Harvest of Gold Tessa AfsharReviewed by Alyssa Katanic

I love reading historical fiction, especially when you can tell that the author has done his or her homework and has the facts, timelines, and culture down pat, as well as having the ability to weave them fittingly into a great novel! Tessa Afshar is one of those authors, and Harvest of Gold is a great historical read that incorporates ancient Persian and Biblical history, mystery, family dynamics and romance, as well as quite a bit of adventure!

Not only is Afshar a great historical writer, but she nails it when it comes to shaping a strong female character and capturing the emotions and “issues” that so many females share, despite culture and place in time. Things like body image, how we were raised and the relationships we have had (especially with our fathers), how our career fits in with who we are, and so on. I often find myself relating to different aspects of her characters and stopping to think on my own history and character development. Harvest of Gold‘s leading lady, Sarah, is one of those great characters that you won’t want to miss out on! 

Set in the time of the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem, following Israel’s release from captivity in Babylon, Harvest of Gold follows a husband and wife, Darius, a Babylonian military leader, Sarah, a Jewess and rare female scribe in Babylon, and Sarah’s cousin Nehemiah, the cup bearer to the Persian King and a leader of the people of Israel as based on the historical Nehemiah of the Bible, across the desert from Babylon to Jerusalem on an adventure to unravel a conspiracy against the Persian ruler and to rebuild the city of Jerusalem.

Along the way to Jerusalem, Darius must work to discover who, in all of the Persian provinces, has been plotting to kill King Artaxerxes. It will be a long and dangerous journey. Dare he allow his wife to accompany him? Being a Jewess, Sarah desires to see Jerusalem for herself. As a rare and very talented female Babylonian scribe (what we might describe as a record keeper and accountant), her talents would be useful to her cousin Nehemiah, as the rebuilding of Jerusalem gets underway. She was also a key factor to the uncovering of the existence of the plot against Artaxerxes in the first place. There would be so many benefits to having her with him, but Darius has no idea who he may be up against and just how dangerous this assassin might be and he doesn’t want his wife to be endangered. He knows he will miss his clever wife, and her logic and skill may help him find the conspirator as it helped to stop the first assassination attempt. He is torn. Would knowing about his wife’s pregnancy effect his decision to take her with him? Will she give him the opportunity to let it by telling him about the baby before they are scheduled to leave? If she doesn’t, how will he react to what he will inevitably feel is deliberate deceit on her part?

Harvest of Gold is actually the sequel to one of Afshar’s earlier novels, Harvest of Rubies, which follows the rough beginnings of Darius and Sarah’s relationship. Does he love her? Does she respect him? How do marriages usually work in the ancient Persian and Jewish cultures? How will it work for them, and how will their religious differences play into that? Darius and Sarah are quite the interesting couple! Find out more about the strong, quick, talented, and somewhat awkward Sarah and her handsome, strong and mysteriously complicated Darius in Tessa Afshar’s Harvest of Rubies, and don’t miss out on the further development of their relationship and adventures in Harvest of Gold!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Alyssa Katanic is a wife and homeschooling mother of 7 children under 11 years old. She loves reading and collecting great books to share with others and knows that one can never have too many!

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by River North. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.