Dekker (Outlaw, 2013, etc.) makes the spiritual real through the fictional Maviah, daughter of Rami bin Malik, Bedu sheikh.
It’s A.D. 30. Maviah has returned from Egypt into her father’s reluctant care. She was born illegitimate, her father’s daughter by a woman from an outcast Bedu tribe; thus, her exile. Now she’s been returned from Egypt because she’s given birth to a baby son “without a suitable husband.” Her father is the Banu Kalb’s great sheikh, but contrary to nomadic traditions, he settled at Dumah in the Northern Arabian desert, allying with his wife’s uncle, Nabataean King Aretas. Now Nashquya, Malik’s wife, dies, her death robbing Maviah of protection and jeopardizing Malik’s power. Aretas gives his support to the Thamud, an aggressive Kalb enemy. Worse, Malik is betrayed by Maliku, his son. As Malik’s overthrown, he dispatches Maviah to Palestine. She’s to convince King Herod to persuade Rome to support the Kalb. Dekker plunges headfirst into this complex scene-setting, thereafter ramping up drama with Maviah’s perilous trek across the desolate Nafud desert. Dekker’s descriptions of the Nafud’s dangers—think Lawrence of Arabia—are powerfully done, as are his portrayals of the perils posed by the clashing customs of Arabs, Jews and Romans in an era when women were property. Dekker’s secondary characters sparkle as well, including the Bedu Judah, a convert to Judaism who’s entranced with Yeshua of Nazareth. A nicely scripted romance develops between Judah and Maviah—“Judah was like water to my heart”—but as Maviah seeks Herod at Sepphoris, she worries she’s “too common to win the favor of a king.” Then she meets Yeshua—“I could not doubt I was looking at more than a mere man.” What follows are machinations at Herod’s court and then pain, imprisonment and swordplay at Aretas’ Petra court, before Dekker offers an ending supporting his announced sequel.
Action-adventure, set against the life of Yeshua, the prophet who dared speak against “the way of the world, protected by position and sword and gold and knowledge.”