Think you know the story of Nebuchadnezzar and his madness?
That sounded terribly cheesy.
I saw "Garden of Madness" and I felt drawn to it. So, I got it, not even knowing what gem I had asked for. I begin reading it, and was drawn into this Babylonian world so familiar to the biblical and historical one I was familiar with, and yet so new, fresh, and dark. I couldn't put it down, I flew through it, and I didn't even bother to say, "just one more chapter", as I knew that would never come to be. And I finished it in a matter of hours. All 337 pages of it. Done. I think I might have broken a new personal record.
The cast in this novel....are stunning. Honestly so. So well crafted and third dimensional. I believe the greatest example would be Queen Amytis. While she is a true life person, she was brought to so much life. And it was done stunningly. When the book starts out, we see her as a stern, unfair, and, yes, cruel mother who seems to hate her daughter (Tiamat, the main character) for no apparent reason than she just does. But as the story progresses, we see Amytis for who she truly is, a woman who is falling apart, but must hold a throne together without the support of a King and husband. And of course, her chilliness towards Tiamat is well explained, though, to divulge such facts now would be breaking the River Song code of "spoilers!" Queen Amytis is only one, from Amel-Marduk, Tiamat, Pedaiah, Shadir, Daniel (of course Daniel was included! In fact, through this read, I've grown to truly desire to meet Daniel. What an amazing man he was. I think he is the sort of fellow I could confine in without being scolded, just kindly directed) and Nebuchadnezzar. His character was made so much more clearer. It was...amazing.
The whole book through, I remained gripping the sides of my proverbial chair, and thinking to myself, "there is no way this can turn out happy for everyone. There is no way Tiamat can fix this". And you know what? I was right. It came shockingly, like, a bucket of cold water I should have expected. None of us can fix messes in this world. None of us can right wrongs.
At least, not alone.
But everything does turn out good for everyone in the end. (Expect for Shadir, but do I look like I care about him?). But not my Tia's hand, nor by Daniel's, or any extremely awesome Jewish guy who I adored before Tia thought it cool. *hipster glasses*. But by Yahweh's. things were an awful mess until she reached out to him, and begged for him to "take the wheel" as Carrie Underwood says. That ice bucket of water reminded me of how often I do the same thing, I try to take control, to work things out all on my own, when Yahweh yearns to take it from my shoulder so he can deal with it.
It's a retelling of that mysterious time period when Nebuchadnezzar went through his humbling madness. It painted a picture of how the kingdom was kept safe by attackers or enemies within the palace. But it's more it's a novel about searching and finding truth, be it pleasant or painful. It's about pride, and learning to humble yourself before God. It's about the complicated relationships within families, the ties, the bonds and strengths that hold us together. And it's about trusting your well being, your very life, into God's hand; letting Him shelter you and yours beneath his wings, and giving the fight, whatever it is, into his capable hands. And even with all that, I feel I haven't praised this book enough.
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Review 2 for Garden of Madness - eBook
A glimpse into ancient Babylon
Date:June 22, 2012
I love historical novels that are allegories of Bible stories. This one did not disappoint; I enjoyed it from beginning to end.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like living in the times of the kings of the Bible? What if you were of the house of Nebuchadnezzar? Say, the daughter of the great king himself? I love history, the actual life of history. I always want to know more. And Tracy L. Higley has certainly satisfied my curiosity and held my attention with this new book, Garden of Madness.
Garden of Madness is set at the end of the seven years of Nebuchadnezzar's banishment, when he roamed as a madman, as a beast, until he submitted to the one true God, the God of the Jews, Yahweh. Nebuchadnezzar's youngest daughter Tiamat has just lost her husband (whom she was forced to marry to form a political alliance), the son of the imprisoned Jewish king Jehoichan. Now she is faced with another impending forced marriage alliance to one of her mother's cousins, a prince of the Medes. Unbeknownst to Tiamat, the mage Shadir is plotting his own takeover of the throne through marriage to Tia by a man of his choosing. A third possible contender for Tia's hand in marriage is the unwilling Pedaiah, the brother of Tia's deceased husband.
