Title: Long Road Out of Ur
Author: Joel Thimell
Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: August 25, 2016
~ Blurb ~
Something is rotten in Mesopotamia. A troublesome priest has been murdered; the pagan New Year’s rites defiled; a royal tomb is robbed; and a would-be grifter, Lot, is in the wrong place at the wrong time. His father, grandfather and cousin are each likely suspects and Lot doesn’t know who he can trust. Everyone thinks Lot knows where the loot is hidden and someone wants it all–even if it’s over Lot’s dead body. “Long Road Out of Ur” retells the familiar story of the calling of Abraham and Sarah to the Promised Land through the voice of Lot. Yes, that Lot–the one who barely escaped the destruction of Sodom with his daughters–his wife wasn’t so fortunate.This is not a Sunday school version of their lives, and they are not alabaster saints. Instead, it’s a lively coming-of-age adventure tale crossed with a murder mystery and a heaping helping of social satire. Think of it as something like “Huckleberry Finn” combined with “North by Northwest” but set in the Bronze Age. Lot’s comical attempts to con his way out of danger only entangle him deeper and deeper in a web of greed, betrayal and murder. From the fashionable society of Susa through the murky waters of the Great Swamp to the stone huts of Elam, Lot tries to run but he can’t hide. Searching for any way out, he battles evil giants, fake princesses and blood-thirsty pirates but his greatest struggle is finding himself. Can a two-bit con man change his spots? Or will his past destroy him? Can a prodigal son and his prodigal father ever forgive one another? Or are some wounds just too deep to heal?
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~ Review ~
I jumped into reading Long Road Out of Ur without having much of an idea what I was getting myself into. I was more than slightly surprised to find myself in ancient Mesopotamian reading a story written from the perspective of Lot. Unfortunately, this is a time period with which I – as a self-proclaimed history geek – do not have much knowledge or affinity. Because of this, I struggled with the story. There were also tons of characters whose names were similar enough to cause confusion (there is a cheat sheet included).
The novel was full of adventure and intrigue. Lot couldn’t miss an opportunity to cause trouble to save his life (quite literally). The story takes us to various ancient locations. These are described in detail as are the different types of peoples and the smells – yikes! The dialogue is often witty, although it tended to get a bit long for my liking.
I had two problems with the novel. The novel is told from the perspective of Lot, and I couldn’t stand the guy. He was selfish, conniving, and more than a bit spoiled. As the story was told in first person, I couldn’t escape the guy. I was also not as invested in the story as I didn’t care what happened to Lot. I have to wonder if telling the story from a different perspective would have increased my enjoyment.
My other issue with the novel was the use of modern language. While I understand that absolutely no one would read this story if it were written in Sumerian (or whatever ancient language would be appropriate), the use of extremely modern words such as awesome, blather, and whopper was disruptive and jarring.
A copy of this book was given to me by the author. All opinions are my own.
~ About the Author ~
Passionate about writing, food and travel, his love of adventure led Joel to hitchhike from Kenya to South Africa, whitewater-raft the Zambezi River, canoe the Okavango Delta, explore the Ngorongoro Crater, climb Mt.Kilimanjaro, and hike the Chimanimani Mountains. The thrill and terror of those first-hand experiences are brought to life in Lot’s own adventures. Joel began his career as a government bureaucrat and erstwhile journalist and is now making amends to society as a starving author. He shares his non-existent garden in Tennessee with endless hordes of mosquitoes, six squirrels, three jack rabbits, a ravenous herd of deer and an elusive mole named Darwin.
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