Quest For Honour

Written by Sam Barone
Review by Elizabeth Hawksley

3154 B.C. Mesopotamia. The rapacious King Shulgi of Sumeris is planning to extend his empire northwards and capture the small city-state of Akkad. Victory is certain: King Eskkar of Akkad has a few thousand men; Sumer has a mighty army. For Eskkar, the choice is simple: either see his city destroyed and his people enslaved, or find a way to outwit the enemy.

This is a ‘band of brothers’ fast-paced, action-packed book. The first 350 pages follow Eskkar as he trains horsemen, archers, javelin throwers, lancers, swordsmen and slingsmen in new ways of fighting. They must be disciplined, tough and stand by each other. The last 250 pages follow the final twelve-day campaign. Will Eskkar’s innovative tactics will be enough to save Akkad? The Akkadians are Bronze Age prototype Americans, with men who work hard and rise by their own merits, and women who are strong and stand by their men. The Akkadian ethos is democratic. ‘Everyone knew the king and queen of Akkad ruled for all their subjects, not just those who possessed wealth.’ Queen Trella, like many Akkadian women, is feisty and intelligent. Not only do they command respect in their own right, they are also terrific at sex. They have to be. Akkadian men are, naturally, rampant and insatiable, and expect a high level of sexual expertise.

Eskkar’s battle tactics usually go according to plan A, but if they don’t, plan B is equally brilliant, innovative and works splendidly. Even Eskkar’s spies, who face a horrible death if discovered, are fine. I didn’t have to worry about anybody when I wanted to be on tenterhooks. I enjoyed it but it was somewhat predictable. Strangely, religion, which according to the written and archaeological evidence, was of major importance, is largely missing.