With so many unwanted marriage options, along with ferreting out the reason for the death of Tia's husband and two murders in the palace, Tia seeks solace in the presence of her father Nebuchadnezzar, to whom she remains loyal even through his madness. She tries to find answers through the ways of her people using the magic of the powerful mage Shadir and through sacrifice to the gods. When she finds herself in impossible, terrifying circumstances she begins to believes she is going mad. After all, isn't madness hereditary?
In her search for answers, Tia has to decide if she is willing to follow where truth leads, and if she is willing to make choices based on that truth. Following truth leads to surprising personal decisions and outcomes for Tia and her family.
Tracy Higley does a wonderful job answering the question of what might have happened to Nebuchadnezzar during his seven year absence, who might have reigned in his stead, how a takeover of the kingdom may have been presented, and a look into the life of the beloved Daniel. To find out more about this book visit Tracy's website. By the way, I'm going to the website myself to check out all of her other books!
In order to comply with new Federal Trade Commission regulations, please note that this book was provided compliments of the Booksneeze program.
As a child I heard the stories of Daniel in the lion's den. And of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. I knew who Nebuchadnezzar was, but didn't pay much attention to much more than the popular Bible stories.
The Bible tells of Nebuchadnezzar being driven away from people and living with wild animals (Daniel 4:31-33). In the very next verse (v.34) his sanity is restored as he praises God. There is nothing between those two verses to suggest what happened during the "seven times" he was to live as a wild animal.
Tracy Higley does a great job taking those events and telling the story from a different point of view. Tiamat, Nebuchadnezzar's daughter, leads the story line as she becomes a widow at a young age. She goes on to investigate, wanting to know who killed her husband, and why.
Although this story dives into the politics in the palace, a subject I am not really in to reading about, I still found it an enjoyable historical fiction novel.
------------------ I received this complementary e-book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
The gardens of Babylon offer solice, beauty and intrigue. But within the lush backdrop of flora lie danger and devastating secrets capturing its visitors within its tempting grasp. In a time of great strife and unrest could a longing from one voice be enough to conquer many?
Tiamat, youngest princess to King Nebuchadnezzar and Queen Amytis learns that decisions afford consequences. Protected from the outside world by a title held by few she loses the husband of her youth, Shealtiel. In a time when arranged marriages are commonplace Tiamat longs for freedom, for her own choice in the land of many gods.
King Nebuchadnezzar held captive from the reality of madness, his contributions to Babylon are remembered and loved by many.
Queen Amytis, most powerful is familiar with the hardships and demands of a royal lifestyle. Loneliness and bitterness can capture even the most absent of hearts.
Pedaiah, brother of Shealtel (former husband of Tiamat), is of Jewish descent, as his family, and has not yet known a wife. His faith, a fortress and safety net, shines in the darkness of what Babylon has become.
Can the one true God rise above all others?
I found myself being thrust into the storyline from the beginning of this impossible to put down book. Highly creative and original this story captured my attention. Offering the reader suspense, romance, history, twists, turns and surprises adding to the pleasure of time being well spent. The author is a very gifted storyteller who has the ability to bring new life into ancient history! With well developed characters, unforgetable scenery and captivating dialogue I felt as if I were present at the scene of the story witnessing the unfolding of hearts and lives and I know this novel will stay with me for a long time. I was challenged in my faith, entertained, and found the overall message inspiring. This book will be highly recommended to others! Very well written! Thanks to Thomas Nelson Publishers and to Netgalley for the ARC for my review.
King Nebuchadnezzar's daughter Tiamat has patiently waited seven years for her father to recover from the mysterious madness that causes him to prowl about on all fours like an animal. Since the mysterious death of her husband and the murder of a nobleman in the palace, Tiamat realizes she must discover who is behind their deaths. As her mother plots to wed her to another to secure the kingdom, Tiamat seeks to help her father by accepting the help of Pedaiah, who takes her to her father's old friend, Daniel.
