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Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a…
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Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War: An Epic Tale From Ancient…

by Kathy Henderson, Jane Ray (Illustrator)

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One of the earliest known written tales, Lugalbanda is about a boy who, with courage and kindness befriends and tames the fearsome Anzu bird. Middle Eastern setting.
  bp0128bd | Jan 24, 2014 |
One of the earliest known written tales, Lugalbanda is about a boy who, with courage and kindness befriends and tames the fearsome Anzu bird. Middle Eastern setting.
  Phill242 | May 6, 2013 |
Incorporating two ancient Sumerian poems - written down on clay tablets approximately 5,000 years ago, and rediscovered in the nineteenth century, they were only recently (in the 1970s) translated - Kathy Henderson tells the tale of Lugalbanda, a prince of the Mesopotamian city of Uruk, and (eventually) the father of the epic hero Gilgamesh. The oldest written story on earth (as far as our scholarship extends thus far), it incorporates characters and creatures from Sumerian mythology, and concerns a war being waged by Lugalbanda's father, King Enmerkar, who is determined to conquer the beautiful city of Aratta, and use its treasures to glorify Uruk, and its patron goddess, Inanna.

Lugalbanda, who insists on accompanying his father's army on their trek to Aratta, becomes ill in the mountains, and is left behind in a cave by his loving brothers. Beseeching the gods and goddesses of the Sumerian pantheon for aid, he is cured, and, in his own inimitable style, then wins the favor of the powerful Anzu birds, who help him on his journey to retake his father's army, and who give him those blessings - such as the ability to run without becoming tired - that allow him to aid King Enmerkar, and prevent the utter destruction of Arrata.

A fascinating story in its own right, Lugalbanda's tale also has the distinction of being both ancient and new, and the dizzying sense of discovery such stories always give me (I felt this most recently with The Dark Star of Itza: The Story of a Pagan Princess, which introduced me to an epic tale from the ancient Mayan civilization) made the reading experience a powerful one! My friend Miriam, who recommended this to me (many, many thanks, Miriam!), highlighted many of the appealing aspects of the story itself in her own excellent review, with which I am in complete agreement, but the artwork also deserves a mention, as I found it immensely engaging as well. Jane Ray has done quite a bit of work with fairy-tales and mythology, and her style, with its copious uses of golden accents, seems very well suited to the story here. I liked her depictions of the men of Uruk, and of Innana, but my favorite painting was the one in which Lugalbanda, lying on his side, looks out on the world from his cave.

This is just a wonderful, wonderful book, and although a picture-book, one I would recommend to anyone, young or old, who is interested in ancient Sumer, or ancient epics in general. The author's afterword is quite interesting, but now I'm hungry for more! Have the translations she mentioned been collected in an anthology of some kind? Clearly I need to do more research. Also, clearly I need to reread Gilgamesh! ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Apr 21, 2013 |
This was a great story of a young hero. It shows anyone can be a hero. ( )
  Olisia | Oct 16, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kathy Hendersonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ray, JaneIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0763627828, Hardcover)

Found in Iraq and older than the Bible, the Koran, or the Torah, this stirring epic - the world's oldest written story - now becomes available to a general readership for the very first time.

Lugalbanda woke with a jolt. He opened his eyes and what did he see but the terrible Anzu bird beating its wings in its nest high above. . . . Did he quake? Did he quail? No. Lugalbanda the Brave sat and stared, and into his head came a brilliant idea.

Before the Bible and the Koran, before even the Greek and Roman myths, there came a story from the land we now call Iraq. Speaking across five thousand years, in a voice so fresh and timeless it could have been written yesterday, this tale tells of an extraordinary journey, of a magical bird, of a battle that wouldn't end, and of wisdom gained. It is the story of Lugalbanda, a boy in a time of war.

Etched on clay tablets in cuneiform, lost underground for thousands of years, and rediscovered just 150 years ago, this account of the epic adventures of a loyal, resourceful boy is renarrated in lyrical prose by Kathy Henderson and set against Jane Ray's glorious images glinting with gold.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:01:58 -0400)

An ancient Sumerian tale about the youngest and weakest of eight brothers who, caught up in an ill-advised war, uses his wits and courage and eventually becomes king.

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