My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Suspicion and jealousy cause a rift between Yosef’s sons Efrayim and Menashe when grandfather Yakov speaks a firstborn blessing over second-born Efrayim in Angela Hunt’s biblical fiction Journey. This schism is magnified by their dissimilar personalities. Menashe is serious, brooding, and intense while Efrayim is charismatic, fun-loving, and ambitious.
But sibling rivalry is not the only thing that separates these handsome, twenty-something brothers. When Menashe stays in Goshen with his relatives to mourn Grandfather Yakov’s death, he hears stories of his ancestors, the patriarchs, for the first time—stories his busy vizier father Zaphenath-paneah (Yosef) never told him. With these stories the dream is birthed in him of his people again living in their own land. Efrayim, meanwhile, in love with all things Egyptian, oversees the embalming of Yakov.
A trip to Canaan to bury Yakov, close encounters with Pharaoh and his powerful wife Tiy, Menashe’s obsession with the lovely but sightless slave harpist Jandayi, together with his growing conviction that it is his destiny to lead his countrymen back to Canaan make Journey a spell-binding read.
I especially liked the way Hunt brought Egypt to life in her well-researched setting. Here, for example, is the scene that meets Zaphenath-paneah and his sons as they enter the banquet room of the feast Pharaoh’s holds to honor them:
“In the centre of the vast hall an Egyptian drummer held his instrument at a jaunty angle and thumped out a steady beat. A line of trumpeters blew their instruments; one man lifted his horn toward the painted ceiling in a vain attempt to make his instrument heard about the others. A group of Libyans, recognizable by their ornate feathered headdresses, beat their clappers in a staccato rhythm, while in another corner a band of priestesses played their sacred sister, the delicate thumping sounds echoing through the room. The chamber seemed alive with noise, the sound rising from the musicians and dancers and then spiralling down again from the tall ceiling” – Kindle Location 2322.
For those interested in Bible themes, the story also delves into who God-Shaddai was to the Hebrews at this time through Menashe’s growing understanding of the history and destiny of his people.
Characters are complex and believable. I was especially fascinated by Tiy, Pharaoh’s scheming and powerful first wife.
For anyone wanting a rich, thoughtful, sometimes suspenseful experience of the Israelites in Egypt at the time of Joseph, Journey (Legacies of the Ancient River) is an excellent choice.