Acclaimed science fiction author Card (Ender’s Game, Speaker for the Dead) turns his attention to the stories of Rachel and Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah in his series of unusually text-based novels on the lives of the biblical matriarchs. The women are treated with both interest and deep respect, developed as real people while at the same time as the pillars of Judaic tradition that they are. All four of the women are handled sympathetically, and Card fills in the blanks in the histories of the handmaidens, Bilhah and Zilpah. Where there is no background in the bible, Card lets his imagination roam free and creates believable, emotionally involving stories. Still without straying from the word of Genesis, he also creates a deeper Lot than usually appears, and a rather interesting Jacob as well.
Card mentions in his author’s note that the book was intended to be one volume, but simply kept growing. This, the first in a projected two-volume set, ends with an extremely original view of Jacob’s marriage to Leah.