Garden of Madness

( 16 )

Overview

The untold story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter

For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world.

Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an opulent yet oppressive life in the palace. But her husband has since died and she relishes...

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Overview

The untold story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s daughter

For seven years the Babylonian princess Tiamat has waited for the mad king Nebuchadnezzar to return to his family and to his kingdom. Driven from his throne to live as a beast, he prowls his luxurious Hanging Gardens, secreted away from the world.

Since her treaty marriage at a young age, Tia has lived an opulent yet oppressive life in the palace. But her husband has since died and she relishes her newfound independence. When a nobleman is found murdered in the palace, Tia must discover who is responsible for the macabre death, even if her own freedom is threatened.

As the queen plans to wed Tia to yet another prince, the powerful mage Shadir plots to expose the family’s secret and set his own man on the throne. Tia enlists the help of a reluctant Jewish captive, her late husband’s brother Pedaiah, who challenges her notions of the gods even as he opens her heart to both truth and love.

In a time when few gave their hearts to Yahweh, Tia must decide if she is willing to risk everything—her possessions, her gods, and her very life—for the Israelites’ one God. Madness, sorcery, and sinister plots mingle like an alchemist’s deadly potion as Tia chooses whether to risk all to save the kingdom—and her family.

“The biblical story of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years as a madman, found in the Old Testament Book of Daniel, deepens and broadens thanks to veteran author Higley’s historical research and vivid imagination . . . Readers will find much to enjoy here: fine writing, suspense, mystery, faith, love, and a new look at an old story.” —Publishers Weekly

“Higley gives readers a dose of biblical history set in King Nebuchadnezzar’s palatial gardens and a character like no other in Tiamat, devoted daughter of a king gone mad.The author’s insights into a woman’s inner strength as she searches for the one true God will leave readers rejoicing.”—Romantic Times TOP PICK

"Her story will appeal not just to readers of historical fiction but also to those with an interest in biblical history." —Booklist

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The biblical story of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s seven years as a madman, found in the Old Testament Book of Daniel, deepens and broadens thanks to veteran author Higley’s historical research and vivid imagination. Tiamat, daughter of the mad king, finds herself at the center of palace intrigue when her husband, son of the imprisoned Israelite king, dies. Her mother wants her to wed a Median prince to preserve her family; the powerful mage Shadir intends her to marry his protégé, Amel-Marduk; Tiamat wants neither, torn between her desire for freedom and her feelings for Pedaiah, her late husband’s brother. Secrets pile upon secrets and danger lurks everywhere as Tiamat searches for answers. She must decide between the evil gods of her youth and the true God who promises peace and love, but may require that she give up the life she knows. Readers will find much to enjoy here: fine writing, suspense, mystery, faith, love, and a new look at an old story. Agent, Steve Laube (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781611734874
  • Publisher: Center Point Large Print
  • Publication date: 10/1/2012
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 500
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 8.73 (h) x 1.34 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracy L. Higleystarted her first novel at ageeight and has been hooked on writing ever since. She has authored nine novels, including Garden of Madness and So Shines the Night. Tracy is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Ancient History and has traveled through Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Italy, researching her novels and falling into adventures. See her travel journals and more at TracyHigley.com. Twitter: @TLHigley Facebook: tracyhigley
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Read an Excerpt

GARDEN of MADNESS


By TRACY L. HIGLEY

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2012 Tracy L. Higley
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4016-8680-2


Chapter One

Seven years later

The night her husband died, Tia ran with abandon.

The city wall, wide enough for chariots to race upon its baked bricks, absorbed the slap of her bare feet and cooled her skin. She flew past the Ishtar Gate as though chased by demons, knowing the night guard in his stone tower would be watching. Leering. Tia ignored his attention.

Tonight, this night, she wanted only to run.

A lone trickle of sweat chased down her backbone. The desert chill soaked into her bones and somewhere in the vast sands beyond the city walls, a jackal shrieked over its kill. Her exhalation clouded the air and the quiet huffs of her breath kept time with her feet.

Breathe, slap, slap, slap.

