Cover image for Gilgamesh
Grundy, Stephan.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2000]

Physical Description:
575 pages ; 25 cm
A retelling, based on Assyrian clay tablets written in the seventh century BC, of the legendary exploits and adventures of the god king Gilgamesh, who ruled in ancient Mesopotamia (now Iraq) around 2700 BC.
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An epic adventure from the earliest days of civilization, this is a tale of greatness and glory that has been passed down through untold generations. Stephan Grundy -- whose stunning retellings of timeless legends have earned him resounding international acclaim-now reawakens a peerless hero as old as human memory and celebrates once more his mighty deeds and magical destiny.

"I am Ensi of Erech, son of
Lugalbanda and Rimsat-Ninsun,
two-thirds god and one-third man."

A warrior, impetuous and proud, an insatiable lover, and a man of restless, violent spirit, Gilgamesh has been chosen to guide his kingdom in times of war and peace. His strength and courage are unsurpassed, yet his reckless heart threatens the land and the people who are dependent upon his sober, benevolent rule. He has spurned the gods with his arrogant refusal to take part in a sacred ritual. And they, in turn, have responded by creating one who is his equal -- a beast-man, lord of his own feral domain -- who will lead Gilgamesh on a remarkable quest of accomplishment and discovery, and hasten the destruction of a tragically flawed hero's realm and legend.

Moving across a richly evoked Mesopotamian landscape and written in a style that brilliantly and faithfully recalls the great epics throughout history, Stephen Grundy's Gilgamesh is an extraordinary achievement: a sweeping saga of gods, magic, adventure, and poignantly imperfect humanity that is at once compelling, original, and relevant to any epoch.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Grundy's earlier works of historical fantasy (Rhinegold; Attila's Treasure) turned ancient Germanic lore into entrancing, informative, modern-day page-turners. His giant-sized third novel works the same magic on the world's oldest written narrative, the eponymous Sumerian epic poem. Gilgamesh is the temporal, spiritual and military leader of the Sumerian city-state of Erech. "Two-thirds God and one-third Man," he is the strongest, boldest and most intelligent of his line of rulers; he lacks only one thingÄthe wisdom to see beyond his own desires to the good of his people. Failing to rein in his whims, the chief priest and priestesses ask the gods to send Gilgamesh a worthy companion. Enkidu, a "wild man," is found running with lions and is drawn to human company by an enticing woman. He learns the ways of civilization and becomes fast friends (and in this version, lovers) with Gilgamesh, but the outcome is not as the priests intended. Gilgamesh and his city-state win a war, but Gilgamesh begins a quest for an everlasting name that angers the gods and results in Enkidu's death. The distraught Gilgamesh must travel far from his people to find the fabled plant that can restore Enkidu's life. But can he escape the netherworld and, if so, will Erech receive him again? Grundy's plot and even his simplified language are strikingly faithful to his ancient source. Erech's religion, politics and everyday life are made real through the insecurities, doubts and decisions of a host of minor characters; all reflect Grundy's inventiveness and serious research. But the author's fidelities to his Sumerian sources can cause problems for his heroes: Gilgamesh and Enkidu remain so true to their epic originals that they can seem, in a modern novel, two-dimensional, though readers will empathize with them. Grundy's big novel of ancient life and myth belongs in the great tradition of such works, from Naomi Mitchison to Marion Zimmer Bradley. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Once again, best-selling author Grundy (Rhinegold; Attila's Treasure) has created a historical epic of monumental size and scope. Grundy has taken scraps of mythology and created characters that come to glittering life. The Mesopotamian region was the center of civilization two and a half millennia before the birth of Christ and is remembered for its advances in the arts, agriculture, medicine, and war. As ensi, or ruler, of Erech, a city-state of Sumer, in 2700 B.C.E., Gilgamesh was as much beloved as he was reviled. An ambitious ruler, he gutted his city of supplies, labor, and men to carry out his military campaigns. Much to the dismay of the temple leaders, his impetuous nature seemed unstoppable until he met Enkidu, a wild man raised by lions. The two became lovers and remained inseparable until Enkidu's death. Grundy's novel is based on The Epic of Gilgamesh, translated from Shin-eqi-unninni tablets, and follows the ancient writings faithfully. Recommended for larger public libraries; for an interesting view of contrasting Bronze Age cultures, read Bernard Cornwell's Stonehenge: 2000 B.C. (LJ 5/1/00).DJane Baird, Anchorage Municipal Libs., AK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.