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I'm a writer and library worker who wears many hats. I believe a good book and a good piece of chocolate are the keys to a happy life.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Servant to a King by Sariah S. Wilson

Well, here we go. I’ve found a totally fun new LDS novel. Servant to a King by Sariah S. Wilson was just about the best book I’ve read in a while. I devoured it quickly and completely enjoyed the ride! It was fun, fast paced, and entertaining.

Do you remember the beginning of Ammon’s story with King Lamoni? That’s the part where Ammon is captured and vows to become King Lamoni’s servant despite the offer of marrying the king’s daughter instead? Very noble and righteous to be sure, but have you ever wondered what the daughter thought of this whole arrangement? I mean, really. What would you do if your father tried to hand you over to a complete stranger (and foreigner from enemy territory at that) and then you were rejected by that same strange? Ouch. Here’s where Sariah creates a totally lovable heroine for Ammon’s story, despite her sometimes too obvious boundary issues. Meet Isabel, who is the oldest daughter of King Lamoni. She also sees it as her personal mission to make Ammon’s life as miserable as possible—let the games begin!

You do get to experience the Book of Mormon culture and learn a little bit more about life for those we read about in the scriptures. That’s always a nice added benefit of well-done historical fiction. I totally loved that Isabel had worry dolls. I had a set of those things for years. They were awesome! There were a few times, however, where things of the ancient Lamanite world were explained more in 21st century terms, rather than in terms of things Ammon could relate to. I took me momentarily out of the story but it was totally forgivable and I couldn’t help but jump right back in to the page after a very short, “huh?” moment every now and then.

My only other complaint about Servant to a King is the name. The cover gave me a hint that I could expect a fun book rather than a serious exploration of the scriptures. (Don’t get me wrong, the story is accurate and insightful it just entertains as much as it educates.) But the name did nothing to encourage me toward the book’s purchase. I could glance at the cover and say, “Okay, we’re probably talking Book of Mormon”. The back cover would help me get it a little bit more, but if I were faced with just the spine of the book the title would not have shouted out to me that this was a “must read”. It deserves more attention that the name suggested it might get on a bookshelf.

Do me a favor. If you’re wandering in a bookstore and notice this title peaking out of the stacks, take it out and turn it so everybody can see the cover as they walk by. Somebody with thank you for it, I’m sure. Oh, and if you haven’t read it yet yourself, you do have my permission to pick up the book and head straight to the cash register yourself. It’s definitely one you won’t regret spending the money on.

Though not her only published work, Servant to a King is the first novel I’ve read by Sariah Wilson. You can bet I’ll be watching her career with interest from now on. Super job, Sariah!

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Cheri J. Crane said...

I haven't had a chance to read this book yet, but I'm looking forward to doing just that. Thanks for the review.

Sariah S. Wilson said...

Wow - thanks for the great review! It was so much fun to come across this today.

And I will agree that I do sometimes put things in modern terms - but that's mainly because I'm writing it for a modern people and not for the Nephites. (Plus there's the whole fact that I don't speak Nephite or Lamanite, so that would render the whole thing moot.) :)

Word verification: aeckeyea - def.: what I scream when I see a spider.

Sariah S. Wilson said...

P.S. - The original title I'd chosen for this book (which was quickly rejected) was The Nephite Who Loved Me. Everyone teases me about it, but I think it would have more perfectly conveyed 1) the whole Isabel thinking Ammon is a spy and 2) would let you know right off the bat that this was an entertaining rompish sort of book set in the Book of Mormon. But alas and alack, authors have no control over such things.

Alison Palmer said...

Ha! Now I totally love the rejected title. Alas is right. Thanks for stopping by Sariah!