Saturday, January 2, 2010

Book Review: Like Mayflies in a Stream by Shauna Roberts

Title: Like Mayflies in a Stream
Author: Shauna Roberts
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Hadley Rille Books
Publishing Date: 1 October 2009
Hardback: 196 pages


The mighty Gilgamesh, the Sumerian hero-king, is restless, which is causing great distress to the people Uruk. When he hears about a wild-man living outside the city in the wilderness, he sends Shamhat, a priestess of Inanna, to tame and bring him.

Don't Judge A Book By It But...

My first impression of the cover art was “I don't like it at all”. It definitely didn't appeal to me the first time I saw it and it still doesn't appeal to me. Now that I read the book, I must urge you not to judge this book by its cover.


I wish I could say I've always loved History. Even though my mother was a history teacher, I never liked History at school. I can easily blame my teachers and above all, the programme that the schools followed. It was during my late teens that history piqued my interest, probably thanks to historical fiction that I've enjoyed since then.

Like Mayflies in a Stream is a historical fiction story taking place in Mesopotamia and it is a rather faithful interpretation of the Epic of Gilgamesh. Mesopotamia, the cradle of the civilization and where the Epic of Gilgamesh is originated from, is one of the most interesting historical areas. That's why I was excited to have this book in my hands opening a window onto the life in ancient Mesopotamia. I didn't know the author before reading Like Mayflies in a Stream, however her background gave me enough comfort to trust the facts that she used as a basis for her story.

The protagonist, Shamhat, is a priestess of Inanna (As far as I remember, in the Epic of Gilgamesh, Shamhat is pictured as a singer or a prostitute). The story is mainly told from her point of view. The other principal characters are King Gilgamesh, the wild-man Enkidu and Zaidu, the hunter who complains about Enkidu to Gilgamesh, therefore the main catalyst of the story.

The book is a relatively short one, which goes well with the Shauna Roberts' fast, resourceful but sharp style. Roberts tells a fast paced story without getting into lengthy descriptions. One of the parts that I really liked was her use of little sections, scattered throughout the book, giving information about the real life of this era: the material used for a makeup, the gazelle skin that a hunter carries, the way that a common house/hut is built. And those facts are not merely cited in a boring fashion. They are rather told to the reader discretely without turning the story into a documentary.

The biggest thing that disappointed me... or should I say I wish there were more character development. At times I found the story would have been even more gripping with deeper characters. It almost felt like the story was stealing the show and wasn't allowing the characters to fully bloom.

Like Mayflies In A Stream is a fast-paced historical fiction that I enjoyed very much. It was like a colourful window opened onto the Epic of Gilgamesh, the greatest story of ancient Mesopotamia. I don't doubt that anybody who has an interest in history would enjoy it.

Rating: 8/10


"Don't drive out the powerful; don't destroy the wall of defense!"


  1. I also read Like Mayflies in a Stream and found it riveting! I HIGHLY recommend it.