Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Robert Silverberg: Gilgamesh the King

I seem to have some difficulties with my reading. The two earlier books (and some others I haven't mentioned here in the blog) I almost slogged through. This one was more fascinating, but it didn't grab me the way I hoped it would. No way I would call Gilgamesh the King a bad book, though.

Even though I have only admiration for Robert Silverberg (and have published his works in Finnish!), I have read only few novels or short stories by him. I bought the Finnish translation of Gilgamesh the King when it came out some ten years ago (and I also have the English paperback version of it, with Silverbob's signature!), but I got to read it only now. I didn't really know what goes on in the original epic, but I believe Silverberg has it nailed. This is a realistic version of Gilgamesh's story, told in an archaic, but believable manner. There are some great adventures along the way, but I found that I couldn't really concentrate, and it took my over a week to finish the book. Maybe it's the stress, the feeling I should be reading something totally different, or at least something work-related. The book got more interesting in the end, when Gilgamesh goes on a journey to find out how he could keep himself alive as long as he wants to, only to find himself. The ending has misogynous undertones, which I felt were a bit distracting. 

Nevertheless, highly recommended, not only because it's by one of the great masters of his generation. It's too bad I missed seeing him during the last year's WorldCon in Helsinki, Finland.

P.S. I can't but laugh at the joke someone (I think Denny Lien at the Fictionmags discussion group) that Gilgamesh the King beats the contest where you have to find the longest time between the original work and the sequel. (Gilgamesh the King isn't actually a sequel, though, it's more like a retelling of the original epic, but the joke is too funny not to use.)

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