THE PEASANT KING by Tessa Afshar
GENRE: Historical/Biblical Romance (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Tyndale House
RELEASE DATE: November 7, 2023
Jemmah has always thought of herself as perfectly ordinary . . . until she faces extraordinary circumstances.
When her mother, the Persian king’s famous senior scribe, is kidnapped, Jemmah and her sister must sneak undetected into enemy territory to rescue her. But infiltrating their adversary’s lands proves easier than escaping them. Fleeing through dangerous mountain passes, their survival depends on the skills of a stranger they free from prison: a mysterious prince named Asher.
Asher is not who the world believes he is. Despite his royal blood, he has had to climb his way out of poverty to forge success from nothing. A manufacturer of some of the best weaponry in the East, Asher has only one goal: to destroy his father. But following his escape from prison, Asher is irresistibly drawn to Jemmah, unaware that she guards her own secret.
Jemmah must convince Asher to give up everything he has worked for, all for the sake of a higher purpose he’s not sure he believes in. The fate of the Persian empire—and possibly the Judean people—hang in the balance and in the persuasive power of one ordinary woman.
Bestselling author Tessa Afshar delivers another adventurous novel filled with romance and imagination, reminding readers of what Publishers Weekly calls her “amazing talent for packing action and intrigue into the biblical setting for modern readers.”
“God’s healing for you is coming in the little by littles of grace.”
Oh how I adore Tessa Afshar’s books! I am always immediately immersed in the characters, the setting, and the story and try to find the perfect balance between savoring each word and devouring it in one sitting. Inevitably, ‘devouring it in one sitting’ wins out because I can never quite seem to put down her books until I’ve reached the end. The Peasant King is no exception.
I’ve long had a deep affection for Persia and her people, so the characters and historical events depicted in Afshar’s latest are close to my heart. But even if I hadn’t already felt that way, I would have easily fallen in love with Jemmah and Asher and all of the other key players in The Peasant King. Jemmah is one of the delightful children of Jared and Keren from The Hidden Prince but you can read this one first with no problems. She loves fiercely and sacrificially and, while she feels ordinary and untalented, her courage to do what God asks of her proves her quite extraordinary indeed. I loved her positive spirit, her tenacity, her sense of humor, and her big heart. And Asher… oh Asher… let’s just say Jemmah isn’t the only who fell for him. He reminded me so much of Tangled‘s Flynn Rider – in all the best ways. The persona he adopts to goad the father who won’t acknowledge him has a lot of Flynn’s flash & bravado, but like that smoldering hero there’s a lot more depth to Asher than initially meets the eye. Watching Asher and Jemmah fall in love – their friendship, their banter (the beard!), their protectiveness of each other, their layered conversations, their kisses (swoon!) – was truly a pleasure. Also… Zarina is such a spitfire of a character and I really hope she gets her own story! And that great-grandmother near the end had me laughing out loud! What a delight!
But besides the romance and the adventure that we get to experience with Jemmah and Asher and the others, there are some key themes that really stood out to me in The Peasant King. Both Jemmah and Asher feel unworthy, for different reasons, and both have secrets they aren’t comfortable sharing. Through a couple of unique characters and plot points, the author weaves into their journey a reminder that God specializes in granting ordinary people the ability to do extraordinary things. He does not judge us by the same standards as those around us. Along with that is a related truth that should greatly encourage all of us who are tempted to grow discouraged with our current or future leaders. Through the unfolding of history and the subsequent fulfilling of biblical prophecy we read about in this book, it’s clear that God Himself is on the throne and works even in the hearts of rulers who don’t know Him to accomplish His purposes.
“None of us can even begin to estimate the threads of God at work in history throughout generations. Our mind cannot fathom the intricacy of his design. And yet he chooses to include us in his plans. Use us. Often in tiny intangible ways that we shall never comprehend.”
Bottom Line: The Peasant King is another richly written story of grace by talented author Tessa Afshar. There’s a reason she’s one of the only biblical fiction authors I read, and she proves it yet again in this latest novel. Her meticulous research, her attention to history, and her warm and witty writing voice make the sights, sounds, aromas, flavors, and people of the era come to life on the page. And as readers immerse themselves in the redemptive plot, they will fall in love with the characters, yes, but also ultimately fall more in love with God. Jemmah and Asher – and the people of Persia – have imprinted themselves on my heart, and I look forward to the author’s next book (which I hope features Zarina in some way!).
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from the publisher. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 3+ / will forget to breathe on occasion
Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of biblical and inspirational historical fiction. She holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University, where she served as cochair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. After working in women’s ministry for nearly twenty years, Tessa became a full-time writer and speaker. Tessa and her husband live in New England, where they proudly tend their mediocre garden. Connect with Tessa at her website.
Other Recently Featured Books by Tessa Afshar
Tyndale House is offering a print copy of The Peasant King by Tessa Afshar to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Peasant King by Tessa Afshar?