"Garden of Madness" is a fictionalized novel of the daughter of King Nebuchadnezzar. While it is very interesting in its use of characters such as Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, at times it was uneven, especially in the first half of the novel. The pace really picked up in the second half. Although the novel couldn't seem to make up its mind whether it was a religious mystery or a religious romance or something in between, it was very enjoyable. I found it to definitely be a 3 star novel.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Reading through the Book of Daniel, I’ve wondered at times how it was that proud King Nebuchadnezzar managed to hold onto his kingdom during his seven years of insanity. God willed it, of course, but how did events play out? In her new book, "Garden of Madness," Tracy Higley uses her imagination to give readers one possibility.
The book is a work of historical fiction. Several characters are mentioned in the Bible and in other historical documents from the time. Other characters, including the main character, Princess Tiamat, are Higley’s inventions. Higley explains more about this in a note following the story.
As for the story, I loved it! Princess Tiamat was a fun character who cared deeply for the people in her life, longed to be loved in return, and determined to seek truth whatever the cost. And the truth of this novel comes straight from the true story of the Bible in which this fictional story is set: the cause and resolution of King Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years of insanity.
Though "Garden of Madness" is a work of historical fiction, it’s also a turn-the-pages-quickly, conspiracy/suspense thriller. I enjoyed reading this work and recommend it to you. Thomas Nelson Publishers sent me a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.
Higley’s Seven Wonders series is written about the seven wonders of the ancient world. Garden of Madness is about the hanging gardens of Babylon, supposedly built by King Nebuchadnezzer for his homesick wife. According to the bible story, King Nebuchadnezzer went mad for seven years. (Interesting, but I never wondered what happened to the kingdom while the King was crawling around eating grass. Clearly, Higley has more imagination than I do.) I loved the court intrigue and treacher, the lies that treaten to destroy Tiamat, and her struggle to save herself from an arranged marriage, her kingdom from interlopers, and her father from his madness! Nebuchadnezzer is one of my favorite biblical characters and I was sad that he didn’t get more screentime.
As usual, Tracy Higley's books grab me from the first few pages & I am whisked away into another world. I loved her main character, Tia, who is a princess--but not a limp, coddled, brainless girl lounging around in a palace: she's spunky, energetic (she loves horses & running & doing active things, not sitting lamely in a garden surrounded by attendants), very inquisitive, whenever she finds out new information--she takes action, she's incredibly brave & daring, she has fierce love for her family (even those who don't love her in the same way), and is passionate. Tia is my kind of girl!!! She is who I would be (or wish I could be) if I were in her shoes. I would HAVE to figure out the puzzles in the royal palace, as well as fight for who to marry (even if it's supposed to be "arranged"). Tia is a girl I related to!
I love how the story line is so unpredictable. As soon as we get one puzzle figured out (and think we know what is going to happen/or should happen), it opens the door to a new shocking twist we (through Tia's eyes) never saw coming. Yet by the end of the book, all the pieces fit together, and we finally understand the "WHY" for so many issues that were perplexing to Tia.
Tracy Higley's books are so lushly rich in detail and accuracy of the historical settings: I always feel like I'm right there in the stuffy palace halls, down in the crowded cities, on the rooftops at night, in the jungle-like gardens--right along with the characters. I feel, hear, smell, sense everything I'm reading--I'm so drawn into that world. It's captivating, as well as very informative about what life was like in historical Babylon. I learned a lot of rich historical information while being captured by the intriguing story.
I've read every one of Tracy's books, and GARDEN OF MADNESS is right up there at the top!! (Hard to choose which of her books could be "best," but I thoroughly enjoyed the action and intrique of this one, esp. Tia's spunky character!) If you want a great book--get this one!!
Right now, it's #1 on my list of fiction books to buy/recommend family & friends--a delightful & captivating read for everyone!
