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Apprentice

(Rav Hisda's Daughter #1)

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4.06  ·  Rating details ·  659 ratings  ·  100 reviews
Hisdadukh, blessed to be beautiful and learned, is the youngest child of Talmudic sage Rav Hisda. The world around her is full of conflict. Rome, fast becoming Christian, battles Zoroastrian Persia for dominance while Rav Hisda and his colleagues struggle to establish new Jewish traditions after the destruction of Jerusalem's Holy Temple. Against this backdrop Hisdadukh em ...more
Paperback, 452 pages
Published July 31st 2012 by Plume
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Shomeret
Jan 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This novel deals with the daughter of a Talmudic figure who lived in Persia. The main character, Hisdadukh, is mentioned in the Talmud. It actually means Hisda's daughter in Persian. Since relatively few names of women have come down to us from ancient Jewish sources, I would have assumed that the redactors of the Talmud had left her name out. Maggie Anton decided that Hisdadukh actually was her given name. I had a problem with this idea. She portrays Rav Hisda as a man who taught his daughter t ...more
Helen
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
On many different levels, I am grateful to Maggie Anton for writing this luminous book.

When you study Talmud--the oral law accompanying the Torah that was originally passed down by word of mouth and eventually organized, edited, cataloged and written down--you learn the names of many different rabbis. You read their opinions, you observe them arguing with each other, but for you, the reader, there's no way of knowing what era they lived in, or what events impacted their lives. On the same page,
...more
Maggie Anton
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Hisdadukh, blessed to be both beautiful and learned, is the youngest child of Talmudic sage Rav Hisda. The series about her unfolds in third-century Babylonia, in the household of her father, one of a handful of beleaguered rabbis struggling to establish new Jewish traditions after the destruction of Jerusalem's Holy Temple.
The world around her is full of conflict. Rome, fast becoming Christian, battles Zoroastrian Persia for dominance while Rav Hisda and his colleagues face defiance by those J
...more
Haven
Dec 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Rav Hisda's daughters takes a slightly different angle than the novels of Rashi's daughters. Jewish mysticism is explored more in this book. The heroine, Hisdadukh, is in a position where she has the ability to learn the ways of traditional Jewish women and amulet making as a trade. She also has the advantage of being able to learn Talmud and Torah from her father and his students. She excels in nearly everything she does and yet tragedy strikes her at nearly every turn.

As always Maggie Anton h
...more
Barbara
Oct 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I had never heard of Rav Hisda, but had so loved Maggie Anton's "Rashi's Daughters" my expectations were very high. At first I was disappointed.... All seemed too esoteric, too much of the hair-splitting arguments that bore me, but then I did finally get into the story. I know little to nothing, really, about this period of Jewish history during the Babylonian exile, and the story did bring the period to life. I was quite surprised at all the talk of incantations, amulets, demons and spells conn ...more
Steph
Aug 21, 2016 rated it liked it
Ok wow.

This was really interesting. And also fairly laborious.

The heft for me comes from the incredible detail and the references that forced me to pause, consider contextual clues, and then integrate into the vision the author was developing.

I read this at the recommendation of a friend who was delighted with the magic of the second book. I was very eager to understand what drew her in - as she is a lover of spiritual, divine feminine, juicy topics for me.

