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Assyrian Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1988

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.

From Library Journal

In a quick moment of bravery, indicative of the man-to-be, young Tiglath Ashur stays the hand of the priest who is about to make him a eunuch. Assyrian law in the 7th century B.C. required that all sons of a king but one be castrated in order that there be no question of the succession. Tiglath Ashur and his brother Esarhaddon are close friends from childhood. They share games, secrets, initiation into the warrior's world, and even the same woman, until the question of succession arises. Tiglath, the natural leader, is the popular hero, but treachery places Esarhaddon on the throne, thus replacing brotherly love with hatred. This sprawling epic of unbridled ambition is overlong with battles, tortures, and debauchery. Homeric similes and metaphors and careful detail do, however, re-create a little-known historical period. A map would have been helpful. For larger fiction collections. Joan Hinkemeyer, Englewood P.L., Col.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Dell; Reprint edition (September 1, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440201977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440201977
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,540,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By J. Renaud on June 7, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
When I was a teenager, I absolutely loved this novel. Nicholas Guild's "The Assyrian" is probably one of the best introductions to Mesopotamia I can think of, and it propelled me to further study ancient Middle Eastern history, especially that of Assyria and Persia. This story is a colosally juicy read, with a fantastic amount of detail, and it mainly involves the adventures of the wronged yet virtuous prince, Tiglath Ashur, and his conflicted relationship with his brother, Esarhaddon, and his love for the lady Esharhamat, Esarhaddon's promised bride. There's lots of bloodshed, brutality, sex, and luridly described battle scenes, exotic religious rituals, and- most interestingly- visions of gods and other descriptions of ancient Assyrian spirituality. The Homeric/biblical style of the novel is flawless, and there is- thank God- no annoyingly preachy Judeo-Christian overtones. The inventive energy of the story is very engaging, and there's no boring exposition; nor does the plot seem to drag at any point, which is one of the biggest problems I have with epics of this sort.

However, I don't mean to say that "The Assyrian" doesn't have its share of problems. I've read this novel three times, and like such movies as "The Incredibles," this book does not seem to hold up on subsequent readings. Upon analysis and study, the number of cliches in this book are absolutely staggering. For starters, our hero Tiglath is dismayingly like a male Mary Sue (the fanfic term for a too-good-to-be-true protagonist). Not only does he have unusually light-colored hair and eyes, but he's brave, good, loyal, handsome, honest, romantic, etc. etc. In fact, I began to wonder: "does he have ANY faults?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By sandy807 VINE VOICE on May 26, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It has to be hard to write about a time as ancient as 700 B.C., but Nicholas Guild successfully transports us to the land and people of Assyria in this epic historical novel. I haven't done any research on this culture. I don't know what the people believed, or with whom they battled, or how they dressed, but Guild has painted here a credible picture of this setting in substantial detail.
Tiglath Ashur is King Sennacherib's favorite son because of his heroism in battle. Sennacherb wishes Tiglath to succeed him as king, but when the priests interpret a goat's entrails, Tiglath's less capable brother, Esarhaddon, is designated as the future king instead. In countless cases of history, brothers, fathers, cousins, etc. kill one another to claim the throne, but honorable Tiglath remains loyal to his brother and to the god's wishes. He does so at a price, however, losing the woman he loves and possibly the superiority of his country if placed in the hands of his incompetent brother.
Each of the characters in this book has a distinct personality and role to fulfill. There is Kephalos, Tiglath's roly-poly, loyal and entrepreneurial slave. Shaditu, Tiglath's royal sister, is an immoral seductress. The Lady Naqia, Esarhaddon's mother, is cunning and conspiratorial. All the characters are enmeshed in intrigue, politics, love, and revenge, and within this scenario, Tiglath searches for his own destiny. As honorable as Tiglath tries to be, he also is caught up in a culture which kept control of the surrounding lands through bloody battles, and horrifically gory punishments of its enemies.
With its journeys through far-away lands, its intrigue, passion, and details of battle, this book kept me entertained through its 550 pages, and I look forward to reading its sequel, Blood Star.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Stevens on May 28, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
While reading this wonderful book for the first time I felt I personally took part in all the great battles and adventures of the protagonist of this book, Tiglat Assur!
The books contains everything that marks an extraordinary book:
A significant protagonist, some strong opponents, a great love story, a story full of intrigues, little cruelties and unforgettable battle scenarios.
In addition to all these singular incidents the author tries to emphasize why such an august realm as the Assyrian one which was the greatest realm of its time could perish!

If you ever find this book in any bookstor or library, then go buy it!
This is simply the best book I ever had the honour to read, better even than "The Lord of the Rings" by Tolkien.
You will find many fictional elements in book as well:
Different godhoods that really seem to exist, and a floridness atmosphere on all the places the plot takes place!
All the approximately 550 pages are fraught with tension and interesting information about the Assyrian realm.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Murazor on November 5, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Guild's "The Assyrian" is right at the top of my favorite book list, right on with Tolkien's masterpiece. I study Assyrian culture at university level, so my interest has its source there. Guild gives a very nice and detailed description of the Assyrian culture in a genuine historical setting, and even manages to write one of the most exciting storylines I've ever read; a good mixture of adventure, love, war, sex and violonce. Guild tries not to veil any Assyrian custom which would not fit in our culture; on the contrary: he seems to take delight in describing them in detail, albeit through the eyes of someone who has just a little bit (but not too much) of Western conscience, so the reader will more easily feel at home in the rich Assyrian culture. It's also nice that Guild doesn't try to write around the religion being dead; by using divine incidents, but also by describing superstition, you get the idea that all the Assyrian gods and goddesses really exist, giving this book an almost Tolkien-like fantasy flavour. This means you will find no ethical Biblereferences or settings a la Ben Hur here. The fantasy effect is made even stronger by the adventurous kind of story, in which you will also get descriptions of other cultures through the eyes of an Assyrian. Love and sex are also certainly not neglected. If you like ancient cultures, fantasy and adventure I recommend this one. Too bad Guild never wrote a sequel (for as far as I know), as he half-so promised in the epilogue. Also too bad this title is out of print... I wonder why?
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