cover image Sarah


Orson Scott Card. Bookcraft, $22.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-1-57008-994-7

Although Card's popular science fiction and fantasy have always been permeated with religious themes, this version of the life of Sarah, Abraham's wife, is more in keeping with his lesser known Stone Tables, a reconstruction of the life of Moses. In his afterword, Card explains that here he is not an apologist for the Bible, but rather ""an apologist for Sarah, a tough, smart, strong, bright woman in an era when women did not show up much in historical records."" He takes the tantalizingly rich references to Sarah in the book of Genesis and determines to bring her to life for his readers. This novel is not an epic volume rich in cultural and historical detail about ancient Mesopotamia, Canaan and Egypt. Its focus is more what Card does best: exploring human motives and relationships, and the role of faith in individual lives. The entire novel is told exclusively from the point of view of Sarah and her sister Qira, whom Card has created as Lot's wife. Qira is the blind, selfish materialist who cannot understand the kindness or self-sacrifice of the faithful who surround her and who chafes against her husband's authority. Sarah, by contrast, is a wise and virtuous figure who struggles to have the unflinching faith of Abraham, even though she glimpses God's presence in her life only rarely. The narrative is sometimes uneven, and the sprinkling of references to LDS theology may be awkward for the non-Mormon reader. Overall, however, this playfully speculative novel succeeds in bringing Sarah's oft-overlooked character into vivid relief. (Oct.)