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    Review of LIKE MAYFLIES IN A STREAM by Shauna Roberts (see her website)

    Hadley Rille Books, October 2009

    King Gilgamesh is powerful and beloved by his god, but he's a menace to Urek, the greatest city in the world. He insists on his bride-right, demands that every man wrestle with him, doesn't care about the injuries he causes, and is too busy entertaining himself to pay attention to governing his city. When word comes of a giant wild man living in the desert, running with gazelle, Gilgamesh has a vision of a brother, someone he can run with, fight with, savor life with. The high priest of Inanna also has a vision...that the giant can tame Gilgamesh, turn his attention back to the city. Both demand that Shamhat, a priestess, head to the desert, tame the giant, and return him to Urek.

    Accompanied by a trapper, Shamhat goes through a physical as well as transcendental journey from the greatest city in the world to a place where Enkidu, the wild man, literally lives as a beast. Along the way, she's stripped of everything that marks her as a priestess and as a noblewoman of Urek. Finally, she uses the magic of womanhood to tame the giant...but at the cost of her sacred chastity.

    Back in Urek, the two competing visions work their way through to a resolution, while Shamhat attempts to reconcile her beliefs, her love for her son, and her faith in the goddess.

    Author Shauna Roberts takes the ancient myth of Gilgamesh, casting it from the viewpoint of Shamhat, and making the people feel real rather than mythical. The boy-man Gilgamesh seeks to have fun and can't understand why others want to constrain his powers or limit his wants. Roberts keeps the epic's tragic vision of Enkidu, a man separated from his animal-brothers by the scent of a woman and ultimately destroyed by Gilgamesh's vanity.

    The Epic of Gilgamesh is among the most ancient of surviving literatures and is not really approachable to most readers. Roberts transforms the story while remaining true to the original, providing both entertaining reading and fresh insights into a culture that faded thousands of years ago at the very dawn of recorded history.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 8/03/10

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