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Stone Tables Hardcover – March, 1998
All Books, All the Time
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The story is accurate in it's portrayal of the character, at least as accurate as it is possible to be several thousand years after the fact. The details from the Bible are intact. There is no conflict at all. What additional material there is all makes sense and takes nothing away from the "sacred" texts the story is drawn from. The writing is, as always, far above that displayed by most of Card's contemporaries. (the man is truly a marvel and one of the greatest writers of the 20th century) The story moves along at a rapid pace and draws the reader along, forcing the turning of each page long into the night until the book is finally finished. The characters are real, living and breathing, telling us their story and forcing us to believe.
I love this book. I love all that Orson Scott Card has written but this is one of my favorites. It sits proudly on my book shelf waiting for a second, third, fourth read. It's perfection in the form of a book.
I especially enjoyed the first half of this book. It is fun watching as the far-from-perfect Moses grows up in privilege and luxury, ignoring his conscious and making grand plans for his future, all of which inevitably come tumbling down. Card's portrayal of this part of Moses' life (which very little is known about in history or legend) rings true and helps flesh out and give perspective to the more spectacular parts of his life. His exile and time of learning of God and courting Zeforah are also extremely well done, as Card brings his skills for creating intimately knowable characters to the fore. I was less impressed with the final 1/3 of the book, as God reveals himself to Moses and the miracles commence. Partly because this part of the book is already so familiar, but also because the book becomes a bit rushed feeling, and the drama of character interactions is put aside for the heavy action of Israel's being freed.
In the end, this is more than just an enjoyable novel. It also provides a new perspective about the stories in Exodus, as well as inducing the reader to really think about the people behind these ancient stories. Additionally, it serves as an educational tool for those not familiar with the beliefs of the LDS about the story of Moses, something that I didn't realize differed from the Biblical accounts. I'll have to go back and do some reading of the primary sources now in order to tell exactly which parts of this came from the Bible, which from the Book of Mormon, and which from Card's imagination.
It gives more life to the story of Moses than one might find in the scriptures alone, while at the same time it seemed to stay true to the identity of Moses as a man of God and the message of the Bible. Orson Scott Card's wonderful use of intelligent wit, humor, drama, and reverence seemed wonderfully and appropriately used in order to better capture the power of God's story through Moses and his people. Now I want to go back and read about some of the other well-known figures, and I am certainly more interested in branching out and reading other religious fiction novels by other writers. This book made a great impression on me!