They would be waiting. Expecting her. A tremor disturbed her rhythm. Her tears for Shealtiel were long spent, stolen by the desert air before they fell.

Flames surged from the Tower and snagged her attention. Priests and their nightly sacrifices, promising to ensure the health of the city. For all of Babylon's riches, the districts encircled by the double city walls smelled of poverty, disease, and hopelessness. But the palace was an oasis in a desert.

She would not run the entire three bêru around the city. Not tonight. Only to the Marduk Gate and back to the Southern Palace, where her mother would be glaring her displeasure at both her absence and her choice of pastime. Tia had spent long days at Shealtiel's bedside, waiting for the end. Could her mother not wait an hour?

Too soon, the Marduk Gate loomed and Tia slowed. The guard leaned over the waist-high crenellation, thrust a torch above his head, and hailed the trespasser.

"Only Tiamat." She panted and lifted a hand. "Running."

He shrugged and shook his head, then turned back to his post, as though a princess running the city wall at night in the trousers of a Persian were a curiosity, nothing more. Perhaps he'd already seen her run. More likely, her reputation ran ahead of her. The night hid her flush of shame.

But she could delay no longer. The guilt had solidified, a stone in her belly she could not ignore.

She pivoted, sucked in a deep breath, and shot forward, legs and arms pounding for home.

Home. Do I still call it such? When all that was precious had been taken? Married at fourteen. A widow by twenty-one. And every year a lie.

"I shall always love you, always protect you."

He had spoken the words on the night he had been lost to her. And where was love? Where was protection? Not with Shealtiel.

The night sky deepened above her head, and a crescent moon hung crooked against the blackness. Sataran and Aya rose in the east, overlapping in false union.

"The brightest light in your lifetime's sky," an elderly mage had said of the merged stars. The scholar's lessons on the workings of the cosmos interested her, and she paid attention. As a princess already married for treaty, she was fortunate to retain tutors.

Ahead, the Ishtar Gate's blue-glazed mosaics, splashed with yellow lions, surged against the purpling sky, and to its left the false wooded mountain built atop the palace for her mother, Amytis, equaled its height. Tia chose the east wall of the gate for a focal point and ignored the Gardens. Tonight the palace had already seen death. She needn't also dwell on madness.

Breathe, slap, slap, slap. Chest on fire, almost there.

She reached the palace's northeast corner, where it nearly brushed the city wall, and slowed to a stop, bent at the waist. Hands braced against her knees, she sucked in cold air. Her heartbeat quieted.

When she turned back toward the palace, she saw what her mother had done.

A distance of one kanû separated the wide inner city wall from the lip of the palace roof, slightly lower. Tia kept a length of cedar wood there on the roof, a plank narrow enough to discourage most, and braced it across the chasm for her nightly runs. When she returned, she would pull it back to the roof, where anyone who might venture past the guards on the wall would not gain access. Only during her run did this plank bridge the gap, awaiting her return.

Amytis had removed it.

Something like heat lightning snapped across Tia's vision and left a bitter, metallic taste in her mouth. Her mother thought to teach her a lesson. Punish her for her manifold breaches of etiquette by forcing her to take the long way down, humiliate herself to the sentinel guard.

She would not succeed.

With a practiced eye Tia measured the distance from the ledge to the palace roof. She would have the advantage of going from a higher to a lower level. A controlled fall, really. Nothing more.

But she made the mistake of looking over to the street level far below. Her senses spun and she gripped the wall.

She scrambled onto the ledge, wide enough to take the stance needed for a long jump, and bent into position, one leg extended behind. The palace rooftop garden held only a small temple in its center, lit with three torches. Nothing to break her fall, or her legs, when she hit. She counted, steadying mind and body.

The wind caught her hair, loosened during her run, and blew it across her eyes. She flicked her head to sweep it away, rocked twice on the balls of her feet, and leaped.

The night air whooshed against her ears, and her legs cycled through the void as though she ran on air itself. The flimsy trousers whipped against her skin, and for one exhilarating moment Tia flew like an egret wheeling above the city and knew sweet freedom.

This was how it should always be. My life. My choice. I alone control my destiny.