This is a story of historical weight an
...more
Carmen
Jan 06, 2013 rated it liked it
I like the exposure to this period in history. Specially the discussions about the law. I could have used less talk of romance and descriptions of the sort. It took way from the overall theme of the book. I would have liked more descriptions as far as the particulars of the time period (clothing, etc.) I found I had to look these things up to get an overall feel for the times. Complexity of theme and writing was fine, but a bit over simplified at certain points. Would recommend if you have time ...more
Tara
Mar 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite
This is one of my favorite books. You immediately feel as if you are transported in time. It is full of rich history of fourth century Jews in Babylon and the sorcery and superstitions they practiced. The characters are vivid and captivating. I couldn't put this book down and finished this and Enchantress in a weekend. The greatest thing about this book is that it centers on a woman who would have normally been overlooked and forgotten during this time in history. The author breathes life into a ...more
Lee Anne
Oct 24, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Recommended to Lee Anne by: saw it at Costco
Shelves: fiction
Did not care for this one. More than I cared to know about endless discussions of rabbinic minutiae, women's menses, & demons! Some of the content was a bit interesting regarding customs of Persia & Judaism in the 300's (?). Can't recommend as an engaging book; more of an endurance contest if one cares to finish it; I finished, but never really connected. ...more
Amy
Aug 01, 2012 added it
I enjoyed this book. It was good historical fiction, though a little dense with Talmud. Sometimes I just wanted to get back to the storyline. About 3/4 through I thought I wouldn't read the next one - but she left the ending hanging just enough that I want to find out what happened ...
Mindy Buenemann
Sep 05, 2015 rated it liked it
It was interesting learning about how the Jewish people structured their life around the laws of the rabbis. I am definitely happy not to have lived like this. Women had hardly any rights. They also mixed their biblical laws with superstitions.
Vivien Silber
Aug 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Another fabulous story from Maggie Anton! Loved it!
Elisheva
May 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
Historical Fiction is my jam. I was so excited to read this book about a young girl growing up in Babylonia. I was ready for Talmud, love, and sorcery as promised on the cover. Unfortunately, there was too much focus on the history that the stories lagged in all three promised subjects. The writing felt too passive to feel anything and I fell asleep every 10-20 pages. I enjoyed the topic and have even enjoyed this author’s previous books, but not this one. Perhaps the research of the era was too ...more
Lisa Liel
Mar 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I don't give out 5 stars very often. And I'd probably give 4.5 if that were an option. But the richness of the description of the Sages is just amazing. And learning parts of the Gemara afterwards and coming across statements or arguments that were described in this book was just so cool.
Deborah
May 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Very informative and historically rich with character development. This book had me looking for more info on the time period, because it makes you want to immerse yourself into the story. SO many facts based on real people; this book is #1 in a trilogy.
Lillian
Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Great read. Historical fiction. Lots of Talmud throughout
Janet
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed this book about ancient times when it was hard to be an independent woman.
Hal Schrieve
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a story about a girl/young woman in third century Babylonia who is the daughter of a famous rabbi and becomes an enchantress. Making bowls and amulets to protect pregnant women, children and travelers, she also studies Torah and debates issues of Mishna with her two successive husbands, both of whom are also accomplished rabbis. She combats witches and curses placed on her family while also fighting for a measure of power over her own life, children and land in a system that makes this p ...more
Toby Schonfeld
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this!
Batsheva
Oct 13, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: roman, jews, israel, historical
Based on a person mentioned only as "Rav Hisda's daughter" in the Talmud, Anton constructs an interesting portrait of life in a Rabbinic Jewish family in 3rd century Babylonia/Persia. I love the descriptions of daily life, such as farming or weaving cloth, as well as the status of women and the practice of magic. Many of the discussions in the book are based on Talmudic texts, as are many of characters. The research must have been considerable to create such a realistic and believable setting. R ...more
Claudia
Dec 31, 2014 rated it liked it
I chose to read this book as the subject matter interested me. We went to Israel last spring and my bible study is doing "Return to Jerusalem," so when I read about Maggie Anton's books, I was intrigued. I saw Ms. Anton at the local synagogue, and she spoke about the sorcery of the Talmud and incantation bowls, all subjects I knew nothing about. I found the book to be better than I expected, but there is LOTS of information about the various Talmud laws. Some of this is fascinating, and some is ...more
Jennifer
This book reminds me somewhat of the Red Tent. It is based on a jewish woman's perspective in Persia/Israel during the time of Roman occupation and after Jesus' death and the rise of the "Nazarenes". She is of a rabbinic family and thus has learned much of the Torah and rabbinic law from her father, grandfather and brothers. It is a story of love and love lost, life, faith and magic. Throughout the book she practices to become a Charesheta (sorcerer/enchantress). A Charesheta in this book is a w ...more
Sharyn
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This new series takes us farther back in history to the Babalonian exhile of the Jews and the beginning of the Rabbinic era. Anton's reasearch is so amazing! It is fscinating to see how the Persians and the Jews lived. The descriptions of the journeys back and forth between Babylonia and Palestina are particularly fascinating. The background is the wars between Rome and Persia, the beginning of Christanity, explantions of Zororastrianism, but most of all the Talmud. Took a little time to get int ...more
Diann
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
It was such an adventure to read historical fiction placed in the Jewish community in 3rd century AD Babylon. I'd never thought about what happened to the Jews who decided not to return to Israel, so it felt as though a whole new world was opening. The author presents Rabbinical Judaism with such interest and respect that I could feel its appeal for believers at the same time feeling gratitude for my own religious beliefs and practices. It gave me more context and understanding for the New Testa ...more
Margaret Klein
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
Maggie Anton writes wonderful works of fiction. Her first series, Rashi's Daughters, has an impact on all Jewish women today. In this newer series, we watch the main character grow up the daughter of a famous rabbi in 3rd century Babylon. She is allowed to listen into her father's text classes and learns mishnah with her grandfather. She is asked an important question by her father about matrimony, which of two scholars would she choose to answer. Her answer might surprise you! It surprised her! ...more
Megan
Dec 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
While I enjoyed Rashi's Daughters, I felt like the plots revolved too much around sex and I was pleased that Rav Hisda's daughter improved on this. While medieval fiction is fairly common, I can't even name another book that takes place in ancient Babylon under the Persian empire. Maggie Anton does an excellent job of transporting her readers to this exotic setting.

