Book review by Maayan Ziv-Kreger
The Lamp of Darkness: Age of Prophets by Dave Mason with Mike Feuer (Lionstail Press), 2014
Lev is a 12-year-old Jewish shepherd living in ancient Israel during the time of the prophets. Lev gets invited by Uriel, a prophet, to travel to Levonah to play the harp for the other prophets during the summer gathering. This means leaving the aunt and uncle who raised him, his beloved cousin Dahlia and Lev’s flock of sheep. Before leaving, his Uncle gives him an inheritance- his father’s knife that carries a mysterious backstory. Lev goes to Levonah with trepidation and soon meets other musicians.
This is all interesting, though his real journey begins during the king’s wedding celebration when a Baal (idol) worshipper begins to influence and threaten the Jewish beliefs of monotheism. Lev sets out to help save his people’s beliefs. Uriel tells him,“Many are the paths we have walked to reach this point and many are the places from which we have come. Together, we seek dveikut- a true bond with the Holy One.” He joins Uriel who becomes his spiritual guide and teacher through the world of prophecy. “Know too that the reward is great if you purse the Way with discipline and commitment,” says Uriel. Lev then encounters a chance to claim his true identity while fighting for his teacher’s life.
The book is a nice mix of such pure joy, tragedy and grief. Each chapter begins with a quote from Ethics from the Fathers, a book of Jewish teachings, which highlights the theme of each chapter.
The Lamp of Darkness is historical fiction and the first in a new series geared for young adults. It’s told in Lev’s voice in the style of ancient times. The book takes awhile for the story to get going, though it’s an easy read; one that you can read on a rainy day with a cup of coffee or tea. Chapter two really starts the book; though chapter one is important, so read it. The characters are well developed; you will grow to care for them. At the end you’ll be left wanting more (which there will be!).
The Lamp of Darkness is based of a part of Melachim, a chapter from the Biblical Prophets. You won’t need background knowledge to enjoy the story because the author portrays the time period well through detailed description which helps picture the setting and capture the sensory details of ancient Israel. If you are interested in the time period, the author included an introductory video on the author’s website, http://www.theageofprophecy.com/video/
I recommend this book for both girls and boys who like somewhat complicated stories, historical fiction and settings in biblical times. Age: 11+
Maayan Ziv-Kreger is an eighth grade student at The Binah School is Sharon, MA. She enjoys the singing, dancing, drawing, writing, reading, one of her favorite books are Legend by Marie Lu.