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The Serpent and the Staff

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The Serpent and the Staff, by Barbara Wood. Read by Jane Oppenheimer.

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Ugarit, Syria, 1450 B.C.E. Eighteen-year-old Leah, the eldest daughter of a wealthy winemaker, is past the traditional age of betrothal. Vowed to wed the wealthy but cruel shipbuilder Jotham, Leah declines his offer of marriage after discovering that he and his family suffer from “the falling sickness.” Enraged by her refusal and his ruined reputation, he blackmails Leah’s father, a punishment forgiven only by offering Leah’s hand in marriage. With no more options for another suitor and no male heir for her family, Leah must seek out the cure for Jotham’s sickness or her family will face permanent ruin. During her quest Leah begins to burn with desire for Daveed, the handsome household scribe whose culture forbids their union. Daveed has been called by the gods to restore the Brotherhood, an elite fraternity of guardians at the great Library of Ugarit, rumored to contain the secret symbol of immortality within its ancient archives. If his plan succeeds, it may also save Leah’s family from disaster. But even Daveed and Leah cannot fathom the extent of Jotham’s sinister schemes to make Leah his bride once and for all.

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The Serpent and the Staff