Garden of Madness is based upon Tiamat, daughter of King Nebuchadnezzar, during the seven year period where he goes mad. There are sinister plots lurking in the realms of the palace. When recent deaths occurring and talk of killing her father arise, Princess Tiamat feels like she must hunt down the nemesis. She joins forces with Beltshazzar also known as Daniel and her late husband's brother, Pediah to seek out the truth.
Who would dare rebel against the the Mighty King of Babylon? Before she can find the culprit, Tiamat faces scorn and rejection from her mother, the belittling attitude of everyone, a peace treaty marriage, questions about the gods and the one true God, and her unknown past. Will Tiamat's life ever be straightened of all this madness?
This story was very interesting. The author chose a very different and difficult subject. She included real facts, historical details and characters from the Bible while adding her own fictional scenes and characters. I loved how she kept referring to the Hanging Gardens throughout the story. You could very well picture the grandness and beauty of this wonder of the world. It was fun to enter the life a young woman many years back in history. In many ways she was very much like the woman in this century, wanting freedom, feeling heartbroken, rejected, and experiencing true love. I thought she executed this book well. There was enough of everything romance, mystery, history, conflicting emotions and many unexpected curve balls. The perfect balance of these factors allowed Garden of Madness to be such an enjoyable book.
Ever wondered what was happening to the kingdom of Babylon during the seven years King Nebuchadnezzar was stricken with madness? Who was in charge? Were outsiders trying to take the throne? How did one of the most powerful kingdoms in the world manage to stay on its feet while its king lived like a wild animal? In Garden of Madness, T.L. Higley spins a thrilling story as her own speculative answer to that question. In regards to the book itself, what can I say besides 'T.L. Higley has done it again'? I was certain she couldn't outdo herself after Shadow of Colossus, but now I strongly suspect that she's just getting better with every book she writes. The setting of ancient Babylon feels lifelike and vivid all throughout the book - another gift T.L. Higley seems to be blessed with. The descriptions are almost tangible, and you may find yourself squeamish, or sweating, or shivering along with the characters as the scene dictates. : ) The story is riveting. I stayed up half the night last night, unable to put it down. And while much of it is based on speculation regarding a story we don't have much biblical detail on, it didn't leave me feeling like the author had taken too many liberties. Some liberties, sure. But it didn't feel stretched like so many works of historical fiction do. One thing I did kind of question in the book is the accuracy of a couple of scenes where a devout Jewish man kisses a woman he's not married to. I'm no expert in ancient Jewish custom, but I did wonder about the accuracy of that. The title 'Garden of Madness' doesn't really do the book justice, in my opinion. Maybe it's just me, but it seems a little melodramatic, which is not an accurate reflection of the book itself. So if you share my loathing for melodramatic book titles, don't let it turn you away from this book. From start to finish, this book had me by the throat, desperate to know what happens next. Yet another fantastic installment in the Seven Wonders series by T.L. Higley... and I'm waiting eagerly for the next one!
I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my review. A favorable review was not required... I just have to rave about my favorite author! ; )
Wow, this is an intense read-and I mean that in the best of ways! I started Garden of Madness last night around 8:00 pm and finished it at 4:00 am. I couldn't put it down, even though I knew I'd be seriously tired in the morning. There is just so much intrigue, mystery, and breathtaking, edge of your seat moments, that I had to see how everything turned out...
Here's the storyline:
For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world. Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an indulgent palace life. But when her husband dies and a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own newfound freedom is threatened. As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mage Shadir plots to expose the family's secret and set his own man on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband's brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notions of the gods even as he opens her heart to both truth and love. In a time when few gave their hearts to Yahweh, one woman must decide if she is willing to risk everything-her possessions, her gods, and her very life-for the Israelite's one God. Madness, sorcery and sinister plots mingle like an alchemist's deadly potion, and Tia must dare to risk all - to save the kingdom, and to save herself.
