A week ago, CBS aired The Dovekeepers starring Cote de Pablo, former NCIS star. The story is based on Alice Hoffman’s book the Dovekeepers which featured events around the Sicarii rebels and their families taking of Masada, a desert fortress and the Roman siege which led to the mass suicide of the Jewish community. I was disappointed in the mini-series, I was intrigued by the story and wanted to read the book. The book features the perspective of four women: Yael, the assassin’s daughter, Revka, the baker’s wife, Aziza, a warrior woman and Shirah, the witch of Moab. All four women work in the dovecotes of Masada and each woman gives a story of how she came to Masada and the events leading to the siege in 73/74 C.E.
The story opens in the summer of 70 C.E. and the destruction of the second Temple and the exodus of the Jewish from Jerusalem. Yael is a woman who learned to be invisible as the daughter of a Sicarii, a secret group of assassins. She and her father flee from Jerusalem into the desert and toward Masada, a fortress whispered about. Masada was a fortress which the Romans cannot reach and has the protection of God. Revka arrives in Masada, heartbroken as her only daughter was killed by Romans. He grandsons have lost their voice due to what they have seen and her son-in-law, lost in his grief as vowed silence. Aziza is a woman who once lived as a boy and became a warrior for her mother feared her fate as a woman. She struggles between two desires. Shirah, mother of Aziza, whispered to be a witch. She knows ancient tricks for healing and reads signs blessings or curses. Through her eyewitness, the siege occurs and she tries to save the ones she loves. The book ends in Alexandria 77 C.E., two women and five children have survived. Who survived to tell the tale of Masada?
I enjoyed this book much more than I did the mini-series. As with any adaptation, the mini-series took a great deal out and twisted events around for dramatic purposes. The book was intriguing to see how the community built a life in Masada for so long and how long they fought against a power they despised. I also enjoyed seeing these women struggle with the same things we today struggle with when bound by rules or situations that may seem unfair. To see some women rise above it while others simply fall in line. I recommend The Dovekeepers.