784 ab urbe condita—31 AD. Jerusalem sits uneasily in a Roman Empire that has seen an industrial revolution and now has cable news and flying machines — and rites and morals that are strange and repellent to the native people of Judaea.
A charismatic young leader is arrested after a riot in the Temple. He seems to be a man of peace, but among his followers are Zealots and dagger-men sworn to drive the Romans from the Holy Land.
As the city sinks into violence, the stage is set for a legal case that will shape millennia — the trial of Yeshua Ben Yusuf.
Intricately imagined and ferociously executed, Kingdom of the Wicked is a stunning alternative history and a story for our time.
Helen Dale is a Queenslander by birth and a Londoner by choice. She read law at Oxford (where she was at Brasenose) and has previously worked as a lawyer, political staffer, and advertising copywriter (among other things). She became the youngest winner of Australia’s Miles Franklin Award with her first novel, The Hand that Signed the Paper, leaving the country shortly after it caused a storm of controversy. At the time, the media discovered Helen’s identity and legal name. This promoted much debate on the nature of identity, ethnicity, and authenticity in Australian literature. Despite the adverse publicity for the author, the novel won the 1995 Australian Literary Society Gold Medal.
When Dale submitted her novel to the University of Queensland Press in 1993, she said it was based upon recorded interviews with her own relatives, among others her uncle “Vitaly Demidenko”. After the awards, the Sydney Morning Herald mistakenly reported in 2005 that the novel had been submitted as a non-fiction book. The author’s 1993 note accompanying her manuscript had read: “The things narrated in this book really happened, the things they did [are] historical actualities.” Then Dale wrote that she was presenting her book as fiction, saying: “But this is also a work of fiction. I have presented it as fiction….”