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The Last Quest of Gilgamesh by Ludmila Zeman
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The Last Quest of Gilgamesh

by Ludmila Zeman

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In The Last Quest of Gilgamesh, Ludmila Zeman gives us the last of three books retelling the stories found in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Zeman once again produces a tale that includes rich historical detail, vivid images, and lessons to be learned. The book opens with the image of a man lying on the bank of a river. Zeman writes, “At the mouth of a river at the end of the earth, a man lies, near death. Could this be Gilgamesh, the all-powerful King of Uruk, loved by his people, famous throughout the ancient world for the magnificent wall he had built around his city?” And so the story begins, with a brief account of Enkidu’s death in The Revenge of Ishtar, and Gilgamesh’s pledge to find immortality. With the help of Shamhat’s spirit, Gilgamesh begins his quest. Shamhat had been beloved by all in Uruk, and had died in the attacks of Humbaba. She now guides Gilgamesh in his journey. Zeman describes the obstacles in Gilgamesh’s way, from steep mountains, wild and strange beasts, and the ever present desert terrain. Along the way Gilgamesh rescues a lion cub and brings him on his quest as a companion. As in the two previous works by Zeman, imagery and color play a prominent role in The Last Quest. Using ancient motifs and a muted range of colors, she portrays the region as both fierce and inviting. This would have truly been the case for the people of Mesopotamia, with lush, fertile areas surrounded by desert. Gilgamesh is directed by the Sun God to seek out Utnapishtim, who knows the secret of immortality. The journey to find him is the most difficult faced by Gilgamesh thus far. Again, Gilgamesh is tested by the gods, and Siduri, the Goddess of Wine, offers him refuge. He refuses, stating, “I have come through too much to give up now”. He proceeds to Utnapishtim, facing the Water of Death in a small boat, with the lion cub on board. Gilgamesh finally arrives on shore on Utnapishtim is amazed by his accomplishment. Utnapishtim tells him the story of how he was granted eternal life, after surviving a great flood. In just two pages, with scenes of the sea and pairs of animals, Zeman, and Utnapishtim, tell of the flood and the gods. Readers familiar with the Bible will recognize the story of the flood, and its similarities to Noah and his ark. But while the story is being told, Gilgamesh has fallen asleep and missed his chance to become immortal. Utnapishtim states, “Gilgamesh, a mortal you came here. A mortal you must leave”. But he is weak and gives Gilgamesh one more change, to find a plant in the sea that gives a man youth and strength. Gilgamesh finds it, and then falls asleep, “dreaming of the happiness he was bringing back to his people”. As he sleeps, Ishtar appears as a serpent and steals the plant and flower. As he is about to give up hope, the spirit of Enkidu arrives, and Gilgamesh embraces him. He brings the king back to his great city, and says, “Here, Gilgamesh, is the immortality you have sought. The city you built, the courage you showed, the good you have done. You will live in the hearts of people forever”. This is the end of Zeman’s story, and the end of the famed epic. She has given young readers their own version of the oldest story on earth, one rich in imagery and lessons to be learned. I highly recommend The Last Quest of Gilgamesh and the two works preceding it, to readers young and old. Zeman’s attention to detail and careful research bring this ancient story to life once more. ( )
  jennyirwin | Apr 10, 2016 |
The last part of the triliogy of Gilgamesh stories, this is a very detailed part of the story. I think it may be a bit dark for younger ages, but with illustrations and story line can be a introduction into mythology. ( )
  RuthFinnigan | Jun 8, 2015 |
I really enjoyed reading this story. it reminded me of the first time I read Gilgamesh myself, and how the story really captured my imagination. My daughter asked me quesitons at each page--"What's that, Mama?" "What are those bones doing there?" and that sort of thing. It really engaged her, and she enjoyed it immensely.

The only reason I wouldn't recommend this book is if you have a child who's very easily scared--there are bones that float in the water and that sort of thing, so a child who scares easily wouldn't find this a fun book. ( )
1 vote crashingwaves38 | Jan 31, 2008 |
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Book description
The final book in Zeman's trilogy takes Gilgamesh on the quest for immortality. On this journey he must pass through a hellish underworld, traverse paradise, cross a burning desert and navigate the Waters of Death. Along the way he meets wise Utnapishtim, a Noah-like survivor of the great flood. Suffering disappointment when his goal is snatched from his grasp, Gilgamesh learns that immortality is found in his good deeds and the magnificent city he has built.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0887763804, Paperback)

In his final quest, Gilgamesh, still mourning the death of his dear friend Enkidu, sets out to find the key to immortality. His journey is perilous. He must fight ferocious serpents and wild lions. He travels through bitterly cold caves, across scorching deserts, and over the fatal waters of the Sea of Death. Finally he arrives at the palace of Utnapishtim, the only human who knows the secret of immortality. Utnapishtim sets Gilgamesh a test to stay away for six days and seven nights, but Gilgamesh fails. His last hope, a flower of eternal youth, is eaten by the goddess Ishtar, who exacts her revenge. Finally, Enkidu comes from the underworld to show Gilgamesh true immortality: the king will be remembered for his good deeds, courage, and love for his people.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:39 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Gilgamesh, King of Uruk, makes a dangerous journey in search of the secret of immortality.

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Tundra Books

2 editions of this book were published by Tundra Books.

Editions: 0887763804, 0887765289

Livres Toundra

An edition of this book was published by Livres Toundra.

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