She hit the stone roof grinning like a trick monkey, and it took five running steps to capture her balance.

Glorious.

Across the rooftop, a whisper of white fluttered. A swish of silk and a pinched expression disappeared through the opening to the stairs. Amytis had been waiting to see her stranded on the city wall, and Tia had soured her pleasure. The moment of victory faded, and Tia straightened her hair, smoothed her clothing.

"Your skill is improving." The eerie voice drifted to Tia across the dark roof and she flinched. A chill rippled through her skin.

Shadir stood at the far end of the roof wall, where the platform ended and the palace wall rose higher to support the Gardens. His attention was pinned to the stars, and a scroll lay on the ledge before him, weighted with amulets.

"You startled me, Shadir. Lurking there in the shadows."

The mage turned, slid his gaze down the length of her in sharp appraisal. "It would seem I am not the only one who prefers the night."

Long ago, Shadir had been one of her father's chief advisors. Before—before the day of which they never spoke. Since that monstrous day, he held amorphous power over court and kingdom, power that few questioned and even fewer defied. His oiled hair hung in tight curls to his shoulders and the full beard and mustache concealed too much of his face, leaving hollow eyes that seemed to follow even when he did not turn his head.

Tia shifted on her feet and eyed the door. "It is cooler to run at night."

The mage held himself unnaturally still. Did he even breathe?

As a child Tia had believed Shadir could scan her thoughts like the night sky and read her secrets. Little relief had come with age. Another shudder ran its cold finger down her back.

Tia lowered her chin, all the obeisance she would give, and escaped the rooftop. Behind her, he spoke in a tone more hiss than speech. "The night holds many dangers."

She shook off the unpleasant encounter. Better to ready herself for the unpleasantness she yet faced tonight.

Her husband's family would have arrived by this time, but sweating like a soldier and dressed like a Persian, she was in no state to make an appearance in the death chamber. Instead, she went to her own rooms, where her two slave women, Omarsa and Gula, sat vigil as though they were the grieving widows. They both jumped when Tia entered and busied themselves with lighting more oil lamps and fetching bathwater.

In spite of her marriage to the eldest son of the captive Judaean king, Tia's chambers were her own. She had gone to Shealtiel when it was required, and only then. The other nights she spent here among her own possessions—silk fabrics purchased from merchants who traveled east of Babylon, copper bowls hammered smooth by city jewelers, golden statues of the gods, rare carved woods from fertile lands in the west. A room of luxury. One that Shealtiel disdained and she adored. She was born a Babylonian princess. Let him have his austerity, his righteous self-denial. It had done him little good.

One of her women stripped her trousers, then unwound the damp sash that bound her lean upper body. Tia stood in the center of the bath chamber, its slight floor depression poked with drainage holes under her feet, and tried to be still as they doused her with tepid water and scrubbed with a scented paste of plant ash and animal fat until her skin stung.

When they had dressed her appropriately, her ladies escorted her through the palace corridors to the chamber where her husband of nearly seven years lay cold.

Seven years since she lost herself and her father on the same day. Neither of them had met death, but all the same, they were lost. Seven years of emptiness where shelter had been, of longing instead of love.

But much had ended today—Shealtiel's long illness and Tia's long imprisonment.

She paused outside the chamber door. Could she harden herself for the inevitable? The wails of women's laments drifted under the door and wrapped around her heart, squeezing pity from her. A wave of sorrow, for the evil that took those who are loved, tightened her throat. But her grief was more for his family than herself. He had been harsh and unloving and narrow-minded, and now she was free. Tia would enter, give the family her respect, and escape to peace.

She nodded to one of her women, and Gula tapped the door twice and pushed it open.

Shealtiel's body lay across a pallet, skin already graying. The chamber smelled of death and frankincense. Three women attended her husband—Shealtiel's sister, his mother, and Tia's own. His mother, Marta, sat in a chair close to the body. Her mourning clothes, donned over her large frame, were ashy and torn. She lifted her head briefly, saw that it was only Tia, and returned to her keening. Her shoulders rocked and her hands clutched at a knot of clothing, perhaps belonging to Shealtiel. His sister, Rachel, stood against the wall and gave her a shy smile, a smile that melded sorrow and admiration. She was younger than Tia by five years, still unmarried, a sweet girl.

