This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Released on July 8, 2014
One of the reasons that I read Historical Fiction or Historical Romance is to be transported to a new place and time, to learn about a long ago culture, to see universal themes that I can relate to even now, but of course I love a rousing good romance, intrigue and adventure too. This story was all that and I only reluctantly clicked to the acknowledgements page at the end because I really could have stayed with this story even longer because of how much I liked it. The historical setting is 2700 years BCE Mesopotamia which was the biggest draw, but the story description of a woman determined to survive the early days of the conquest that brings her adopted people and city into the cruel, brutal reign of the Akkadian Empire was tantalizing too. She is given to one of the enemy and she must do what she can to survive even if it means taking him as a husband and ruler.
Princess Nindalla is Sumerian by birth, but was betrothed to a prince of Susa when she was young. She had to watch from a distance as the Akkadian army rolled through her homelands, raping and pillaging as they went before torturing and slaughtering her own family. Now here they are at the doorstep of her adopted homeland. Her husband and the king with their smaller army wage war even while she goes through the travails of giving birth to a hoped for son. Her husband prefers his concubine, but Nindalla isn’t cruelly treated so she wishes to do her duty and please him in this way. Little does she know that loss and change are come for her once again. The kind Sumerian soldier that is the only one there to help her deliver her child is also the very same man who will claim the city and her under his governorship. She is repulsed at the idea that one of her own people would serve the brutal killers that wiped out their home. She can never give herself to such a traitor or can she if it means protection for her children.
Ur-sag-Enki’s life began as a simple common farm boy who dreamed of a destiny intertwined with that of the young beautiful Princess Nindalla. How was he to guess that years later fate would bring them together in the most unlikely way? As a captain in the Akkadian army, his general has surprised him with the governorship of Susa with the condition that he have things in hand including the fiery Princess Nindalla. Ur-sag-Enki sees his chance to leave the machine of the army to start over. He will build up this city and lead it well and he will have the happy, peaceful family that he always wanted with Nindalla. That is as soon as he gets past her anger over his seeming traitorous association and the fact that it was his knife that ended her late husband’s life. Put that with the struggle to understand a new culture, learn its language, win the trust of its suspicious people and see through the machinations and intrigues of those who would seize power for themselves in a turbulent transition.
Alright, I found this book impressive. It was an amazing story that had me engaged from cover to cover. The historical setting was painted with such color and depth. It was foreign to me and yet it was described in such a way that I saw it well in my imagination. There was enough use of antiquated names, objects, ways of thinking and doing that I was convinced that I was reading about that time period. That being said, this was not heavy going and didn’t detract from the story. It only added to it.
There is a lot of political intrigue going on as well as shifting of powerful pieces. There are several characters that are deftly drawn in this story. Very few are just walk-ons or background parts. Ur-sag-Enki was an interesting choice for hero. He is a commoner who started life as a farmer’s child, was inducted into a hard warring and conquering army of the Akkadians and now he is faced with civil governing responsibilities. Through it all, he is really a gentle soul that just wants to do his duty by his new adopted people, live at peace, love the woman he has dreamed of since he was a boy and raise a family. He doesn’t understand plotting and greed nor does he have an ounce of cruelty or artifice in him so he comes across as naive and weak though anyone who would disregard him as so would be wrong. He’s a survivor after all he has endured and he is strong in a quiet way. He is a beta hero in point of fact.
Nindalla is Ur-sag-Enki’s opposite. She is royal by birth and behavior. She is strong and understands power and politics just fine. She is one who underestimates the man who wises to claim her. She can help Ur-sag-Enki govern Susa, but can’t decide if he means all that he promises. She is not just a princess, but a mother too so her children are her priority. She is drawn to Ur-sag-Enki on an emotional level, but she has to make decisions coolly and calmly with her head. He is not necessarily her best bet for her and her children’s survival.
As an aside, I liked how the author included the glossary and notes to make things easier and provide enrichment to the book.
In summation, this was fantastic and I would definitely read more of this author’s work. I would recommend this to historical fiction fans of Mesopotamian History and Historical Romance fans who enjoy an enemies to lovers intrigue set in ancient times.
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