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The Assyrian

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Tiglath Ashur, son of King Sennacherib and a concubine, is reared in the Nineveh palace’s house of women along with Prince Esarhaddon and his other princely half brothers. Born at the moment of his godlike grandfather’s death and with the blood sign of the god Ashur on his hand, Tiglath is marked from birth as exceptional. At age nine he escapes castration, the customary fate of younger princes. He and Esarhaddon, the prince third in line for the throne, enter military training, where both their love for each other and their military prowess develop. As different as day and night, these two young princes grow to manhood without realizing that the intense love and friendship they share could turn, in time, into a deadly rivalry.

As rival heirs to the throne drop away, victims of palace intrigues, Tiglath and Esarhaddon begin to go their separate ways: Esarhaddon to assume the role of crown prince, Tiglath to become a skilled and revered warrior. Tiglath becomes the king’s favorite while Esarhaddon is despised. Tiglath falls in love with beautiful Esharhamat, designated bride of the future king, while Esarhaddon wallows in the perversion and sexual excesses of palace life. Tiglath, ever loyal to his god, seems above the intrigues of the palace and politics, while Esarhaddon, under the controlling hand of his ambitious mother, rises to power.

Nineveh and the ancient Assyrian civilization come alive as Tiglath Ashur narrates the story of his life. All the color, pomp, remarkable sophistication, and unspeakable brutality of his times are re-created as Tiglath, an ethical, heroic, yet humanly fallible young man, struggles to find and fulfill his destiny.

THE ASSYRIAN is an example of historical fiction at its very best. The first book in a proposed trilogy, author Guild’s absorbing story leaves the reader eagerly awaiting the next installment.