"Good of you to join us, Tia." Her mother's eyes slitted and traveled the length of Tia's robes. Tia expected some comment about her earlier dress, but Amytis held her tongue.

"I was ... detained." Their gazes clashed over Shealtiel's body and Tia challenged her with a silent smile. The tension held for a moment, then Tia bent her head.

She was exquisite, Amytis. No amount of resentment on Tia's part could blind her to this truth. Though Amytis had made it clear that Tia's sisters held her affections, and though Tia had long ago given up calling her Mother in her heart, she could not deny that her charms still held sway in Babylon. From old men to children, Amytis was adored. Her lustrous hair fell to her waist, still black though she was nearly fifty, and her obsidian eyes over marble cheekbones were a favorite of the city's best sculptors. Some said Tia favored her, but if she did, the likeness did nothing to stir a motherly affection.

Tia went to Shealtiel's mother and whispered over her, "May the gods show kindness to you today, Marta. It is a difficult day for us all." The woman's grief broke Tia's heart, and she placed a hand on Marta's wide shoulder to share in it.

Marta sniffed and pulled away. "Do not call upon your false gods for me, girl."

Amytis sucked in a breath, her lips taut.

Tia's jaw tightened. "He was a good man, Marta. He will be missed." Both of these statements Tia made without falsehood. Shealtiel was the most pious man she had ever known, fully committed to following the exacting requirements of his God.

Marta seemed to soften. She reached a plump hand to pat Tia's own, still on her shoulder. "But how could the Holy One have taken him before he saw any children born?"

Tia stiffened and brought her hand to her side, forcing the fingers to relax. Marta rocked and moaned on, muttering about Tia's inhospitable womb. Tia dared not point out that perhaps her son was to blame.

"But there is still a chance." Marta looked to Amytis, then to Tia. "It is our way. When the husband dies without an heir, his brother—"

"No."

The single word came from both her mother's and her own lips as one. Marta blinked and looked between them. "It is our way." Marta glanced at Rachel against the wall, as though seeking an ally. "My second son, Pedaiah, is unmarried yet. Perhaps Tia could still bear a son for Shealtiel—"

"You have had your treaty marriage with Babylon." Amytis drew herself up, accentuating her lean height. "There will not be another."

Tia remained silent. Her mother and she, in agreement? Had Amytis watched her languish these seven years and regretted flinging her like day-old meat to the Judaean dogs? Did she also hope for a life with more purpose for Tia now that she had been released? Tia lifted a smile, ever hopeful that Amytis's heart had somehow softened toward her youngest daughter.

"Jeconiah shall hear of your refusal!" Marta stood, her chin puckering.

Amytis huffed. "Take the news to your imprisoned husband, then. I shall not wait for his retribution." She seemed to sense the unfairness of the moment and regret her calloused words. "Come, Tia. Let us leave these women to grieve." She meant it kindly but it was yet another insult, the implication that Tia need not remain for any personal grief.

Tia followed Amytis from the chamber into the hall, her strong perfume trailing. Amytis spun on her, and her heavy red robe whirled and settled. Her nostrils flared and she spoke through clenched teeth.

"By all the gods, Tiamat! For how long will you make our family a mockery?"

Chapter Two

Tia choked down the first words that came to her at Amytis's accusation—words that would slash at her hypocrisy—and instead lifted a verbal shield. "Mother, you presume attention I do not command."

Amytis twirled and stalked down the corridor, requiring Tia to follow on her heels. The vermillion robe she wore over her white tunic flowed backward like a scarlet river. "Why can you not confine yourself to the chamber I built for you? For your activities?" Disdain poured over the final word. Amytis did not, could not understand the frustration that compelled Tia to run.

"You have built me nothing, Mother. You directed slaves to outfit a room, then called it a —gift,' as though it were not designed to keep me hidden." An extension of the rooms where through childhood you kept me trapped. "And I cannot run in a single chamber."

