This novel is not at all what I expected. The novel is about Maviah, the daughter of a powerful Bedouin sheikh, once outcast and now recently returned. Enemies attack but Mavia escapes with the help of two of her father's warriors. They set off to seek the alliance of King Herod. Later, Maviah travels to Petra and after some time there, makes a brief trip to the Sea of Galilee and Capernaum, then back to Petra.
There is a great deal of Maviah's story before we even get close to Jerusalem. We finally meet Herod on page 150. Jesus finally makes a page and a half appearance at 223. Jesus appears in about thirteen more pages, four of which are a dream sequence. For a four hundred page book which says we will experience the Way of Jesus as we never have before, there was very little of Jesus to experience. The novel is, by far, about Maviah and her actions in trying to save her kingdom.
We did get to read what some of His disciples thought about Jesus' teachings as well as Maviah's response to encountering Him. I really liked this thought of Maviah when she meets Jesus: “I knew that he was Yeshua because I was sure that only the most powerful mystic could at once pierce me with such singular gaze and leave me feeling perfectly safe and unscathed.” (223) It was also interesting to read about being on a boat on the Sea of Galilee during a fierce storm when, suddenly all goes still.
I do think Dekker gives the followers of Jesus too much credit in understanding the true nature of the kingdom. Of Jesus' teaching, Nicodemus says, “Not yet and already. Paradoxes all, understood only by the heart, beyond the mind.” (221) I just don't think, reading the gospel accounts, people had that kind of understanding until after Jesus' death and resurrection.
Dekker says in his Author's Note that, while Maviah's journey is fictionalized, nothing else in the novel contradicts well supported historical records. While this is fiction, it reflects the attitudes and actions of the place and time. If you like historical fiction with a cameo appearance of an actual historical person, you'll like this novel. Don't expect this novel to be about Jesus, though. As Dekker says at the end of his Author's Note, “And this is only the beginning...” (402) It will be interesting to see if the next novel (A.D. 33) continues to center so much on Maviah or will have more of Jesus in it.
Ted Dekker is a New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty novels. He is known for stories that combine adrenaline-laced plots with incredible confrontations between good and evil. He lives in Austin with his wife and children. Learn more at TedDekker.com.
Center Street (Hachette Book Group), 415 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review