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In a Milk and Honeyed Land Paperback – January 27, 2016
About the Author
Richard Abbott lives in London, England. He writes about the ancient middle east - Egypt, Canaan and Israel - and has also contributed to the lively academic debate about these times.
He also writes science fiction set in the near future of our solar system. He has a keen interest in exploring how human and artificially intelligent individuals will combine and relate to each other.
His first book, In a Milk and Honeyed Land, explores events in the Egyptian province of Canaan at the end of the Bronze Age, around 1200BC. It follows the life, loves, and struggles of a priest in the small hill town of Kephrath.
A follow-up novel entitled Scenes from a Life begins in Egypt. It follows the journey of a scribe as he travels to discover his origins. down the Nile from Luxor and finally out into Canaan.
A third book, The Flame Before Us, is set in the middle of calamity. New settlers are arriving from the north, sacking cities and disrupting the established ways of life as they come. This story follows several different groups each trying to adjust to the new situation.
Richard Abbott works professionally in IT quality assurance. When not writing words or computer code, he enjoys spending time with family, walking, and wildlife, ideally combining all three pursuits in the English Lake District.
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Top customer reviews
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I took my time with this book, not wanting to rush through it, so I could savor the language, the imagery, and the details. I felt transported to the world of these early Canaanites. One scene in particular struck me, and I can still remember it vividly. A scene in which two mothers have a serious talk while a young baby lay on a blanket near them. It was expertly done, so realistic and believable, with the mothers both paying attention to the baby while also focusing on what they needed to say. Little movements by the baby, the mothers grasping his hands, the way the child's mother picked him up and nursed him all added to the realism. I've never encountered a book written by a man who portrayed the connection and intimacy between a mother and a baby so perfectly and with such sensitivity.
For those who like battle scenes, there are those as well! They were done with equal skill.
You don't want to skip the author's notes at the end either. The author provides the historical background of the story and much more. I really enjoyed the notes.
The only criticism I have is that I got lost at the beginning with all the names. There were quite a few and since they were so different from what I'm used to, it took a while to figure out. Once I started reading it as a biblical story, I got past the names and got into the story.
I'm definitely going to read more by this author.
Dysfunctional families, unhappy marriages, loss of loved ones, the burden of taxes, dishonorable leaders, an unsure future.... How do people get through crisis after crisis, continue to bear uncertainty and pain? In a world that's ever-changing, ever-shrinking, how can we maintain our unique identities without closing ourselves to wonderful and sometimes essential new possibilities? The characters in "In a Milk and Honeyed Land" survive trials and bone-crushing sorrow by being true to themselves and true to each other, never forgetting the bonds of family, friendship, and community. They hold what's important ever before them and face challenges head on, sometimes accepting change, sometimes rejecting it. If they could do that at the end of the Bronze age, we can do it, now.
The story is set around 1200 BCE, in the area of Canaan, in what is modern day Israel, Palestine, and Gaza, towards the end of Egyptian rule in that region. It follows the life of village priest Damariel as he, his family, and his village encounter life-altering changes, some naturally evolving and others harshly forced. Most of us know of the Canaanites only in the writings of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. It's interesting to view them as real people, made entirely sympathetic and dripping with humanity by author Richard Abbott. Scholar, historian, poet, Dr. Abbott knows his subject matter well and he is a gifted storyteller. He reveals this ancient world with gripping emotion and stunning simplicity. Flowing, eloquent descriptions of the region, traditions, music, and writings of the people of those times immerse the reader. I felt as if I were there, standing at "the high place" with the world spread out before me, walking in an ancient olive grove, hearing the soothing notes of a lyre. I wanted to be there, to be part of the exhilarating festivals, to share in the people's sorrows, to face their challenges with them. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough, yet I hated to see the book end.
Considering the depths of emotion explored, the lessons conveyed, and the story told, "In a Milk and Honeyed Land" is an astonishingly easy read. More than that, it's utterly beautiful.
If you are interested in being transported to a different, vital, time and place and are ready to be engrossed, refreshed, rejuvenated, I urge you to give yourself the gift of "In a Milk and Honeyed Land" by Richard Abbott.