Gilgamesh the King retold by Ludmila Zeman is the first in a trilogy retelling the Epic of Gilgamesh. Unlike Geraldine McCaughlean’s version, these are picture books with vivid pictures and easy text.
We meet Gilgamesh, a young, bitter king of Mesopotamia, part god and part man, who is lonely with an extreme desire for wealth and power. He begins building a wall around the city and forces his people to work on it. At first, they are happy to do so. But as time drags on, they grumble and complain about loss of time with family, work in the fields, and food.
The sun god made another man, Enkidu, to challenge Gilgamesh. Raised in the forest with animals, he knew no humans and protected his animal friends with his life. Word spread of Enkidu and Gilgamesh sends Shamhat, a beautiful woman, to entice Enkidu to Uruk, the capital city of Mesopotamia.
Shamhat and Enkidu fall in love and return to Uruk to face Gilgamesh. An epic battle ensues, resulting in Enkidu pulling Gilgamesh up from a wall. A friendship forms and no longer lonely, Gilgamesh stops work on the wall and peace encompasses Uruk.
Many versions of this oldest written tale exist. The story was written on clay tablets that were pieced together when found. London, Paris, and Philadelphia house remnants of this tale.
These are some of my favorite books I have read numerous times out loud to my kids. I love the story. The pictures are fabulous. It brings to life a whole time period most people/kids never learn about. Great historical value and a great story of friendship. Highly recommended.