The Hittite Mass Market Paperback – May 24, 2011
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“Excellent. A thrilling and inventive retelling of the legend of Troy.” ―David Hagberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Expediter
“Commpletely convincing and emotionally satisfying; the adventure and warfare are gripping enough to keep me awake to finish the book in a single night. I hope that when I'm [Bova's] age, I'll be doing--as he is--the best work of my career.” ―Orson Scott Card, New York Times bestselling author of Ender's Game
“A cast of stars, all seen through the eyes of a Hittite warrior. With authentic battle scenes and the reality of siege warfare, THE HITTITE is an adventure you'll want to undertake.” ―Barbara D'Amato, Mary Higgins Clark award-winning author of Foolproof
“Bova gets better and better, combining plausible science with increasingly complex fiction.” ―Daily News (Los Angeles)
“Bova proves himself equal to the task of showing how adversity can temper character in unforeseen ways.” ―The New York Times
“[A] cautionary but hopeful thriller… modern twists and a genuinely surprising ending.” ―Publishers Weekly on The Green Trap
About the Author
Ben Bova is the author of more than a hundred works of science fact and fiction, including Able One, Leviathans of Jupiter and the Grand Tour novels, including Titan, winner of John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best novel of the year. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation in 2005, and in 2008 he won the Robert A. Heinlein Award "for his outstanding body of work in the field of literature." He is President Emeritus of the National Space Society and a past president of Science Fiction Writers of America, and a former editor of Analog and former fiction editor of Omni. As an editor, he won science fiction's Hugo Award six times. Dr. Bova's writings have predicted the Space Race of the 1960s, virtual reality, human cloning, the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars), electronic book publishing, and much more. He lives in Florida.
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The Ancient Middle East intrigues me, particularly the Hittites, who spoke an Indo-European language. Recognizing Ben Bova's name, I decided to read my first adventure story about a Hittite. It wasn't completely what I expected because Lukka the Hittite and his remaining men made it all the way to Troy in search of his wife and two sons. Were historic timelines and facts bent a bit here and there? Yes, but it was an adventure story that brought characters from the Illiad to life in all their glorious imperfection through the eyes of Lukka the Hittite.
Was I completely satisfied with the story's outcome and direction? Truthfully, I was about 90-95% of the time, and I feel that Ben Bova pretty much delivered a good read!
Top international reviews
The Hittite is different. In stark contrast, the writing style here is sparse, the book is short, the chapters only a few pages each. That's not a complaint as such - just an observation - but it's certainly surprising given Bova's usual style. In a way there is a slight feeling of disappointment, because I expected an historical fiction epic just as packed and action-filled as Bova's sci-fi novels. This new style has both advantages and shortcomings. On one hand, the sparse style is judicious, offering us carefully considered snippets of information without becoming meandering or overwhelming. However, on the other hand, I almost felt like I didn't get to know the characters that well, beyond an intriguing but frustratingly elusive rough sketch of some interesting personalities. In regards to pacing, this style of writing quality at once made the story feel like it fairly clipped along and that a lot happened despite the sparseness of the writing. Yet strangely at the very same time I also got the strange sense that events were progressing so quickly that not enough time was spent into really going into each one in more depth. As a result I both liked and found problems with this different style that Bova utilises in The Hittite.
In terms of plot, it wasn't what I expected. I scrupulously avoided any hint of spoilers ahead of time, so I cracked open the book expecting a novel set in the Hittite empire and found instead a new retelling of The Iliad. I love the story of The Iliad, it's a timeless tale, but the problem with historical fiction set in the Trojan War is that it's one of these that has absolutely been done to death. It can be very difficult to get a new angle on it and make it fresh and exciting, something that people want to read. Even for a Trojan War lover, how many times do I really want to read the same story? Bova's angle is to tell the story from the perspective of Lukka, an outsider from the Hittite empire, who gets involved with both Trojans and Mycenaeans. Okay, that's a different premise. And Bova does change events up a little. But it's not enough. If an author's going to do the Trojan War, by this stage I think they have to put a whole new angle on it or stay faithful and write it really well. Bova's angle isn't different enough - too much is still predictable, despite the scattering of new material he throws in, and the sparse writing style can't make up for it by at least creating a richly absorbing retelling. This was frustrating as I'm familiar with Bova's usual packed-to-the-brim writing style, which is quite the engrossing read, and we just don't get it here.
Which brings me to Lukka. Like I said, interesting premise to bring the Hittites in on the Trojan War. But I had issues with Lukka. Not glaring issues that ruined my enjoyment of the book, but just the kind of slightly irritating peripheral issues that mean you didn't quite enjoy it as much as you might have. As Lukka tells us this tale, and we as readers see events through his eyes, it'd be pretty boring if he just sat by the sidelines the entire time and didn't play an important role. However, I felt that Lukka veered just a little too much towards "Mary Sue" territory. I'm sure that Bova didn't intend to write it that way, but when an original character is brought into established canon - especially canon as established as Homer's Iliad - and is presented as an important contributor and gets mixed up in all the key events... it reminded me of fan fiction Mary Sue characters who get just that sort of treatment - waltz on in to established canon of a book series and are miraculously involved in every important event and become themselves a crucial character - when in the original canon they didn't exist and weren't needed at all for events to play out.
Bova is a good writer, and I had hopes for this book, but it just doesn't hit the mark. It's a bit dull and predictable and the writing style is so different from his usual signature style. It's a reasonably enjoyable read but that's it, there's nothing more to really engage or excite. It's just "okay". Mildly enjoyable, but just too mediocre. Not fresh or in depth enough, and the main character whilst likable is unmemorable.