My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Garden of Madness” by Tracy L. Higley is an exciting and suspense-filled account of King Nebuchadnezzar and his family. Found in the Bible in the book of Daniel, this story outlines the fictional account of the crazy king who lived for seven years as a wild animal for refusing to bow to the God of Israel.
The book takes place in ancient Babylon, in the Hanging Gardens which Historians know very little about. The author has woven bits of information that has been gleaned from studies and historians into this fictional story.
The story of Tiamut begins as a young girl is forced into a marriage she does not want. Though she dutifully carries out her role, she feels freedom when her husband dies after seven years time. However, her relief is short lived when she uncovers her mother’s plot to marry her to the King of Media as a forged alliance between their kingdoms.
Tia is determined to uncover the truth of her mother’s hatred for her and why it is she that must be pawned off to the highest bidder or used as a bargaining chip. Headstrong and determined, she learns nothing of her mother’s hatred and instead uncovers a plot to overthrow her father’s kingdom while he is “unwell.”
She accepts the help from a Judaean man, Pedaiah, who is also her deceased husband’s brother. He takes her to the prophet Daniel, for whom her father had great respect. Together the two try to warn Tia of the dangers she faces in the palace. Not only from those that wish to usurp the throne but also from the magi in the temple who worship dark gods and could use them against her.
I gave this book 4 stars, only because I didn’t like how Pedaiah was putting Tia down in one breath and in the next declaring his love for her. I understand the differences in their beliefs and that this is likely how conversations were between a Babylonian pagan and a Judaean Christian — however it just felt completely rushed from hate to love. I felt that perhaps if Pedaiah had been portrayed as coming at her with his rebuke in love instead of hate then it would have made the story flow easier.
The rest of the tale chronicles the plot of the king’s family to maintain power. Nebuchadnezzar’s return to sanity and to the throne and the unfolding of Tia’s romance with Pedaiah. Overall it was an enjoyable read, it just needed a little polishing around the rough edges.
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