Article first published as Book Review: ‘The Diviner’s Chronicle’ by Frank DuPont on Blogcritics.
“The Diviner’s Chronicle” by Frank DuPont is an historical fiction novel that takes place in Sumeria in the city of Isin around 1860 B.C.E. It was common for the highly superstitious King of Isin, Erra-Imitti to use the predictions of a Soothsayer, or Diviner, to help him determine the best course in which to rule his kingdom. When misfortune was predicted, it was the practice to instill a commoner, often a criminal, as “substitute” king for a day on New Year’s Day. This was a day of celebration filled with religious ceremony, festive celebration, and special foods and contests all courtesy of the city temples and the palace. The substitute king was displayed on a portable throne in the middle of the celebration. He was provided whatever food and drink he desired, dressed in fine clothing, and adorned with jeweled rings and necklaces. The citizens taunted the substitute king throughout the day with mock praise, significantly relieved that it was not them upon the make-shift throne. For, at the end of this day, the substitute king would be executed, thus fooling the mischievous gods that had intended misfortune upon the real king.
Enlil-Bani was ashamed to have been substituted for the King, however he was resigned to the fact that, at the end of the day, he would be hung as a murderer. But the gods had other plans for Enlil-Bani, who survived this day and remained on the throne for over twenty years.
“The Diviner’s Chronicle” is a superbly written story about Enlil-Bani, his family, and how he came to be the substitute king on that predicted fatal day. It was clear that much research and study went into the writing of this twist on history. I fell in love with everything about this book and finished the entire thing in two days! The characters were fully developed; the attention to detail was magnificent. Everything was clearly portrayed and easy to picture from the building of the homes, the tending of the gardens, cooking the meals and sewing clothes, as well as the descriptions of the country sides and landscapes on the journey to market or when visiting a neighbor. That time in history is simply fascinating to me, the way the so called gods ruled the world. Such a time of superstition!
Frank DuPont’s “The Diviner’s Chronicle” was a very educational read and an incredibly entertaining story. I was a bit disappointed with the way the story ended – until I found out that there is a sequel in the works! I am very much looking forward to reading the continuation of this wonderful story.