Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley Shines Light into World of Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Reading Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley was like going on an amazing expedition to the past, circa Babylon 563 BC, during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar.  Through Tracy’s writing, I can imagine what it might have been like to have actually lived during this time, whether a poor captive Jew living in the dry dirt and heat in a land they were forced to live in, or the royal family of Babylon living out their days in luxury in a palace with a beautiful, lush seven-tiered garden.  I was totally hooked on this book from the first day!!

The book takes place a year before the King’s death and in the last year of his seven year period of being lost. It weaves historical fact from this time period dealing with Nebuchadnezzar and his struggle to accept God (and that there is just one God) and turn away from the pagan gods of Babylon, as well as creating a fictional story based on the connection between a member of the Royal Family (a fictional daughter Tia) and the captive Jews of that period, specifically Daniel (who we all know), Pedaiah, and Shealtiel.  One of the latter two brothers would become the father of the boy who comes to carry his people out of Babylon. 

Tracy has an amazingly clear writing voice that is smooth and decadent, yet strong and emotional. As a reader, you’ll find yourself immersing into each characters personality and feeling what they feel along each step in their journey.  These characters, many based on historical people from history and The Bible, were so life-like that I became, for example, both endeared to the strength, loyalty and determination of the main character Tia, while also being reviled by the evil ways of some other characters in the book who were trying to usurp the throne (yep, court politics and intrigue never dies no matter what century, culture, country, etc.!).

Ultimately, I would have loved more detail surrounding these Hanging Gardens, once touted as a Seven Wonder of the Ancient World. Yet, hardly any detail is actually known about these gardens in order for them to be written about at length.  Supposedly, the gardens were able to exist in a desert country of total dryness due to a hydraulic system, or maybe a way of loading buckets and watering from top terrace to bottom terrace, that irrigated the foliage with water from the major water source of that area ~ the river Euphrates. Sadly, historians can’t even say with ultimate accuracy that these gardens even existed. However, Tracy gave just enough structural detail in her book that my mind filled in the rest of the visual scenery of the trees, flowers, bushes, and so on itself.  Furthermore, I’m left feeling as I should after reading a good historical fiction book. I’m now feeling as if I want to read and learn more about the ancient civilization of Babylon. I see some research into a good archeology episode on History Channel in my near future!

As a major history buff myself, this historical period is one I haven’t read much on; however, I am a huge fan of history from the Biblical times. This is why I love reading Christian historical fiction especially, because the writers delve into the ancient history of cultures that came before the time period of Christ to give us a glimpse into societies that seemed to have so much intelligence in education, science, nature, construction, writing and more.  I like that Tracy, as most other Christian writers, incorporate romance and magic into their books in a clean manner so that I can just get into the drama of the story. It allows me to feel better recommending it as well. My 73-year-old parents, both avid Christian readers, also enjoyed the book in record fashion.

Tracy did a wonderful job of showing how a culture based on paganism started to lean on the promises of God. She showed in one circumstance, though there are others in ancient history, how Jews have been held captive in a country without riches or political claim and came to quietly show their captors through gentle word, deed, and action how to live life through God.

I recommend this book to anyone who likes Christian fiction, but also to anyone who enjoys a good story wrapped around an ancient civilization. I loved how determined and independent her female character, Tia, was portrayed. History plus strong characters, mixed with superb writing make for a book I can’t put down until I read the last page. I also really enjoyed her after pages full of historical references beyond the story.

About the Book~

The Untold Story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Daughter…
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.

Connect with Tracy Higley~

Tracy also has some great information on her website pertaining to this time period and all the others she writes about. Visit her at www.tracyhigley.com.

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Tracy Higley, Author Bio

A fiction aficionado since grade school, T.L. Higley started her first novel at the age of eight.  Now the author of nine historical fiction novels, including the popular Seven Wonders series, Higley isn’t just transporting readers: She’s transporting herself, too.

“My Iifelong interest in history and mythology has taken me to Italy, Greece, Egypt, Rome, Turkey, Jordan and Israel, where I’ve gotten to study those ancient cultures in rich detail,” says Higley.  “It’s my desire to shine the light of the gospel into the cultures of the past, and I figure what better way to do that than to visit the cultures themselves?”

In addition to her accomplished novelist career, Higley is a business entrepreneur and a mother. In fact, for Pompeii, she brought her daughter along with her to Italy for the research trip.

“We gave it to her as a graduation present, not only because Italy is terrific, but because I believe in exposing children to global cultures,” says Higley, who became a student herself again this year. She’s now a graduate student at American Public University, earning her master’s degree in Ancient and Classical Studies.

 When Higley isn’t traveling on research trips, writing her novels, or studying for class, she operates four
online retail companies, including KoolStuff4Kids.com – a family run business that began as a way for her oldest daughter to make some extra money for camp. Today, it is a go-to site for parents, children and teachers all over the country, looking for beads and other kid-friendly craft supplies.

Higley lives with her husband and her three other children (aforementioned daughter now in college) just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more information or to read “Tracy’s Travel’s” blog, please visit www.tlhigley.com.

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I received a copy of Garden of Madness from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review of the book.

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2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews

2 responses to “Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley Shines Light into World of Hanging Gardens of Babylon

  1. That sounds like an absolutely awesome summer read. I’m adding it to my list. Thanks for reviewing it!

    Like

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