Authors: Sam Barone
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Historical
Even Trella’s brother had survived, rescued by Tammuz and En-hedu from the chaos of Sumer. As soon as Almaric recovered his strength, he would journey north to be reunited with his sister. Whether he would ever fully regain his wits, only time and the gods would decide.
With all its enemies vanquished, Akkad reigned supreme over the land between the rivers. There was no place her soldiers could not march, no land so distant her horsemen could not penetrate, no enemy so bold as to offer challenge. Soon her influence, if not her soldiers, would spread even beyond those boundaries.
Trella raised her arm and pointed toward the north, where the wide ribbon of the Tigris glistened in the setting sun. “That’s where the future of Akkad will lie. Those empty lands will fill with farms and villages. In five or ten years, they will be the source of our strength.”
“Sargon will rule over those lands,” Eskkar said. “He will grow up to be their king as much as Akkad’s. No one will challenge his right to rule now.”
In another few months, the boy would be five seasons old, and already he’d begun to outgrow his childish toys.
“He will be safe for a time,” Trella said, “perhaps for many years. But there will be new enemies, if not from outside these walls then from within. There will always be those who will seek to take what belongs to him.”
“When he is old enough, I will send him north to the lands of the Ur Nammu. They will teach him how to be a warrior. When he returns, you will teach him how to be a king.”
“We’ll talk about that when the time comes.”
Eskkar knew she wasn’t convinced of the wisdom of sending the boy away. But that day of reckoning lay seven or eight years in the future.
“En-hedu is also carrying a child,” Trella said. “Though he may grow up to be more Sumerian than Akkadian.”
“And Cnari has given Hathor a son. Our children and those of our friends will all grow up together.”
“And you and I, Eskkar, will make sure they do. We must never forget
that our strength lies in the hearts of our people. As long as we care for them as much as we care for Sargon, they will give us their allegiance. Sumer and Larsa showed what happens when rulers place their own desires above those of their subjects.”
“You will make sure of that,” Eskkar said, “while I will make certain our army remains strong. Gatus would have made sure of that. And who knows from what direction the next danger will come?”
She turned away from the expanse, and put her arms around his neck. “Our blood is still in these walls, husband. And soon our children will draw their strength from these same walls.”
He kissed the top of her head. “I think you will give them more strength than any wall, no matter how high or strong.”
Eskkar glanced up at the heavens. One by one, the stars were breaking through the darkness. Perhaps because of them, he’d survived another battle, another conflict. Whatever role they planned for his future was yet to be played out. But for now, they had given him what he wanted, and he didn’t intend to waste the moment.
“Come, Trella. Let’s go home. I want to play with my son.”
riting about historical events has turned out to be a tricky business. There are so many experts in the various fields, and sometimes it seems they are all arrayed against the lonely writer, who has to get it right while attempting to write an engaging story. Fortunately, for me at least, one author has unwittingly come to my assistance. I want to give special mention to Philip Sidnell, author of
Warhorse: Cavalry in Ancient Warfare
. His research into the use of horses in warfare confirms what I always believed but could not convincingly prove – that warhorses were used as far back as 3500 BC. Many thanks to Mr Sidnell, who crafted an engaging and well-written history of early cavalry.
Other readers will no doubt find fault with Eskkar’s final battle plan – too ambitious, too risky, too bold, and doomed to failure from the start, especially against such overwhelming odds. Before these helpful readers dash off their communications advising me such a plan could never have succeeded, I would suggest they read up on Alexander the Great, and the defining Battle of Gaugamela. Alexander used the same battle plan against the same relative odds (with even more complex troop movements), to defeat Darius and bring down the Persian Empire.
So the real question is, whose plan was it? Did the author take it from Alexander? Or did Alexander somehow learn of Eskkar’s tactics and victory at the earlier Battle of Isin? Only Eskkar and Trella know for certain.
Finally, let me offer my gratitude to those who helped make this book a reality. My literary agent Dominick Abel as ever offered many useful and positive suggestions. My editors at Century, Oliver Johnson and Katie
Duce, provided in-depth comments and recommendations at every stage of the story, and pointed out many of the countless flaws that creep into every manuscript. Oliver truly helped improve the story.
Special thanks go to my critique group, Thelma Rea and Martin Cox, who provided their usual and invaluable assistance, almost always at short notice. Linda Roberts also contributed to the final draft, even as she helped the author in ways too numerous to mention.