Amytis thrust an arm into the air but did not turn. "It is the size of the throne room! Run in circles if you must! And those ridiculous trousers. You look like a traveling merchant."

The palace halls held ears, so Tia held her tongue.

Amytis glanced back. "Why are you lingering back there? Come to my chambers. We have much to discuss."

Weariness fell like a weight, but Tia followed Amytis through the hall of the harem. Curious eyes appeared above veiled faces. Amytis often swept through this corridor. To remind them all that she still reigned as queen?

Around a corner, past the representative of the harem, who maintained his stoic post, they reached Amytis's personal chambers. At her approach a guard opened the door. Amytis entered, flung her outer robe across the over-cushioned bed, and turned on Tia.

Tia remained at the threshold of her mother's chamber, but the door closed against her back.

The room was Amytis personified. As though she had come into a naked chamber and simply lived until it had become an extension of her very self, everything sparkling in the firelight, from gold-tasseled bed cushions to embroidered tapestries hung from bedposts. Even after a lifetime, the room left Tia dazzled.

Amytis crossed the chamber and poured wine from an amphora into a jewel-encrusted cup. "We must talk of your future." She sipped the wine, her glittering eyes studying Tia over the cup's rim.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from GARDEN of MADNESS by TRACY L. HIGLEY Copyright © 2012 by Tracy L. Higley. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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(11)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 20, 2012

    UNEVEN, BUT ENJOYABLE

    King Nebuchadnezzar's daughter Tiamat has patiently waited seven years for her father to recover from the mysterious madness that causes him to prowl about on all fours like an animal. Since the mysterious death of her husband and the murder of a nobleman in the palace, Tiamat realizes she must discover who is behind their deaths. As her mother plots to wed her to another to secure the kingdom, Tiamat seeks to help her father by accepting the help of Pedaiah, who takes her to her father's old friend, Daniel.

    "Garden of Madness" is a fictionalized novel of the daughter of King Nebuchadnezzar. While it is very interesting in its use of characters such as Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar, at times it was uneven, especially in the first half of the novel. The pace really picked up in the second half. Although the novel couldn't seem to make up its mind whether it was a religious mystery or a religious romance or something in between, it was very enjoyable. I found it to definitely be a 3 star novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 30, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This book was just ho-hum for me. This story line has been done

    This book was just ho-hum for me. This story line has been done so many times. The only thing that the author did was put it in Babylonian times. I found Tia to be extremely annoying. Also I found her to be a little bit too modern. The belief structure of that time period is so different than it is today. I think that all ancient kings believed that they were divinity on earth. Certain attitudes and mentalities would have been taught since birth. I just don't see how a princess would have been into things like exercise and keeping fit. It was just far too unrealistic.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 22, 2012

    ‘The Garden of Madness’ is a fantastical, mysterious

    ‘The Garden of Madness’ is a fantastical, mysterious and romantic retelling of the Biblical story in the Book of Daniels about the crazy King Nebuchadnezzar’s of Babylon. This story revolves around the crazy king’s daughter. There’s nothing not to like about this book, and I probably enjoyed this fiction as much as the retelling of the Biblical Queen Esther or Persia.

    Highly intriguing and vivid, and left almost nothing to the imagination. I absolutely love this story, and I have to say that I admired the strengh and the courage of the heroine in this story.

    Kudos to the author for such a wonderful masterpiece. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommends this book to those who love Biblical retellings or stories that involves the characters in the Bible.

    I rate this book 5 star.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 16, 2012

    Great Story

    Apparently I need to catch up on my biblical history, before reading this book I didn’t realize that the Bible actually tells the story of King Nebuchadnezzar suffering from a bout of insanity and living in the wild for 7 years. At first I thought the author had taken some insane amount of artistic creativity with that fact…..then I read the notes at the back of the book.

    The verses in Daniel that address King Nebuchadnezzar’s insanity skip right over the seven year period he was living in the wild and tells of how the king praised God when his sanity was restored. No one knows exactly what life was like for those in the palace during those seven years, but Tracy L. Higley has created an amazing tale of plots to overtake the thrown, forbidden love, and the revelation of deeply guarded secrets to give the reader an idea of the possibilities.

