Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Like Mayflies in a Stream
I just finished reading Like Mayflies in a Stream by Shauna Roberts and I can highly recommend it. “Mayflies” is a retelling of certain aspects of the Gilgamesh legend, but it’s told primarily from the point of view of the woman named Shamhat, who is a priestess of the goddess Inanna and the mother of one of Gilgamesh’s many children. Shamhat is a very realistic character and very sympathetic throughout the book as she strives to obey what she sees as the will of her goddess. That often means putting her own wishes second, and it means putting her life repeatedly in danger.
“Mayflies” is a hard book to categorize. I suppose it would generally be considered a historical novel, and Roberts certainly did her homework on ancient Mesopotamia, as her “resources” section indicates. However, as she also indicates, not a lot is known about the time of Gilgamesh and she had to intersperse what she could find out about that age with information gleaned from later periods for which we have better records. In that sense, perhaps “speculative historical” might be apropos as a descriptor for the book. There is also a strong feeling of fantasy/mythology about the work as well, so it has many elements.
However you describe the book, though, it is a fascinating read. I really found myself caught up in Shamhat’s struggles and I much enjoyed the background detail that brought the ancient world to life. Through the last half of the book, in particular, I didn’t want to put it down. I read most of the last half at one sitting. And Roberts’ passion for the story and the characters came through clearly. If you’re interested you can find Like Mayflies in a Stream on Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.