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Gilgamesh the King

(Gilgamesh #1)

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  688 ratings  ·  63 reviews
The epic tale of Gilgamesh, the legendary god-king of Sumeria who discovered the secret of eternal life, has enflamed the imaginations of countless generations. In Gilgamesh, science fiction Grand Master Robert Silverberg gives us a vivid portrait of a courageous, lusty, sometimes reckless ruler of men. It is the majestic tale of a man haunted by gods, tormented by his pas ...more
Kindle Edition, 320 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Open Road Media (first published 1984)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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Lyn
Jun 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Gilgamesh that Robert Silverberg describes is a combination of Leonidas (as portrayed by Gerard Butler in 300), Conan (as portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Ted Nugent: he is an alpha male with an attitude, a manly man of testosteronian power and ursine manliness, with a steaming hot side order of god-like virile manly manness.

I read five pages and dropped and GAVE MYSELF TEN PUSHUPS!!!

The almost pre-historic, shrouded in myth and legend setting made me think of Creation by Gore Vidal a
...more
AdiTurbo
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've learned so much from this novel - about the culture, history and beliefs of the early people of Mesopotamia. Silverberg researched the subject well, and managed to bring to life the old myths of Gilgamesh, who went looking for eternal life. This modern version really helped me understand these old peoples' way of thinking, how natural phenomena connected with their religious beliefs, and how they explained them. Beyond that, there are many universal things in this story in terms of the huma ...more
Suz
Jan 05, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: homophobes and fans of toxic masculinity
This is a novelization/memoir style telling of the Epic of Gilgamesh that's totally NOT GAY.

I have not read/studied the Epic of Gilgamesh, so I don't know how well the story would roll with academics who know such things intimately, and I'm generally going to miss any subtext of what was going on or what constituted pop-culture in ancient Mesopotamia, but overall, it is hitting most of the major plot points I remember. In this story, first person told by Gilgamesh, he's the most amazing, awesome
...more
Iset
Dec 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Silverberg is more famously known for his sci-fi works, but here he turns his hand at semi-historical – a sub-category of historical fiction utilising ancient myths and legends and attempting to retell them in a historically accurate and plausible way. Since I’d just finished reading The Epic of Gilgamesh, I thought I’d check out Silverberg’s reworking.

In some ways, this book was just what I had been craving. Whilst I greatly appreciated the themes and importance of The Epic, it leaves something
...more
James Baquet
Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have long been familiar with the classic Epic of Gilgamesh (I first taught it to prep-school ninth-graders around 1990 or so). Likely the earliest long work in literature, it is the first story of a tyrant gone soft (viz Scrooge), the first story of a mortal grappling with death (his own and those of his loved ones), and the first "buddy movie" (road trip included).

The original Epic is full of gaps, as not all the tablets it was inscribed on have been found. But that's no problem for Silverber
...more
thecryptile
Apr 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, fiction
A masterful retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh from SF Grandmaster Robert Silverberg. Silverberg abandons genre elements in this novel, but the bronze age world of Gilgamesh is as alien as any Majipoor novel. Is this bronzepunk? I don't know, but I liked it.
Christian Schwoerke
Gilgamesh lived approximately 5000 years ago, in the Tigris-Euphrates valley of what is now Iraq, in 2800 BC. His saga was “composed” orally at roughly the same time, first appearing in Sumerian cuneiform in roughly 2000 BC, then were later copied and translated into Akkadian and Hittite versions over the next 1000 years. Tablets whose dates ranged from 1700 BC to 700 BC have been found throughout Mesopotamia and even beyond, indication of the durability and the extent of this saga. (To give fur ...more
Patrick Stirling
Everything I expected - epic, mythic, historic! Silverberg is good writer and does a very readable adaptation, although I admit I'm not familiar with the source material. This book is in the vein of May Renault's books (eg The Bull From The Sea) and T.E. Lawrance's version of Homer's Odyssey, although with more modern prose than the latter. That's actually it's one slight failing, IMO. I prefer these legends to be retold using more formal, "mythic" language, as Lawrence does. This gives the text ...more
Ian
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Silverberg is always good, often great, here he is at his greatest. An epic story retold in modern format. The great King who conquers all, but what he fears most—death. A dream-like quality, mythic, primitive, primal, intimate, compelling and surprisingly real. The sequel, where Gilgamesh continues his life and adventures in the afterlife, is equally good.
I did read the novel way before this 2005 edition, but no longer have those details.
Bettie
Apr 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mythology
A great take on the epic - loved it. Brilliant as a primer to introduce into the full version.
Jeff Miller
Sep 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty much enjoyed the story and the audiobook version. An ancient heroes epic adapted with a nice flow to it story wise. Not quite what I expected, but that was a good thing.
David
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This very nearly is the type of book I was looking for for years. A story taking place in Ancient Mesopotamia, unblemished with the Holier than thou attitude of men named Daniel being condescending to Assyrians for not having the right religion. It is sad that this is such a rarity, at least it was until recently.

