Stone Tables * Orson Scott Card Book Review

In 448 pages, one of my favourite authors, Orson Scott Card, explores the life of Moses, life in Egypt, the Israelites slavery accounts and his adoption into one of the most powerful families – the one of the pharaoh.

This was quite an interesting read. Did you know that Moses stuttered? Did you know that his real mother breastfed him and taught him the language of the slaves? Did you know that the princess adopted the boy she found in the river to consolidate her power and said that the River God gifted her an heir? Did you know that instead of killing off the offspring of the Israelites as a form of population control, the Egyptians asked them to put them in a boat in a river and if they topped over and died it was the will of the Gods?

What about the fact that the priests had such a great power and were involved in politics and that the only way that Pharaohs could escape them was to declare themselves Gods?

It was a good book. Initially created as a play for Broadway, the script was taken and converted into a book to be read alongside other biblical stories like Sarah (Women of Genesis, Book 1) By Orson Scott Card and Rebekah (Women of Genesis) (Book 2) – Orson Scott Card

Nationally renowned author Orson Scott Card brings new insights to an age-old story. His creative fictionalization of the events of scripture and history lends a fresh and fascinating perspective. But this is more than just an entertaining tale. ‘My effort is to make sure that those who read this story emerge with an understanding of how good people struggle with each other and with their understanding of God’s will as they try to make some decent use of their years of life,’ writes Card. It’s a message as timely today as it was when Moses led Israel to freedom more than two millennia ago.

I especially enjoyed the first half of this book. It is fun watching as the far-from-perfect Moses grows up in privilege and luxury, ignoring his conscious and making grand plans for his future, all of which inevitably come tumbling down. Card’s portrayal of this part of Moses’ life (which very little is known about in history or legend) rings true and helps flesh out and give perspective to the more spectacular parts of his life. His exile and time of learning of God and courting Zeforah are also extremely well done, as Card brings his skills for creating intimately knowable characters to the fore. I was less impressed with the final 1/3 of the book, as God reveals himself to Moses and the miracles commence. Partly because this part of the book is already so familiar, but also because the book becomes a bit rushed feeling, and the drama of character interactions is put aside for the heavy action of Israel’s being freed.

In the end, this is more than just an enjoyable novel. It also provides a new perspective about the stories in Exodus, as well as inducing the reader to really think about the people behind these ancient stories. Additionally, it serves as an educational tool for those not familiar with the beliefs of the LDS about the story of Moses, something that I didn’t realize differed from the Biblical accounts. I’ll have to go back and do some reading of the primary sources now in order to tell exactly which parts of this came from the Bible, which from the Book of Mormon, and which from Card’s imagination.

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