An effective tale for readers who like biblical history and legend with their young love.

Judah's Scepter and the Sacred Stone

In this debut historical romance, a Hebrew princess and an Irish warrior fall in love, but duty may keep them apart.

In 586 B.C., Jerusalem has fallen to the Babylonians. Princess Teia Tamar, almost 15 and the Judean king’s oldest daughter, must flee the city with the prophet Jeremiah, who brings with him the Bethel Stone that was Jacob’s pillow. They find refuge in Egypt, along with a scattered band of Hebrew refugees. Also in Egypt is Eochaid Finn, 21, son of Ireland’s high king. He’s sailed far from home, but legends say his people were originally an Israelite colony that came to Erin via Spain. Jeremiah reveals that it’s Eochaid’s destiny to rule in David’s line, a line that is also Teia’s, but his people must turn away from Baal. When Teia and Eochaid meet, they are instantly and deeply attracted, feeling as if they’ve always known each other. But they both have duties: Eochaid must return home, while Teia must serve her God and study Jeremiah’s scrolls. Over the next several years, Eochaid makes a dangerous sea journey, braving pirates, storms, and political intrigue once he reaches Erin. Jeremiah, meanwhile, insists they sail away from idolatrous Egypt with Teia as guardian of the Stone. This also becomes a treacherous odyssey, and a tempest blows them off course—to Erin, where Eochaid, now high king, is about to wed. Can the royal lines of David unite, with the Stone in their throne room? Brittain offers a well-researched, solidly described novel based on legend and history (a selected bibliography is attached) that’s bolstered by scriptural quotations on God’s covenant with Israel. The notion of this covenant as a kind of marriage is well supported in both the Old and New Testaments, which adds some weight and significance to the love story. The romance is chaste and feather light, seeming barely translated from a 1950s high school, with (for example) Eochaid’s torque standing in for a class ring. Brittain’s diction wobbles between high style (“I live for him, the Creator of all that we see…and all that remains hidden”) and contemporary (“Hannah put on a pouty face”), which can become jarring.

An effective tale for readers who like biblical history and legend with their young love.

Pub Date: July 3, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5069-0229-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: First Edition Design eBook Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet