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Deborah R. Turner

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If I Perish
by Deborah R. Turner   

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Historical Fiction

Publisher:  PublishAmerica ISBN-10:  1591295246 Type: 


Copyright:  Sep 1 2002

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Publish America

The story of a young Jewish woman who becomes Queen of the Persian Empire and must then save her nation and her husband from an insidious plot.

Esther is removed from her modest Jewish family in Susa and thrust into the luxurious, decadent court of the Persian king, Xerxes. She must compete for the position of Queen against hundreds of other virgins. After intense preparation, Esther is called before the king. He is immediately smitten and marries her soon after


Just as she is adjusting to life as queen, she is swept up into a storm of intrigue and terror. An edict has been written – and stamped with her husband’s seal – that will end not only her life, but those of the entire Jewish race.

Faced with peril at every turn, uncertain who she can trust, Esther must carefully weave her way through a tangled web of palace intrigues before she can expose the man who plots not only the death of a nation, but schemes to seize the throne.


Professional Reviews

A five star review from Scribe'
If I Perish
Deborah R. Turner
Publish America
ISBN 1-59129-524-6

Picture a time when a man comes to power in a mighty nation. His personal goal is the slaughter of an entire race of people. His genocidal plot is known publicly, and no one tries to stop his diabolical scheme. Ethnic cleansing, genocide, and holocaust - terms we think of as contemporary, but the events in Deborah Turner's book, IF I PERISH, took place almost 2500 years ago.

Turner's novel is a superbly written account of the events that led up to the schemed genocide of the Jews who lived during the reign of the Persian King Ahasuerus. The author takes some license with the biblical Book of Esther to actuate events from antiquity for her modern audience.

We are brought to the King's court in Susa where Turner creates a memorable cast of characters. King Xerxes is a progressive monarch who listens to the advice of his wife, Queen Vashti. The princes in his court fear that their King will be the laughing stock of the empire; so they plot for Vashti's demise. Their efforts prove effective, but they lose the King's trust. That is when a carpet merchant, Haman, begins his rise to power. He soon becomes Prime Minister, the most powerful man in Persia, second to the King.

With Vashti exiled, Xerxes grows lonely. The princes suggest a contest. All the maidens in the land, from fourteen through twenty-one can compete for the King's affections. The chosen one will become Persia's new Queen.

Hadassah, a young Jewish girl just coming of age, has the poor luck to be gorgeous. She attracts the attention of the King's men who kidnap her from her home and bring her to the palace. Her identity is stripped, her name is changed to Esther, and along with thousands of other women from all over the kingdom, she is schooled in the ways of royalty.

Turner's work can keep the most studious of Biblical scholars at the edge of his seat with this page-turning novel. Her style is lucid, fast paced, with a descriptive flair that makes the people and places of ancient Persia come alive. For instance, there is one scene where Haman is requested by King Xerxes to lead a national hero on horse back throughout Susa. The reader can feel the pulse of the city--its sights, sounds, smells, and the humiliation that Haman felt due to this "demeaning" task. It was a joy to read.

As is the entire book, IF I PERISH. It's a thoroughly researched historical novel, cinematographic in scope. It tells an ancient tale of royal intrigue and terror. Esther must reveal a plot of genocide against her people at the risk of her own life. Turner has the talent to weave this biblical tale into a fresh look at ancient Persian court life. —Michael L. Thal

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Reader Reviews for "If I Perish"

Reviewed by Rita Gerlach 9/28/2003
Deborah Turner’s talent as a writer shines through the pages of her novel If I Perish. She took on the daunting task of writing a fictional account of the Biblical story of Queen Esther. Through vivid narrative and true-to-life dialogue, If I Perish is an excellent story that transports you thousands of years into the past, to the world of a young Jewish girl called of God to save her nation.

If I Perish, following the Bible’s account, is filled with intrigue, courage, and romance. The book opens with King Xerxes’ feast. He calls to him his wife Vashti, who refuses to obey the King’s command. Though the King loves his wife, he is forced to denounce her as his queen and send her away.

Pining away for Vashti’s love, the King slips into a depression. His ministers suggest he seek a new queen among the women of his kingdom. The young virgins are brought to the palace and placed under the watchful eye of Hagai the eunuch in the “House of Women”. Here the girls are groomed and taught the graces most desirable to the King for a purification period of one year. Among them is Hadassah, a young beauty full of grace and charm, and niece of Mordecia the Jew.

Hagai sees something different in Esther, and she wins his favor. He takes her “under his wing’ so to speak, and teaches Esther all she needs to know in order to win the King’s heart. Unknown to the eunuch is Esther’s Jewish heritage.

Deborah Tuner writes with sensitivity the meeting between King Xerxes and Esther. The King falls in love with Esther, and Esther returns to the King a tender love he never experience with Vashti. In If I Perish the author conveys the attitude that men had in that time period toward women, that a woman was a man’s property and subservient to men. But the King finds this is not at all true for his Esther. She becomes his confidant and lover, his friend and most loyal subject. Esther is chosen as Xerxes’ wife and queen.

Esther was advised by her uncle Mordecai not to reveal to the King her Jewish origin. Mordecai has grieved the loss of his dear Hadassah (Esther), yet believes that there is a great purpose for Esther.

Ms. Turner depicts Haman, the prime minister, as the Bible evil, self-serving man, bent on gaining all the power he can to the point he believes it is his right to be King. Haman hates the Jews, and his hatred is further flamed when Mordecai refuses to bow to Haman. Haman then persuades the King to rid the kingdom of all Jews, young and old, man, woman, and child. Haman does not know that Esther is a Jew and Mordecai’s niece.

The decree is issued. Mordecai becomes a target of Haman’s hatred, and Haman has a gallows built by another Jew, a gallows he intends for Mordecai. When Esther receives word of the decree, she faces the most challenging time of her life. She must speak to the King and reveal that she is a Jew, and then reveal Haman’s plan. No one, including the queen, could appear before the King without being summoned by him. To do so meant a sentence of death.

Esther risks her life to save her nation by entering the King’s throne room. She knows the King trusts Haman, but in spite of that, she follows through on a plan that had to be divinely inspired.

Before she goes to the King, Esther orders all Jews to hold a fast for three days and nights. She enters the fast as well with her servants.

On day three, Esther dresses in her best royal attire. She then enters the King’s throne room looking beautiful and radiant. Xerxes is smitten by her each time he beholds Esther. She stands in the inner court of the palace, fearing for her life, not knowing what the King will do. Xerxes holds out his scepter. She is free to speak to him. Esther asks the King and Haman to attend a banquet she will have prepared. Haman is proud the Queen has requested his presence and has no idea what is in store for him. After the banquet, Esther asks the King and Haman to attend another banquet the following night, where she will reveal her secret.

At the feast, Esther tells the King she is a Jew, and about Haman’s plan to destroy her people. Esther begs the King to spare the Jews and to delve out punishment upon the evil Haman. Haman begs for his life. Xerxes is extremely distraught, and walks out to the garden, no doubt to think over what has just been revealed to him. He had trusted Haman all this time, only to discover the cruelty and hatred of a plan to destroy the Jews along with his beloved Esther.

While Xerxes is gone, Haman begins employing Esther for help. He goes so far as to lay his hand upon her, and when the King enters, Xerxes believes Haman was attempting to force himself on Esther. He then orders Haman’s be hung upon the gallows Haman had built for Mordecai.
If I Perish is a book that is a reminder that self-sacrifice for the good of others is not only honorable but also far-reaching. If you have never read the Biblical account, If I Perish compels the reader to do so.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel and highly recommend it. In a world where most literature seems to be the same authors and the same kinds of stories, If I Perish is a refreshing change, with a fresh voice from a new writer who has great potential to take her readers into a new place. In your mind’s eye, you see the luxurious palace, and the richly colored silks that adorned Esther. The role of the eunuchs is made clear to the reader, for they, too, were men who sacrificed much in order to fulfill their duty to the King.

If I Perish reminds us to stand up for those in need, those in danger, and those who are persecuted. I give this book five stars!

