSES CHRONICLES by H. B. Moore, published by Covenant Communications, 236 pages, soft cover, $16.99. Also available on CD and for e-readers.