The book of Esther stands out from all the other books so far in that it's like a fairy tale, heavy on plot, and not a mention of God. Strange, but true. Like Ezra, it's just 10 chapters long, but unlike Ezra or Nehemia it's written in the third person.
The story goes something like this: the King of everything (from India to Ethiopia) decides to get rid of his wife, Queen Vashti, because she won't submit to being shown off to his friends wearing the royal crown. He decides to look for a new queen by seeing which local virgins are most beautiful. Wow. Feminism wasn't even on the horison yet. The King finds Esther the most glamorous and takes her as his new queen, not knowing (and here's the first twist) she's a Jew.
Esther was raised by her cousin, Mordacai. He learns of a plot to have the king assasinated and sends a message to Esther to warn her.
Meanwhile, there's a bad guy (naturally) named Haman who gets a chip on his shoulder about Mordacai because Mordacai refuses to bow to him. Haman gets so angry he declares war against all Jews and tells the king about his plan to destroy "a certain people" for their insolence. The king (stupidly) agrees without realizing he means Jews. When Mordacai learns of Haman's plot, he again sends word to Esther...
...who tells the king she wants something. He says, "Yes, darling, half my kingdom for you. Anything." And so she asks to have Haman over for dinner. After the dinner the king again says she can ask for whatever she wants and she says she'd like to do dinner with Haman again the next night. Of course Haman thinks he's going to be rewarded for something (because it's not every day you get to have dinner with the king and queen). The only damper for Haman is that damned Mordacai who's still not sucking up to him like everyone else. He decides to have a gallows built in front of his place to hang Mordacai asap.
Unfortunately for Haman... the next night when he goes to the royal palace the king says, "Hey, Haman, what do you think I should do for a man who the king wants to honour?" Haman thinks he means himself, BUT... Haman doesn't know that the king just found out it was Mordacai who saved his life earlier and he is referring to him, not Haman, as the honoree. Haman's like, "Well, I think you should make him rich, and lead him around town on your best horse letting everyone know how great he is." The king loves the idea and tells Haman to lead Mordacai around town, shouting his greatness. Haman is mortified and furious.
After the second dinner date with Haman, the king tells Esther again she can have whatever she wants, and she says she wants a promise that the Jewish people will not be harmed. The king, surprised, asks who is planning to harm the Jews, and she tells him it's Haman. The king, furious, storms out of the dining room for a moment (to compose himself, perhaps?) and Haman falls down next to Esther to beg her forgiveness, but when the king comes back in it looks like Haman's coming on to her, so the king is now super mad. "I want you hanged," he says, "but, damnit, there's nowhere to hang you!" Just then his officials speak up and let him know that, actually, there is a great place to hang Haman. In his own front yard. And so it is. Haman is hanged, as well as his 10 sons, poor bastards, and the king tells Mordacai to inform the Jews they should defend themselves against the edict to have them destroyed. (Why the king can't just reverse his own edict, I don't know.)
The Jews win victory against their enemies and Mordacai becomes super rich and famous and the Jews live happily ever after (for a while). The end.