I have to say, that for me, one of the strongest elements in this book is the way author Tracy Higley evokes a real sense of atmosphere throughout. As Tia experiences layers of various emotions, the reader also shares that same apprehension, tightness in their chest, and dread of events to come. The tension keeps escalating until near breaking point, and you wonder what else can possibly happen.
The descriptions of Babylonian splendor are vivid, and the garden scenes between Tia and the beast like King Nebuchadnezzar, poignant. I honestly dreaded Tia's journeys to the pagan temple, as each visit seemed to pull her further into darkness, a strange madness even. I really felt the spiritual warfare, as good and evil are battling for control of the princess' mind.
However, despite the heaviness of subject, there was welcome relief from the intense oppression as Tia is counseled and prayed over by her trusted Jewish friends Daniel and Pedaiah. (Well, Pedaiah might not exactly be considered "friend" material, as he looks on all Babylonians as unclean idolaters that are best avoided at all cost. Most especially Tia, as he finds himself annoyingly attracted to his late brother's wife, despite his disgust with her excessive lifestyle and false gods.)
I really enjoyed the growing relationship between Tia and Pedaiah, unlikely as it seemed at the beginning. There's a slow, grudging acknowledgement of their mutual, ill advised, attraction, that turns into something really sweet and deep. I loved it. Tracey Higley also balances the religious aspects just right; not coming across too heavy handed, but allowing Tia to gradually see things with her own eyes, rather than be told what to believe.
As I said, the tension is awesome, along with the shiver of foreboding which accompanies you further and further into each chapter. I truly haven't read anything else quite like Garden of Madness, and found it refreshingly unique to explore this biblical story through a new vantage point. I was completely immersed in the world within these pages, and didn't want to leave!
I've not read anything else by Tracy L. Higley, but will definitely be picking up more of her books soon! I highly recommend Garden of Madness as an entertaining, thought provoking, eye opening, read that will stick with you long after you close its cover.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion.
I normally stay away from Biblical fiction, simply because I hate it when people change things about the Bible (it's "fiction", after all!) but I decided to try this one- I figured, since it wasn't actually about a Biblical character, it couldn't really offend me, right? I was surprised how much I really enjoyed this book. It captured my attention from the very beginning, and it held my interest the entire book. And I actually liked the portrayals of the Bible characters who are included- King Nebuchadnezzar (obviously) and Daniel. Though from the beginning I had a pretty good idea who the culprit was, this book still had some twists and turns that I didn't see coming. I don't read many books set in the BC time period, so I wasn't sure how I would like this setting, but I greatly enjoyed learning new things about this point in history. The book wasn't exactly a light read; I wouldn't recommend it to younger readers. However, for high-schoolers it is not only an interesting, fast-paced story, but a history lesson about Ancient Babylon.
I received this book for free from booksneeze.com in exchange for my honest review.
Garden of Madness centers around the Babylonian Princess Tiamat, daughter of the great King Nebuchadnezzar. 7 years have gone by since Nebuchadnezzar's spiral into madness, and Princess Tiamat finds herself newly widowed and exposed to the plots of powerful Magi to take down the throne. Rejected by her own mother, she searches for truth, only to find an unraveling darkness at work, taking her to the very edge of her sanity and all she holds dear. Will she embrace the truth of her past only to succumb to the pressures around her, or will she find strength in an unknown god and find the courage to face it all?
All I have to say is WOW. I have not been this impressed with a novel for a very long time and this is easily my best read all year. Garden of Madness has the bones and the character of a best seller. I was intrigued by the story of Princess Tiamat, and though largely fictional, includes the historical components of the Book of Daniel and makes its reality spring to life!
Although Tracey L. Higley has her own writing style, I found the same passion, the same depth of characters and adventure that I would find in a Francine Rivers book. She is an amazing writer and visionary.
5 Stars out of 5!
This book was provided to me for free by Book Sneeze, contingent on an unbiased review.