Top critical review
Story of Masada
Reviewed in the United States on July 7, 2017
Six women depict Hoffman’s long and ambitious novel which retells the tragic event of the siege and defeat of Masada in 70 to 73 CE. The women: Yael, rejected by her ruthless father; Revka, the grandmother of two boys who witnessed the murder of their mother; Shirah, a medicine woman and her two daughters, Aziza, a warrior and Nahara, the rebellious, younger sister; and Channa, the barren wife of Ben Eleazar, the leader of Masada.
The novel, told in sections, reveals the story of each heroine and her journey to Masada. The women share their tragedies, disappointments, and secrets as they care for the dovecotes, always aware of the loss of Jerusalem, of Roman brutality and of the catastrophe that awaits them all.
The characters become difficult to distinguish between, the novel drones with repetitive description, spells, magic, and prayers to Ashtoreth that Jews (Israelites), left behind centuries before.
Whether or not two women and five children escaped death at Masada by surrender is unclear however, known is that when the Romans entered the palace on Masada, all were dead, as the 960 Jews preferred death to slavery under the Romans.