Christian historical fiction writer Lynn Austin has won an impressive eight Christy Awards, which recognize excellence in Christian fiction. Her historical series, Chronicles of the Kings (Volumes 1-5) follows King David’s son, Hezekiah, in a riveting fictionalized account of his life and that of his son Manasseh. Although categorized as historical fiction, the series is also in large part biblical history. Lynn embellishes biblical events and figures to carry the story forward while staying very true to scripture, largely drawn from the Old Testament Books of Chronicles and Kings.
Each book is approximately 300 pages, and if you like historical fiction, this compelling series provides an engaging way to illustrate how God’s redemptive love can bring us through the toughest circumstances and will ultimately restore and sustain our faith. Here’s a look at what each book in the five-book series offers:
Book 1 ‘Gods and Kings’
The series begins as King Hezekiah, who is heir to the throne of King David, is targeted for sacrifice by his evil father, King Ahaz. Hezekiah’s mother, Abijah, is terrified her young son was taken and desperately seeks a way to save him. They must fight in a time of great turmoil around them, as evil Ahaz has abandoned worshipping Yahweh and turned his people toward pagan idolatry. As a mere child, Hezekiah witnesses the horrific sacrifice of his older brother Eliab. Hezekiah must rely on the godly teachings of his grandfather Zechariah, who is a Levitical priest. The future of his besieged country is on young Hezekiah’s shoulders. Can faith bring him through turmoil to turn things around?
Book 2 ‘Song of Redemption’
The second series installment chronicles the start of King Hezekiah’s reign in which he is faced with some difficult choices. First, in worshipping Yahweh, he can only have one wife as opposed to keeping a harem. So, he must find one woman to love. Second, he must rely on faith to overcome fear of an attack from the formidable Assyrian army. We also meet Jerusha, a young girl who is taken and enslaved by the Assyrian army. She endures rape and other brutalities and her capacity to survive and escape her captivity is a compelling tale. Overall, faith is tested at every turn, and we discover that faith in God is really the only thing to sustain us in any kind of challenge we face.
Book 3 ‘The Strength of His Hand’
King Hezekiah’s saga continues as his wife Hephzibah shakes his faith to the core with her betrayal. King Hezekiah has enjoyed a great reign and is distressed being without an heir. Hephzibah promises to sacrifice her firstborn to a pagan goddess. He becomes critically injured while in the midst of rage over her betrayal. He’s terribly ill until God grants him a reprieve. But, instead of being grateful and forging forth in faith, he tries to cement his earthly legacy by joining forces with pagan nations. Hezekiah is mid-reign and all of the efforts he made to restore the country’s faith start to crumble as a result of his choice. This well-drawn third installment also marks the end of King Hezekiah’s life and reign.
Book 4 ‘Faith of My Fathers’
The story continues with Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, taking his place on the throne. His boyhood friend Joshua is the son of the palace administrator and has also been prepared for leadership in Judah. Manasseh is angry at God for his father’s death and tragically turns to sorcery. Meanwhile, Joshua and his family suffer loss under Manasseh’s rule, so he begins to seek revenge against the man who has been his lifelong friend. Joshua forms a plan to rescue the small remnant of believers that remain and as the ensuing battle and hardship begins, Joshua faces an even bigger inner battle. Is he willing to risk it all to follow Yahweh, or will he fold under the pressure and run from his greatest responsibility? The installment reminds us of the tough choices we face in the name of faith, and how taking the righteous road most often won’t be easy.
Book 5 ‘Among the Gods’
The final installment in this captivating series follows Joshua as he escapes with his families and a small band of believers to Egypt. Life isn’t easy for Joshua, though, as he struggles with anger and bitterness toward his old friend Manasseh. We ultimately see how God can work in a human heart to effect great change. And, no matter how far off track we get in our spiritual journey, God’s redemptive love is always there to offer pardon for our transgressions and set us back on the path toward righteousness. Overall, it’s an inspiring and satisfying conclusion to an informative and engaging series.