Reviewed by Rita Gerlach / author of romantic historical novels.
The Rebel’s Pledge
Thorns In Eden
The Everlasting Mountains
Reviewed by Jeanette McKenzie 8/15/2003
I just finished reading your book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. The colorful descriptions allowed me to view it in my mind as if I were watching a movie. You do a superb job of telling this Old Testament Bible story. This should be sent to Warner Bros. so they can do a movie on your script. I could just see this in the movies. I know it would be a blockbuster. I am also a PA author. The name of my book is Higher Order Thinking Skills for Spiritual Abundance/Building Blocks of Knowledge. Thanks for an enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Joyce Scarbrough 4/10/2003
What an intriguing excerpt! The characters are already multidimensional and the whole scene plays out in the reader's imagination so clearly. I'll have to get this one!
Reviewed by Susan Weekley 4/10/2003
As a young child, I always loved the Bible story of Esther. Ms. Turner has taken a childrens story and written it with an adult flare, full of passion, intrigue, and betrayal. Although you may know how this story ends, you will want to read it again, just to enjoy it's more modern, realistic telling.
Reviewed by Marcyle Taliaferro 11/20/2002
This book is absolutely wonderful! Deborah Turner takes you on an enthralling journey to ancient Persia, into lives of servants and royalty and into thoughts of greed and power, loyalty and honor and ... romance.
Deborah's vivid descriptions give evidence of extensive research, enabling the reader to visualize every scene. She gets inside the characters and convincingly conveys them to the reader. The story is well written and fast paced; each step is an experience you won't want to miss.
Looking forward to your next one, Deb.
Reviewed by Erin Elder 11/16/2002
I found myself holding my breath as she walked into the palace. Very exciting! Good story.
Reviewed by Kevin Yarbrough 11/12/2002
I thought the book sounded really interesting and I can't wait to read it. I can't wait to see what xerxes will do, the Jewish race is marked for death and with them his wife. Intriguing.
Reviewed by Patricia Nelson 9/22/2002
This was good! The characters are alive and real. Certainly held my interest.
Reviewed by M. Toone 9/21/2002
As one how loved 'The Kadin' this book looks to be a winner! Can't wait to read it. Loved the excerpt!
Reviewed by Jane Deskis 9/7/2002
I'm glad your cover art finally came because I can't wait to get hold of the whole story. You are taking a great story and adding more life into it than even "Veggietales". Let me know when it is available.
Reviewed by Betsie 7/1/2002
An intriguingly exquisite novel, if I had to use comparison, it would be a modern day version of two undeniably classics: the King and I and the Ten Commandments rolled into one. Although I believe Yul Brynner would have been impressed with the changes.

In this tale, a King desires only to lead his people down a path of peace and progress. Instead he finds resistance from those who are distrustful and skillfully plan for his downfall. His chosen Queen is appropriately proper, witty, outspoken and opinionated layered with an outer beauty. She is always quick with a diplomatic and intelligent response, entrancing the King with her spiritual beauty. While, a coup in the making, the Prime Minister hungry for status and power uses great cunning as a covering excuse for hostilities against one nation.

Turner gives emphasis to ultra secularist political rumblings, social conflict followed later by battle for survival, as the result of one decree. But at the critical moment a handful of dedicated, loyal beings succeeded in averting – at least in part – the impending disaster. In Turner’s tale, we find a degree of comfort in the dateline we have just crossed, separating ourselves in time from a century we all remember with great unease. A great summer read!
Reviewed by Lisa 5/30/2002
Dude, this seems like a really cool book. A lot of christian books I read are sooooo lacking, but this, THIS is good stuff. I cant wait to read it! Keep up the excellent writing.
Reviewed by Marc(Marciano) Phoenix(Weber) 5/22/2002
Your incredible gift of painting scenes and breathing life into the characters is so evident that it brought back memories of a time when I was King Xerxes for a play. You appear to do justice to one of the best romances ever recorded!
Reviewed by penelope 5/21/2002
I was checking out Jennifer Lynn's message board and thought I would see what she liked so much about your book. Great beginning, would you mind letting me know when it is out, so that i can order one. keep up the good work. penel
Reviewed by Annette DeLore 5/15/2002
DON'T STOP ON ME NOW! I want to read what he says to her! Also I just know she's going to say something to him....Something special to let him know she's for him. Now you went and got me hook on this...I want to order!!! How long do I have to wait to read the rest of the book? This is going to be a GREAT BOOK! Congratulations and keep writing.
Annette DeLore (author)
Prisoner of the Heart
Reviewed by Jennifer Lynn 5/14/2002
Wow! You've got my attention, and believe me, that is hard to do. This is something I wouldn't mind reading more of.
You've done well at letting me see into the King's mind in only a few sentences. I understand his apathy, and it makes it all the more exciting when he realizes he's found the right woman.
Congratulations on a good piece. Let me know when the whole thing is available.

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