(to the story of "Kikkuli",
a Maryannu or Mitannian horselord who really existed,
and who changed the history of the world.)

Can you really be blamed for perfidy when your neighbours on three sides are constantly at war? When they treat your land and its people like the corpse of a goat in a game of Buzhkashi?
Maybe it was by the will of our father god, Mitra, as we once believed. Or maybe it was our karma – a fate we earned unwittingly, in the blindness one finds in so many aspects of cause and effect. Whatever the larger cause, it was our family who settled here as rulers of the vast Ishuwa Valley four hundred years ago. We chose it because of its fertility. It has such a wonderful abundance of that soft white rock which makes all things grow so well and makes the bones of livestock so strong – and for the breeding of our horses that was crucial.
As new comers back then we had no idea just how greedy and powerful our neighbours would prove to be. When we first arrived they were, each for their own reasons, was in a state of internal political collapse, temporarily lacking in all ambitions. Yes, I know, it seems too coincidental, too improbable, but in this time, this gloaming of writing and history, the records of Pharoah and that Hittite hog, Suppiluliuma, show that's really how it was. Pure coincidence that we arrived at time. Who's to say if we would have used our weapons to conquer if we'd needed to, but to our surprise and great pleasure the locals, Hurrians, actually welcomed us. “We need good rulers to keep the roads, keep the peace and defend us,” they said, “and we will support you if you do.” How stupid we were not to realise what it was they did not say! It was hidden right there in their own words. And we thought it would be simple.
But then, you see, in our aural histories, our people had been rulers of city-states in the lands of the Indus Valley – we had honed our arts of warfare only on a small scale. We had to leave because of climate change. In only five generations it suddenly got so cold that our crops were failing. We had no alternative plants that could thrive in the new conditions. We were starving. Some of our peoples went East to the Ganges, but we came west. We warrior-kings brought with us our priest-healer-teachers, our merchants, farmers and craftsmen and all their families, a great migration. We travelled for generations looking for a new land. We passed through Persia and along the edge of the Baltic Sea and far up and through the Caucasian Mountains, and coming down from them we found ourselves here. This too is a land of small cities with hinterlands, the kind of land that our aural traditions knew how to manage. But we knew nothing of empires.
By now you might wonder who our neighbours were – well it was the Egyptians, the Hittites and the Assyrians. There you have it. So for survival we had to learn fast how to be players of the great game. This is in no way easy when your area and numbers are so much smaller, and when your land is sitting right in the middle of the cross roads of trade, and when its so abundant in natural resources. What seemed at first like paradise, and was indeed a true Arcadia, turned out to be the perfect setting for hell.
Most of the time we managed brilliantly with diplomacy and trade. Sometimes our success seemed almost miraculous, and so we believed our gods were with us, supporting us all the way. Of course we had good back-up. We had the world's best war chariot, light, fast and tight in a turn. We had the secrets of how to train our war horses in endurance, so they could gallop from midnight to dawn and back again without losing their soundness.
And we had that sacred brew, that gift of the goddess Soma, which gave endurance and strength to our warriors in the fray. We had in short, a military advantage to hold against our neighbours' might. But who can tell how long a balance will last, or when it will tip, or why? Who's to know if it was Varuna the Law-Giver's decree or something in my soul's journey? Maybe it was just chance to be born into this time and place when it happened – and just my luck that I became the pivot on which it all turned.
hartfire hartfire
56-60, F
1 Response Apr 12, 2016

You've written a book about... the Hittites? Is it to be published? I find well-written historical fiction brings to life a period for me far more powerfully than the history texts. Well-written historical fiction is quite rare, sad to say.

I haven't finished the book. I was stuck with the story for quite a long time, but last night woke at 4 am with the answer - change the perspective - the narrator to speak in the first person as the central character - suddenly several major flaws were solved - hence the prologue. I thought it worked well and decided I must re-write the story from scratch, though I can use most of the original material.
Agree on the value and pleasure of good historical fiction - I think much of the best literature ends up in this category, since dead writers who wrote about the important events of their time become part of the writing of that history from the sidelines.
Which books are on your "best" list?

Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel - the most recent. Dorothy Dunnett's House of Niccolo series and Lymond Chronicles bring to life much of the European world across the 1400s and 1500s.

Thanks, will buy and await post.
Will enjoy exploring your taste and no doubt get hooked.
Could be enjoyable to share thoughts on same writings,
if that appeals to you.

Yes, would love to converse. Have you been published?

I like to joke, yes, I had a letter published in letters-to-the-editor of the local rag.
Actually have never even sent a manuscript away.
Don't feel ready for that stage yet.
You? Do you write?

When my grandfather didn't get his book published I was about 14. I promised myself one day I would do that. Decades passed. I finally got around to it, edited it and it was published 2-3 years ago. It's a great story, a snapshot of his youth across three continents and shipwreck. I have a book of my own being published in November.

Would love to read both. Prefer hard copy if poss.
Where can I buy? This might still be available in bookshops, or directly here from the publisher. Mine is called Beyond the Vapour Trail - yet to be listed obviously.

Will get on it.
Looking forward to how the conversation evolves.

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