The background for the story is rich and is very well executed, perhaps only the fact that the amount of Gods Silverberg names at times is rather small, though of course that may have s
...more
Julie Davis
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Based on my podcast's featuring the Epic of Gilgamesh recently, Jesse from SFFaudio offered me this audiobook review copy. I have only listened to the first hour or so but it is interesting thus far. It may help that I have the bare bones of the Gilgamesh epic in mind. Again, I am put in mind of the Mary Stewart Merlin trilogy or the Mary Renault stories in the old style of story telling. The reading is very good so far and that is, naturally, a big plus.

Update:
I am really enjoying this tale, wh
...more
Joseph
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very well written, and while I have a few minor quibbles, little of them have to do with the writing or the story itself. This is an adaptation of the story of Gilgamesh, perhaps the oldest narrative in existence. It also attempts to de-mythologize the events of the epic, and place it firmly in a realistic milieu. I find this both to be a strength and a weakness. All events can be explained rationally, but the book does a very good job of depicting some of the cultural beliefs of the S ...more
Rena Sherwood
This is one of those books where I got hooked by the end of the first paragraph. I was already familiar with the epic of Gilgamesh and wondered what Robert Silverberg would do with it. I didn't realize that this was the beginning of a series. This book is complete in and of itself.

My library classified this as science fiction, but it's not. It's more like historical fiction or, at a stretch, historical fantasy. But really, who cares what genre it is when it is such a good story? There is a good
...more
Steven Paul Leiva
Having read several translations of the Epic of Gilgamesh (the Andrew George one is very good), I have wanted to read Silverberg's novel for years. Somehow, though, I always thought I would be disappointed. I finally, due to the glories that is Kindle, got around to it. I am far from disappointed. Much like Mary Renault, Silverberg took what history of the true Gilgamesh there is and the Epic itself, and imaginatively fashioned a first-person narrative that gives the more mythic and magical aspe ...more
David
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Very different in style from his SF novels but also very enjoyable. Factional type novel set in prehistory times (approx 5000 years ago) and dealing with Gilgamesh, who became King of the Sumerians. While it deals a lot with the capriciousness of the gods and has plenty of fantasy elements these are all dealt with as would be by ancient society and all have a rational interpretation. Deals to a large extent with the lust for power and the struggle between the high priestess of the Kingdom and th ...more
Stephen Poltz
Aug 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The “Epic of Gilgamesh” is an ancient epic Sumerian poem about the exploits of Gilgamesh, the greatest king of Uruk in Mesopotamia. It tells the tale of how he overworked his people to build a great kingdom, his friendship with the wild man Enkidu who was sent by the gods to distract him, his battles with the goddess Inanna, the earliest account of the great flood, and his journey seeking immortality. Silverberg’s book is a novelization of the epic with some liberties taken, particularly the int ...more
Erik Graff
Jun 30, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Tom Miley
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
I brought this book along for the plane trip from Chicago to San Francisco as a gift for my host (and former roommate) Tom Miley and his wife. It is a modern retelling of the Gilgamesh story and not, in my opinion, especially insightful as regards the milieux of the original. The focus is more on the character of the protagonist.
Susan
Dec 03, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This tale of Gilgamesh who was one third mortal and two thirds god. Always being the larger of men in stature and in ego, believed he could do no wrong. His journey takes him on a quest to find immortality, because he has always feared death. Interesting, but terribly slow moving. Don't think I am up to more of the series.
Paul Sain
Dec 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Gilgamesh the king is a retelling of the Gilgamesh story without the fantastical elements. It's interesting to see how these things are worked in in a feasible way. The story also covers Gilgamesh's childhood and his road to kingship, as well as his journey to find eternal life and his eventual return to Uruk. I enjoyed it a lot, seeing how interesting this adaptation was.
Bruce
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed it. True to the ancient epic. Faithful rendering of the times and culture. More personal that either the Iliad or the Odyssey, yet it expresses similar values. I will re-read someday!
K. Counihan
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Old story retold in a new way

Gilgamesh tale retold by moving some of the clay translations around and filling in the holes in missing fragments. This is the most coherent flowing version I have
Read
Charlotte Lintz
Mar 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Classic

I have heard partial stories, had this tale referenced in other novels, but never knew the entire tale. I am so glad I read this. The story is interesting, fun, human, tragic, probably the oldest on earth, except the tale of the flood. Worth reading!
Matt
Sep 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i had no idea what this was when i picked it up.

reads kind of like historical fiction. in a really weird fantasy-like way.
Zjay
Oct 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic rendition of the masterpiece. The tension between Ishtar and Gilgamesh is electrifying.
Stacey Douglas
An engaging retelling of the story/myth of Gilgamesh
Linda
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It made an ancient saga accessible to this modern reader. I very much enjoyed it.
David Miles
Jun 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-written. Silverberg definitely had a feel for the mythic quality of story of the hero Gilgamesh.
Lisa Nelson
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A truly amazing re-telling of the oldest saga on record. Silverberg makes the legend of Gilgamesh come alive.
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Robert Silverberg is one of science fiction’s most beloved writers, and the author of such contemporary classics as Dying Inside, Downward to the Earth and Lord Valentine’s Castle, as well as At Winter’s End, also available in a Bison Books edition. He is a past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the winner of f
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