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A book by Nicholas Guild

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Only of Middling Quality

  • Dec 10, 1999
Although this book is nicely written and quite readable (especially for those whose bent is toward historical fiction set in ancient days), it is, I fear, written with a very Hollywood sensibility. One can almost see the spectacle of armies on the field of battle beneath the walls of Babylon, the smoke and the fire and all the decadence of the Assyrian court up on the Big Screen. Perhaps that is no indictment but an end to be sought. But the tale did not rise above that particular vision I'm afraid and was of a rather stock sort. It was also replete with all the harshly sadistic sexual overtones we've come to expect from such Hollywood-type epics (as well as from the biblical portrayal of these times and cultures). Well, perhaps that was really how it was, who knows? But I was rather disappointed by the lifelessness of many of the characters. On the other hand the tale was nicely told and kept me reading. But the end was clearly a set-up for a sequel, one I declined to purchase and read. I'd had enough of the wronged Assyrian prince, Tiglath, victim of the machinations of the harem, rightful king but for the passion of one petulant woman-child and the coldly calculating schemings of his half-brother/best friend's mother. What a world. If this was how it was, then leave it to Hollywood. Hope Mr. Guild gets a film out of it. Ought to be a hit.

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About the reviewer
Stuart W. Mirsky ()
Ranked #232
I'm a retired bureaucrat (having served, most recently, as an Assistant Commissioner in amunicipal agency in a major Northeastern American city). In 2002 I took an early retirement to pursue a lifelong … more
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About this book


Set in ancient Ashur (called Assyria by Greeks), this absorbing epic novel dramatically portrays two royal half-brothers whose childhood camaraderie later gives way to acrimony and violence. Tiglath and Esarhaddon, sons of aging King Sennacherib, grow up amicably and share rigorous military training. Their friendship dissolves when the king's priest proclaims the gods' decree that Esarhaddon will be the next monarch. Resentful of Sennacherib's preference for Tiglath and not eager to assume his prospective duties, Esarhaddon dreads his fate, while noble Tiglath unhappily refrains from usurping the throne out of a concern for his country's well-being. Even more disturbing to Tiglath, however, is the certainty that his lover, comely Esharhamat, must become the future sovereign's bride. Reeling with grief, Tiglath leaves Ashur to become a seasoned conqueror worthy of his compatriots' homage, yet a momentous clash between him and Esarhaddon still awaits. Guild (The Berlin Warning masterfully describes court intrigues and the feverish panorama of the battlefield, but the book's abundant merit lies in its timelessness and universality. This story of a passionately moral man torn among amorous longings, the seductiveness of power, fraternal emotion and cognizance of his nation's welfare holds many contemporary implications. Major ad/promo.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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ISBN-10: 0440201977
ISBN-13: 978-0440201977
Author: Nicholas Guild
Publisher: Dell

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