Review Blog

Jul 08 2016

Two tales of brothers from Ancient Mesopotamia retold by John Heffernan

cover image

Ill. by Kate Durack. Christmas Press, 2016. ISBN 9780994234049
(Age: 7+) Warmly recommended. Gilgamesh, Ancient legends, Bravery, Brotherhood, Gods, Middle East. When Gilgamesh became king of Uruk, he quickly forgot himself and became a despot who had no feelings for his subjects. They were now his slaves, to do his bidding. The people appealed to the gods who created an equal to Gilgamesh, a wild man who they left in the forest. Gilgamesh was horrified and sent for him but he would not come to the city, so he sent a woman to deceive him and bring him in. Once there the two had an almighty battle until the gods let the light play upon Enkidu until Gilgamesh realised that this man was truly his brother.
This the first of the two stories about Gilgamesh and Enkidu retold by Heffernan for a young audience. These stories are not well known and deserve a wider audience, offering as they do a group of myths and legends to rival those we usually see rewritten with a softer edge. These two stories tell of rivalry and bitterness, of forgiveness and love, of bravery and allegiance. The second story tells of Gilgamesh and Enkidu going out of the city to destroy a huge monster. This marvellous story full of blood and gore will appeal to primary people.
The illustrations are bright and vivacious, reflecting the images found in the temples and carvings left in the Middle East by civilisations of long ago. Durack uses a variety of layouts to reflect the story, sometimes whole pages of pictures, sometimes a comic style page, but always intriguing and worthy of closer inspection. They will introduce the reader to a different culture that those usually seen from Egypt and Greece.
Christmas Press books are available online.
Fran Knight

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