I thought the author had dug herself a hole regarding Abba bar Joseph, but she redeems him in an amazing mystical scene.

This is a
...more
Nathan Young
Jan 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was a very enjoyable read, which I had put off for far too long. The author was able to take people we hear bits and pieces about in the Talmud and weave a compelling story. I am looking forward to studying Talmud after knowing more about the writers' surroundings, and being able to envision the rabbis' characters in my head. I'm curious about a few of the elements in the story, such as observant Jews exclaiming "Elohim!", which we would not do today. Also painting blood on the doorposts on ...more
Nitya Iyer
Nov 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 3star
I think this book may have been my first foray into Jewish historical fiction. It was a pleasant enough read, with loads of interesting information about things I know nothing about like the Mishna and Baraita. But perhaps this book would have had no real effect on me if it hadn't centered around such an intelligent, vibrant and most importantly strong young woman. Her bold life choices and the community that allowed her to live as she did are fascinating, and well worth the hours it took to rea ...more
Mike
Sep 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Intriguing, researched and a flowing historical novel. As other Maggie Anton books, it is an excellent read grounded in Talmudic tracts. The book takes place in the third century on the shores of Babylon and Palestina subjects of Persia and Rome. Central character is an independent woman of will, means, intelligence, business acumen, and no less adventurous. It is a compelling story. I couldn't put it down.
Sylvia Abrams
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Maggie Anton has again tried to feature a little known woman from the Jewish past and has only partially succeeded. I found this novel too didactic, the same issue I had with her previous books. Anton tries to do too much. Hisdakikh comes off as wooden and rigid, while the other characters need more development. The author flood us with Mishna in the same awkward manner she used for texts in her earlier books.
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Maggie Anton was born Margaret Antonofsky in Los Angeles, California. Raised in a secular, socialist household, she reached adulthood with little knowledge of her Jewish religion. All that changed when David Parkhurst, who was to become her husband, entered her life, and they both discovered Judaism as adults. That was the start of a lifetime of Jewish education, synagogue involvement, and ritual ...more

Other books in the series

Rav Hisda's Daughter (2 books)
  • Enchantress (Rav Hisda's Daughter, #2)

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“Rav Hisda nodded. “Despite the dangers, people continue to travel, often for long distances. This is what you would inscribe on an amulet for your brother to protect him on a journey.

“May it be Your will, Adonai Savaot, that You conduct Tachlifa bar Haviva in peace, direct his footsteps in peace, and uphold him in peace. Deliver him from the hand of every foe and ambush along the way. Send blessing on his handiwork and grant him grace, loving-kindness, and mercy in Your eyes and in the eyes of all who behold Tachlifa bar Haviva. Blessed are You, Adonai, who harkens unto prayer. Amen. Amen. Selah.”
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