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Babylon: Center of the World Paperback – Large Print, March 27, 2014
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From the Author
Dr. B. G. Brainard's passion is to bring theHebrew Scriptures to life one book at a time through meticulous research andexcursions to the Middle East. She is the author of two works of historicalfiction set within the ancient Near East: Esther's Song about the life and times of the biblical Esther living in aPersian harem, Babylon: Center of the World relates the story of the wise man Daniel'sfaithfulness to the God of Israel under bouts of persecution after being takenas a royal hostage by King Nebuchadnezzar king to Babylon, and JerusalemBound! about the return of the Jewish exiles Ezra and Nehemiah amongmany others from captivity in Babylon after the conquest of Cyrus king ofPersia. She has graduate degrees from Vanguard University of Southern Californiaand Portland State University, which fueled her life-long passion to make senseof the intricacies of the Hebrew Bible, Mesopotamian archaeology, and ancientNear East history. She lives in Oregon with her husband, five hundred orchids,and a little red barn.
From the Back Cover
Babylon: Center of the World opens with the biblical Daniel living in the city of Babylon that is about to fall to the invincible Persian army under the leadership of King Cyrus. Daniel was taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar as a youth when Jerusalem had been conquered decades earlier. Daniel was an interpreter of dreams, signs, and visions, including the handwriting on the wall of Belshazzar's palace heralding the end of the Babylonian Empire. The fall of Babylon to Cyrus was foretold by Yahweh, the God of Israel, and by Marduk, the chief god of Babylon; and was executed by worshipers of the Persian god Ahura Mazda. Then in fulfillment of Yahweh's promise to his people, King Cyrus issued a decree allowing Jews living in exile to return to Judah for the purpose of rebuilding the Jerusalem Temple. In the midst of this confluence of divine activity, Daniel stayed true to the God of Israel and lived an exemplary life.
B. G. Brainard's passion is to bring the Hebrew Scriptures to life one book at a time, through meticulous research and personal excursions to the Middle East. Readers may also enjoy Esther's Song: A Novel, which portrays the story of the biblical Esther set within the ancient Near East. The author lives in Oregon with her husband, five hundred orchids, and a little red barn.
To learn more about upcoming books that sympathetically envision the life of each character within the parameters of the biblical account and historical record, please visit bgbrainard.com.
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You can take a look at the author's photo and tell she is a knowledgeable lady. I believe the "Dr." in front of her name was honestly gotten. But as a writer, she just barely makes it, and that's where an editor and a proofreader could've saved her book. I love biblical fiction. I mean, for people who don't think the Bible is interesting, all I can say is, they must not have read it. It's all there--sex, violence, romance, history, faith, murder, love, war--you name it, it's there. And Dr. Brainard made a good choice of subjects here: Babylon, and Israelites living under Babylonean rule--how could such a subject be dull?
It starts off well, giving the reader time to adjust to the many virtually unpronounceable names as we sink into the story. There's a decent amount of world-building (not enough, but what's there is good) and the characters we are introduced to are interesting. And that's where most readers will, as I did, make the fatal mistake--we assume it will remain that way throughout the book. Only it doesn't.
First--and again, forgive me for harping on this in review after review, but if you're going to put your written words out there in front of the world, they should be decently organized. Dr. Brainard has no idea what commas are for and uses them indiscriminately, making many of her sentences almost unreadable. There are meaningless sentence fragments scattered throughout the book like a word bomb went off nearby and these things were the remnant. There are partial sentences, as if she forgot where the thought was going and so just dropped it without finishing it. Spelling errors are probably the least of the offenses--but don't worry, there are plenty of them, too.
Second--I love reading prophecy too, Dr. Brainard, but I can't understand why you felt a need to write the same prophecy over and over--once it looked like a large segment of the book was simply copied and pasted in another chapter since there was nothing new for us to learn in either segment. We got it the first time. Finally, about the third time we hear the Jeremiah prophecies, (still not learning anything new about them) we at least get the bonus of learning of Ezekiel's dry bone dreams.
Third--Dr. Brainard, please learn a little about how to write a book, and how to create and develop characters. You don't create interesting characters like Queen Nitocris and General Ugbaru and then just have them die "off camera" and not have a fuss made over it. Both these characters seemed like they were there to play a role in the book, but I have no idea what it was unless it was just that Daniel didn't have enough people to sit around and talk with. Even the two boys who called Daniel "grandfather," Seth and Gimillu, were abominably used. They were there throughout the book, and the Babylonian boy somehow (HOW???) ended staying with the Israelite exiles in their camp and (maybe never?) going home, but we don't know how this happened or what happened to them. I'd be interested to know whether Gimillu, after his repeated exposure to the Hebrew God and his power, came to believe in him, and if so, did this cause any conflict with his father the crafty high priest Marduknasirapal? One thing I always wondered about in the Bible--and which is even more of a mystery here--is how did the evil government ministers persuade Darius to create the law saying everyone had to pray to him. Darius, given the background we have on him here, seems like he would have no interest at all in such a law, and it makes me wonder if the background is accurate. Characters like Cyrus, over whom an enormous fuss is made, are never even shown. (It was nice, though, to learn about Darius--if the background provided for him is true. I had always wondered how Daniel survived so many kings; it makes more sense if two of them were ruling at the same time.) At any rate, characters are tossed around as if they had nothing to do with making the book interesting--and the book, and we the readers, suffer for it.
I don't know, it's a shame to take something as interesting as the captivity of Israel and turn it hollow, but Dr. Brainard managed it. This is a book that reads like a hammock--it's fairly tight at both ends, but there's an enormous sag in the middle. I received this book at a heavily discounted price, probably in the hope that if more readers bought the book it would garner more reviews. But if you want BETTER reviews, not just more reviews, Dr. B, you're going to have to learn more about writing...and please, get an editor and a proofreader.