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.