I was drawn to this novel simply because of the time period and the locale. I enjoy reading about the early history of the ancient Near East. My first real exposure to that area was as a freshman in college and the mesmerizing and thoroughly entertaining Professor Milton Covensky and the textbook he wrote, The Ancient Near East Tradition. Of course, that was a historical perspective, in the world of historical-fiction, the series by Sam Barone, The Eskkar Saga provided an interesting take on the Tigris-Euphrates civilizations. In A Milk and Honeyed Land gives us a sterling portrayal of the Canaanite hill country in 1200 BCE; a time of change in the region. The influence of Egypt is waning as new forces enter the land. These forces being the Ibriym(Hebrews) under the leadership of Joshua.
The story offers a glimpse into the everyday life of the four towns, Gibeon, Kephirah, Beeroth and Kiriath Jearim(in the book they are named Giybon,Kephrath,Meyim and Jarrar’s Town) that have bonded together in a matrilineal society. In the Old Testament they are known collectively as the Gibeonites. Much of the story centers around the seers or priests of the towns, in particular the seer of Kephrath, Damariel. I found this to be a very moving narrative of the people in their daily lives; the struggles, the joys, the times of celebration and the times of sorrow. Damariel is a wonderful character and it is through his eyes we learn of the ritual religious practices of the people, the high places and standing stones. The author’s use of dialogue is especially touching and his descriptive narration is spot on. Mr. Abbott certainly did his homework and his extensive research is evident throughout. I went into this book not knowing what to expect as both the author and the subject matter were new to me. What I came away with is a better understanding of what life was like in a time and place that was integral in the rise of much of Western civilization. I also came away with the knowledge that I have another series of tales to follow…Scenes from a Life and The Flame Before Us are now on my to be read pile.
5 stars and a ‘You have to read this ‘ Hooverbkreview recommendation.
About the author:
Richard lives in London, England and writes about the ancient middle east – Egypt, Canaan and Israel. His interest began with a study of how styles of literature and poetry were shared cross-culturally in the Late Bronze and early Iron Ages. Having taken those studies as far as he wanted on an academic level, he switched to using the material as background for historical fiction. In a Milk and Honeyed Land and its successors sprang out of the desire to tell the stories of ordinary town and village life of those days, rather than the exploits of kings and conquerors.
He works professionally in IT quality assurance. When not writing words or computer code, he enjoys spending time with family, walking, and wildlife, ideally combining all three pursuits in the English Lake District.