Monday, April 2, 2012

Garden of Madness - Tracy L. Higley

"Garden of Madness" is the story of Tiamat, daughter of Nebuchadnezzar.  The writer did a fantastic job of painting a picture of ancient Babylon, life inside the palace, and the customs of the people there.  I felt like I was in a time machine of some kind and had the opportunity to travel back to 570 B.C.! It was obvious the author has a lot of talent, and I personally cannot fathom taking on a project this big.  The historical research alone must have been overwhelming.  You can't tell it from reading, though.  Even with all the stress of including historically accurate data, the author keeps her cool.  The story flows as it should -- never too fast paced, never a lull.  "Garden of Madness" by Tracy Higley was an incredibly insightful novel.
For those of you who are wondering how much of this is fiction, and how much is truth... this is based on a true story.  The truth lays in the history of the city, and the madness that overtook King Nebuchadnezzar.  Some of the characters actually did exist, and the book represents well their part in history.  Amytis, Amel-Marduk, and a few others.  The location of Nebuchadnezzer during his seven years of madness was assumption.  Tiamat, the main character, was fictional.  Both Pedaiah and Sheltiel actually existed, but little is known about them.  One of them did bear a son, Zerrubabel, who led the Israelites back to their homeland from their captivity in Babylon.  Which son it was and who the wife was is a mystery.  It was difficult while reading to separate fact from fiction, but she explains which was which in the back of the book if you read the Author's Notes.  All in all, I thought the author did a very good job of including as much history as possible in the novel without sacrificing the entertainment and imagination side of things.
This novel kept me up until the wee hours more than one evening, and had my husband wondering if I would ever sleep again.  This one is definitely outside the box. No Victorian era romance here.  I highly recommend it to those of you who love ancient fiction.
My only critique of this is that the cover could have been more compelling.  I liked the cover used on Mesu Andrews' novel "Love Amid the Ashes," for example.  That said, I can't wait until the next book from Tracy L. Higley!

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