    At first I had a hard time really getting into the story, I think it was mainly due to my being unfamiliar with stories set in this time period and location. I might have also been a bit intimidated by the fact that there was a word list, like a dictionary, at the beginning of the book that one must understand to fully grasp the story. Once I was able to really get into the story and picture the setting, I really enjoyed the story. As I mentioned before, I originally the author had made up the part about the king being insane, but once I realized this was fact I was able to appreciate the whole thing a little bit more.

    The story was full of mystery and suspense, just when I thought I knew what was going on the plot thickened. Apparently plotting to take over the throne when the palace is filled with secrets can be a bit confusing. I also enjoyed the stories of love and redemption that this book held. As I found myself getting deeper into the stories, I found the book harder and harder to put down. Once I had finished it, I wished there was more.

    Disclaimer: A complimentary copy of this book was provided for this review. All thoughts are my own and I was not required to post a positive review.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2012

    Epic. T.L. Higley has done it again!

    Ever wondered what was happening to the kingdom of Babylon during the seven years King Nebuchadnezzar was stricken with madness? Who was in charge? Were outsiders trying to take the throne? How did one of the most powerful kingdoms in the world manage to stay on its feet while its king lived like a wild animal?
    In Garden of Madness, T.L. Higley spins a thrilling story as her own speculative answer to that question.
    In regards to the book itself, what can I say besides 'T.L. Higley has done it again'? I was certain she couldn't outdo herself after Shadow of Colossus, but now I strongly suspect that she's just getting better with every book she writes.
    The setting of ancient Babylon feels lifelike and vivid all throughout the book - another gift T.L. Higley seems to be blessed with. The descriptions are almost tangible, and you may find yourself squeamish, or sweating, or shivering along with the characters as the scene dictates. : )
    The story is riveting. I stayed up half the night last night, unable to put it down. And while much of it is based on speculation regarding a story we don't have much biblical detail on, it didn't leave me feeling like the author had taken too many liberties. Some liberties, sure. But it didn't feel stretched like so many works of historical fiction do.
    One thing I did kind of question in the book is the accuracy of a couple of scenes where a devout Jewish man kisses a woman he's not married to. I'm no expert in ancient Jewish custom, but I did wonder about the accuracy of that.
    The title 'Garden of Madness' doesn't really do the book justice, in my opinion. Maybe it's just me, but it seems a little melodramatic, which is not an accurate reflection of the book itself. So if you share my loathing for melodramatic book titles, don't let it turn you away from this book.
    From start to finish, this book had me by the throat, desperate to know what happens next. Yet another fantastic installment in the Seven Wonders series by T.L. Higley... and I'm waiting eagerly for the next one!

    I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for my review. A favorable review was not required... I just have to rave about my favorite author! ; )

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2014

    Incredible!!

    This book is amazing. I read it in one day. It has a story line that pulls you right in and doesn't let go until the last page. Good action, good plot with twists that will keep you guessing. The ending brought me to tears. I can't wait to read more from Tracy Higley!!

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  • Posted October 17, 2013

    I have read in the book of Daniel about Nebuchadnezzer's time of

    I have read in the book of Daniel about Nebuchadnezzer's time of madness as a result of his pride, and I had often wondered how they took care of him during the seven years of his madness. I realize that Higley's story is speculation on her part and most of the characters were imagined, but I really enjoyed the book. It definately kept my attention. I would highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2013

    4/10/13

    4/10/13 As always Tracy Higley delivers a strong, exciting read that also glorifies Almighty God. Yet, it's not "preachy."

    Read and enjoy!

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  • Posted February 25, 2013

    Oh, it was very good! I found it to be fast-paced and almost imp

    Oh, it was very good! I found it to be fast-paced and almost impossible to put down. Absolutely full of mystery, suspense, and excitement! There’s not a slow minute in it. A few of the fascinating people/places in this one include Daniel (the Biblical one), Nebuchadnezzar (likewise), the Hanging Gardens, and the captive Israelites. The main character is actually Nebuchadnezzar’s fictional daughter, Tiamat or Tia. This is a memorable story…I haven’t a doubt that you’ll find it intense and thrilling, a book that entwines Biblical, historical, and fictional facts to a T. It seemed very well-researched. As fellow author Tosca Lee says on the cover, it is “rich with all the flavors of ancient Babylon.” Delightful book and one I’m glad I bought.

