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Moon of Israel by H. Rider Haggard
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Moon of Israel (1918)

by H. Rider Haggard

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H. Rider Haggard imagines the life of a prince of Egypt in the months leading up to the Exodus. Seti, son of Pharaoh Meneptah and his heir apparent, is sympathetic toward the Hebrews. He even falls in love with one of them – Merapi, also known as the Moon of Israel. Their romance is at the heart of the novel.

The story is told in first person by a scribe, Ana, who is Seti's closest confidante. The plot required him to be close to Seti so that he could be present for or otherwise overhear the conversations that advanced the plot. Conversations and events that happened away from Ana's presence are repeated or described in detail in order to convey this information to the reader. These information dumps weigh down the narrative. It's hard to build narrative tension when the informant is describing things that have already happened.

Spoilers ahead

I'm too familiar with the biblical account of the Exodus to suspend my disbelief in Haggard's characters and interpretation. While Moses and Aaron make a brief appearance in the story as unnamed prophets, the Egyptians blame Merapi for the plagues. Merapi is viewed as a princess and perhaps even a prophetess by her fellow Hebrews, and this minimizes Moses and Aaron's leadership roles. Moses spent the first third of his life in Pharaoh's household, yet even the oldest characters in this book don't talk about him or even seem to recognize him. Haggard gives the Hebrews a temple and priests, but in the biblical account the priesthood and tabernacle were introduced in the wilderness after the Israelites had left Egypt.

H. Rider Haggard is mainly remembered as the author of King Solomon's Mines and She. This book is deserving of the obscurity it's fallen into. ( )
1 vote cbl_tn | Mar 24, 2017 |
Moon of Israel is an amazing retelling of the Biblical story of the Exodus from the view point of Ana, the Egyptian scribe. Ana provides a down to earth naration of the ancient egyptian times during the reign of Pharoah's Meneptah, Amenmeses, and Seti. It is the story told from a different viewpoint that includes historical information, action, adventure romance, and internal struggles that are still seen in today's times. The main story follows the direction with Prince Seti who is heir to the thrown and who is forced to marry his half sister Userti. The comical events leading to that can be admired by everyone. However, Prince Seti is disinherited because he doesn't follow his fathers', Pharoah Meneptah, idea of slaughtering the Jews. Thus, Amenmeses takes his place as heir. But when the plagues of Egypt occur and the eventual release of the Jews, Amenmeses decides on revenge and finds his life at stake. Throughout it all Prince Seti discovers more of who he is and what it means to rule a nation that is in the turmultuous state it is left to him in. The love story of two cultures colliding together and the struggles the couple faces in the quest to be together is very moving.

I really like reading this story. The fluidity of the plot and how it was written and described was amazing. ( )
  jessica_reads | Mar 24, 2015 |
Moon of Israel is an amazing retelling of the Biblical story of the Exodus from the view point of Ana, the Egyptian scribe. Ana provides a down to earth naration of the ancient egyptian times during the reign of Pharoah's Meneptah, Amenmeses, and Seti. It is the story told from a different viewpoint that includes historical information, action, adventure romance, and internal struggles that are still seen in today's times. The main story follows the direction with Prince Seti who is heir to the thrown and who is forced to marry his half sister Userti. The comical events leading to that can be admired by everyone. However, Prince Seti is disinherited because he doesn't follow his fathers', Pharoah Meneptah, idea of slaughtering the Jews. Thus, Amenmeses takes his place as heir. But when the plagues of Egypt occur and the eventual release of the Jews, Amenmeses decides on revenge and finds his life at stake. Throughout it all Prince Seti discovers more of who he is and what it means to rule a nation that is in the turmultuous state it is left to him in. The love story of two cultures colliding together and the struggles the couple faces in the quest to be together is very moving.

I really like reading this story. The fluidity of the plot and how it was written and described was amazing. ( )
  jesssika | Sep 9, 2014 |
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Published in 1918, Moon of Israel is the dramatic retelling--in a very down-to-earth narrative style--of the Biblical story of the Exodus from the viewpoint of a lowly scribe. It was one of the earliest Haggard books to be released as a film (1924).

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