Monday, August 2, 2010

Stone Tables

Once upon a time, when I was still in high school, I took a course that proposed the very cool theory that the Pharaoh's daughter who drew Moses out of the Nile was actually Hatshepsut (very famous female Pharaoh). I thought this was an extremely intriguing idea and vowed to someday write a novel based on this concept.

Well, how was I to know that Orson Scott Card (whose brain is really too much like mine - it gets more insane all the time) had already written a novel on this very premise?

It is, of course, "Stone Tables" and is a book I propose should go on the shelf with novels like "The Robe" and "Ben Hur."

"Stone Tables" is quite simply the story of Moses, son of Hebrews, prince of Egypt, prophet of God. It sets the story of Exodus during the reign of Hatshepsut, a Pharaoh whose true story we will never be certain of, since her successor (and usurper) Thutmose III erased all mentions of her. This of course gives a perfectly valid theory for why there are no mentions of Moses in Egyptian chronicles. If he was the son of Hatshepsut, all mention of his existence would have been erased along with her name.

Card, as a devout Mormon, treats his subject with great respect, both historically and religiously. He states his Mormonism at the beginning of the novel (he actually wrote the story as a musical while working as a Mormon missionary in South America), but nothing in the novel will come across as heretical or offensive to Protestants or Catholics or other Christian affiliations.

What really makes this story work, of course, is that Card is a brilliant author and storyteller, and has a gift for making characters come alive. In this novel Aaron, Miriam, Zeforah, Jethro, Joshua - all the characters of the Biblical account and the Egyptians of history come brilliantly to life. They are all tied together by the question - how do we best serve our people, our country and our God (or gods, if they're Egyptian)?

Because of course Moses never wanted to be a Prophet. Aaron and Miriam had decided opinions on how things should be. Jethro was a Shepherd of Midian, but was he also a man of God? And what kind of a woman must Zeforah have been, to marry the most famous lawgiver in history?

This book is written for adults, but is completely appropriate for teen readers (again, along the lines of "The Robe" in age comprehension and appropriateness). For all of you who loved "Prince of Egypt" and "The Ten Commandments" and want to read a more accurate fictionalization of that famous Biblical story, I would highly recommend that you get yourself over to the library and check it out!

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