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  • Posted September 4, 2012

    Garden of Madness is the story of the Babylonian princess Tiamat

    Garden of Madness is the story of the Babylonian princess Tiamat, daughter of King Nebuchadnezzar. The king has been struck with madness and for seven years has secretly roamed the Hanging Gardens like an animal. All seems secure for the royal family until the unthinkable happens. When a palace noble is found brutally murdered and the king’s safety is threatened, Tia begins a quest for answers and discovers truths she never could have imagined. With the help of two Jewish captives, the wise man Daniel and Pedaiah, the brother of her late husband, Tia enters a world of palace intrigues and closely guarded secrets to protect the king she loves.
    Right from the get-go I was drawn into this story. The mystery and secrets swirling around the palace kept me guessing throughout the entire book and once I thought I had it all figured out, the author would throw another twist. Tia was a wonderful character to read. She is flawed and I liked that about her. At times I wanted to shake some sense into her and then later I was smiling with her or cheering her on.
    I thought the romance in this story was very well written. It wasn’t overdone and the relationship builds, believably, over time. This book had darker elements than the previous books in the series but I thought the author did a good job of portraying the heaviness of these situations without overdoing it. So far this has been my favorite read from this author and I would absolutely recommend it!

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  • Posted June 16, 2012

    Intriguing!

    Higley certainly kept my attention throughout each chapter and page! Twists and turns peaked my interest. Her imagination and the known facts mixed to create a great read!

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  • Posted May 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    One day. That's all it took for me to finish this book. It's an

    One day. That's all it took for me to finish this book. It's an election year and I thought today's politicians were scheming and sometimes willing to do almost anything for power. The characters in this book show you how far the quest for power can corrupt man.

    One of Tracy Higley's gifts is to make a time and a place come alive. You can hear the sandals slapping, smell the fresh baked bread, and feel the fear as Tia is faced with the demons trying to control her and her kingdom. It all feels as if you are standing right next to her - living it with her.

    This was a complicated plot, but it never felt overdone or too difficult to follow. It wasn't easy to predict though - the author manages to surprise you even if you know the story.

    I loved Tia. She reminded me a bit of Jane Austen's Emma because she always went against the tide and wanted to remain single and control her own destiny. She also was naive, and didn't understand what was happening around her and why. She needed maturity - and God to shape her into the woman she was meant to be. It was glorious to see her make the journey.

    The three princes vying for her hand are all different and are like choosing turns down a hedge maze. Who truly offers the way out? She thinks she knows the answer many times - but only someone with a different perspective can truly know the right answer.

    This was a fabulous book. It makes my favorites list. I want to thank Thomas Nelson for providing it through the Book Sneeze program. It didn't influence my review in any way.

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  • Posted May 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Higley’s Seven Wonders series is written about the seven w

    Higley’s Seven Wonders series is written about the seven wonders of the ancient world. Garden of Madness is about the hanging gardens of Babylon, supposedly built by King Nebuchadnezzer for his homesick wife. According to the bible story, King Nebuchadnezzer went mad for seven years. (Interesting, but I never wondered what happened to the kingdom while the King was crawling around eating grass. Clearly, Higley has more imagination than I do.) I loved the court intrigue and treacher, the lies that treaten to destroy Tiamat, and her struggle to save herself from an arranged marriage, her kingdom from interlopers, and her father from his madness! Nebuchadnezzer is one of my favorite biblical characters and I was sad that he didn’t get more screentime.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2012

    The Untold Story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Daughter) The f

    The Untold Story of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Daughter)

    The first thing you notice about Tracy L. Higley’s Garden of Madness is the attempt at building up ancient Babylon in such a way that it seemed real and almost tangible. I never know of the story of the mad King Nebuchadnezzar, but this book sure has so fascinated me enough to take interest. It was exciting enough for me to know the fate of the kingdom of Babylon during those years that the king was suffering from madness. And his daughter, Tia was also a character that is both admirable and inspiring in his courage, faith, and love for her father. This story also has a touch of mystery that’s sure to keep you turning the pages until the wee hours of the night.

