By: Dan E. Hendrickson
Publication Date: September 2023
Reviewed by: Katie Specht
Review Date: August 28, 2023
From seasoned author Dan E. Hendrickson comes his eighth novel and his first based on Christianity, entitled Magi Apprentice. This book is the story of Rassan, a Parthian calvary cadet who is tasked with protecting the sacred star charts, delivering them to Babylon, and deciphering what they mean in relation to the birth of Jesus Christ.
The story begins in 7 B.C. as Rassan finds a destroyed caravan and a dying Magi. Before the Magi dies, an angel appears to him and instructs him to entrust Rassan with the sacred star charts that have been passed down from the first Magi Grandmaster Belshazzar. Rassan is commanded to protect these star charts at all costs and deliver them to Babylon to give to the new headmaster of the astronomical sect of the Magi.
Rassan then begins his apprenticeship under Headmaster Daraya-Vous as they work together to learn the significance of the series of astronomical configurations that occurred between 3 and 2 B.C. As Rassan is apprenticing under Headmaster Daraya-Vous, he begins taking an interest in Varaz, a priestess he meets in the market where she falsely presents herself as a merchant’s assistant. Rassan finds all his conversations with her incredibly stimulating, and he has to ask himself why he is so motivated to see and talk to her every day. The obvious answer comes to him almost immediately: that he is ready to take Varaz as his wife and needs to go about doing so the proper way. After speaking with General Bozan, his cousin and the temporary head of his family, General Bozan’s wife, and Headmaster Daraya-Vous about his wishes to seek a betrothal with Varaz, General Bozan agrees to draft a letter to Prince Phraates V detailing the situation and then to inquire with Varaz’s family regarding the conditions of the betrothal. However, the situation becomes complicated when Rassan learns that Varaz has not yet left the Temple and is still a priestess, which means that she cannot be married. After this deception by Varaz, Rassan has some big decisions to make regarding his studies and the woman he loves.
One of the highlights of the story is following along as Rassan prepares for a historical debate to clarify the true meaning of the zodiac and the divine message it conveys. Rassan will be presenting an argument that he learned from studying the sacred star charts passed down from the first Magi Grandmaster Belshazzar regarding the coming of the champion and savior, who will come to save the world. After Rassan’s presentation, it is clear that he has won over the judges and the majority of the audience members to his way of thinking. What follows is an epic pilgrimage to witness what is perhaps the greatest event in all of history.
Hendrickson’s story of the Magi finding Jesus in Bethlehem after his birth is historical fiction writing at its best. Hendrickson includes real-life historical figures, such as Prince Phraates V and Herod the Great while also creating believable characters to add to the story, such as Rassan and Varaz. He then interweaves an intricate, detailed narrative that seamlessly integrates his cast of characters while also keeping true to historical facts. History buffs, especially those with an interest in Christianity, will greatly appreciate Magi Apprentice.
It was also interesting that, as a reader who knew how this story would end, I still found myself anxiously awaiting the conclusion. The way Hendrickson brings it to a close brought chills down my spine as I read Rassan’s words when asked how he was feeling when the quest was about to be completed. The author did a superb job of painting a vivid picture for the reader during this epic, monumental conclusion.
Quill says: With Magi Apprentice, Hendrickson has written a historical fiction account of how the Magi found Jesus in Bethlehem that simply cannot be matched. This story has everything a reader could want in historical fiction: facts, historical figures, romance, and relatable characters, all culminating in an epic conclusion.
For more information on Magi Apprentice, please visit the author's website at: danehendrickson.com