Fallen Kings by Sarah Witenhafer — Review by Mary C. Findley

Even though I didn’t manage to finish this book in 2013, I have to say it is the best one I have read, and it’s going to be hard to find one to top it in 2014 (until the sequel comes out).

Sometimes you think you know what you need, and what your people need. Many powerful people in history have made decisions based on “the good of the many”. Naamah, daughter of the ruler of ancient Eridu in Mesopotamia, is one of those powerful people. She’s learned statecraft, warcraft, and all the rest as her father grooms her as befits his only possible heir. But Naamah has a problem. She can’t find a suitable husband. Suitable to her means a man who can bring power, wealth, and glory to Eridu. And, coincidentally, one who can excite and satisfy Naamah. She is sure she knows what it will take to do those things.

Oh, there’s Keenan, who is her current suitor. (She’s had several, for reasons both humorous and curious.) Keenan is intelligent, generous, prosperous, respected, and deeply in love with Naamah. Trouble is, Naamah just thinks Eridu needs someone less … well … boring, is what seems to be uppermost in her mind. Certainly there is a need for someone taller, and more handsome, though Keenan is able to captivate Naamah repeatedly just by being himself. Go figure.

This book is a dynamic study of human nature. What are the results of Namaah’s years of training, study, and preparation? The whole focus of her life has been to be ready to do what’s best for Eridu, not what would satisfy or content or please herself. When it comes time to decide, does she rely on that training, much of it having come from Keenan, who was her tutor before he became her suitor? Or does something else make her supposedly selfless cry for help to the goddess of love and war the ultimate test of what man (or woman) can learn and know and decide on his/her own?

And then there’s Keenan. Real spiritual powers crackle around the characters in this story. How can he admit that all these forces are real, but claim that only one is worth living and dying for? And aren’t we supposed to be rewarded for repentance, faithfulness, personal sacrifice, and relentless courage?

Witenhafer exposes the lie that prosperity means success, in both worldly and spiritual senses, and it’s perhaps the most important point this book makes. People in the story go from rags to riches and back to rags. Others just get richer and richer. What is the true meaning of being blessed, or cursed, for that matter? What do the manifestations of powerful visions and terrifying creatures from the spiritual realm really mean?

Read it. Study it. Learn its lessons. Let it stir your heart to a greater understanding of the need to cling to that nameless God Keenan introduces us to.






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