By Brian Godawa
Imagine the early parts of Genesis retold as an heroic fantasy epic in the mold of The Lord of the Rings. That's what Brian Godawa has accomplished in Noah Primeval. Remaining, as far as I can tell, scrupulously faithful to the barebones narrative contained in the Bible, he incorporates legend and mythology from Jewish and Mesopotamian tradition into an engagingly modern take on characters who are little more than names to produce a tale not quite like anything I've ever read, one that it's not just hyperbole for me to say I very much wish I had written.
Briefly, Noah is the hundreds of years old leader of one of the last free tribes of men living on the fringes of civilization, on the outskirts of Mesopotamia, where the fallen angels have set themselves up as vampiric gods ruling over a cowed and degraded humanity in the world's first cities. Betrayed, his tribe slaughtered, he sets out on a quest for vengeance to bring about a prophecy that he would bring about the downfall of those gods in his own, very direct way – but discovers that God has His own plans for how that should be accomplished. His engagingly acerbic guardian and very Legolas-like albeit reluctant companion in this is no less than the Archangel Uriel. Noah's hero's journey and God's plan ultimately climax in a great battle pitting the Mesopotamian “gods” and their armies that include demonic-human and human-animal hybrids – among them the Nephilim or "giants" of the overall series name – alongside the bulk of fallen humanity, against the the other Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael along with Noah's even older grandfather Methuselah leading the paltry few remaining godly men in what is essentially a holding action giving Noah and his family time to take refuge in the Ark before God's fury unleashes the waters of the heavens and the earth across the lands to wash them all away, cleansing the world.
There is considerable back-matter included to explain Godawa's approach and his well-researched interpretation of a great deal of hard-to-understand details in his foundation materials, perhaps the oldest parts of the Bible (maybe not in the specific text of Genesis, but definitely in the traditions that underlie the primordial history recounted there). If it's possible to disagree with Godawa's approach and the choices he makes – and it is – it won't be because you don't know where he's coming from. It's all well worth reading.
Best of all, this is just the first of what are anticipated to be several books. Of course, this tale ends on a cliffhanger explaining how there continue to be giants in the earth even after the Deluge! Bring 'em on!
Cheers, and thanks for reading!