    The character of Pedaiah also appealed to me. I think it remarkable that he was able to block himself off form the influences of the culture surrounding him in his exile.

    The story itself is also riveting and always leavers me wanting to know more. Historical fictions always seemed boring to me in the past, but this one’s different. It definitely has enough thrills to keep the lull away.

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  • Posted April 8, 2012

    Princess Tiamat, called Tia by most, is the beloved daughter of

    Princess Tiamat, called Tia by most, is the beloved daughter of King Nebuchadnezzar but just after she turns fourteen that all changes, not only is she married to the oldest son of the imprisoned Judean king, but her father is suddenly taken over by a strange madness. The story picks back up seven years later, after Princess Tia's husband has died. Tia feels no sadness for his death, she could never bring herself to love the man, in fact she is actually a little relieved to find herself free. However her mother has told her that she must soon wed a Median prince, to ensure peace in their nation. But Tia is not going to take her fate lying down, not again. She is going to discover the truth about the strange things going on in the palace, including the murder of a nobleman. Before long she finds two allies in her quest; Pedaiah, the brother of her late husband, and Daniel, one of her father's most trusted advisers while he was whole. Can Tia work her way through the web of lies and sorcery filling the palace? Who is behind it all? Is it Shadir? The powerful mage, who dabbles with demons. Is it Amel Marduk? The young mage she finds herself drawn to. Or could it be her own mother? And will she continue to follow the gods of her people or will she accept the One God of Daniel and Pedaiah?
    I have read some about the story of Nebuchadnezzar, but most of what I have read skips over the time period of his madness. This story follows the power struggle that certainly must have gone on during this time. It also highlights dark arts practiced by many of the priests of Babylon. Including the many superstitions and demons. I really think the author did a good job of showing how dangerous it can be to put ourselves on the devil's territory. The characters were interesting and believable, it was especially interesting to see Tia's struggle between her past and her future, between being a spoiled princess and a strong woman for God. All in all I think this book is an exciting, intriguing, and sweet, and well worth reading.
    I received this book from Book Sneeze in exchange for my review

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  • Posted April 7, 2012

    Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley was intriguing. Based off o

    Garden of Madness by Tracy L. Higley was intriguing. Based off of the book of Daniel from the Bible, Higley, weaves historical facts into a fictional story quite beautifully.
    A couple of pointers I recommend before reading this book are to first read the Book of Daniel in the Bible before starting so that you have some background, especially if you have never read it before. And secondly, the author gives a note in the back of the book which does not give any of the book away. I read it after reading the entire book through and thought that it might have helped me have a better handle on things as I was reading if I had read it first, or simply referred to it from time to time.
    In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar has different dreams, which Daniel interprets for him. Because Daniel interprets them, Daniel becomes the King’s chief advisor. Finally, King Nebuchadnezzar has a dream in which a huge tree is cut down and stripped. When Daniel interprets this, it is a prophesy of King Nebuchadnezzar’s coming madness that causes him to live in the gardens for seven years, basically stripped of his title, until he can humble himself before God, the Most High. This is the background for Garden of Madness which takes place seven years after this dream and one year before King Nebuchadnezzar’s death.
    In the book, Tiamat, the King’s daughter has just lost her husband (whom she was forced to marry at the age of 14). She is an ambitious woman who does not like to be told what to do, including marrying again. She simply wants to be free and she wants to help her father, the King, from his madness. With a death in the palace, she begins to investigate who the killer is, which leads her to many findings she is not ready for.
    The first part of this book, for me, was quite long. Several times I did want to put it down, because it wasn’t quite what I was expecting. However, about half way through I was hooked and I wanted to know the end of the story. I also was very grateful for the author’s note at the end which helped to clarify some questions for me. I am ready to go back and reread the book of Daniel so that I can find some of the hidden messages in that book!
    I received this copy from Booksneeze for my thoughts.

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