In Long Road Out of Ur, Joel Thimell introduces us to Abraham, Lot and Sarai before they became the archetypal biblical characters of the Old Testament. This epic tale, told by the elder Lot in flashbacks, begins in the Hursag Mountains of Ur (Samaria) with Lot and Abram as shepherd boys working under the guidance of Terah, the family patriarch. Lot is the nephew of Abram, but is 5 years older and so is responsible for 12-year-old Abram. Although Lot loves Abram dearly, he is at times jealous and resentful of Abram who is beloved by all, even Jehovah Elohim, the God of Noah. Abram even gets the girl – the tall and beautiful Sarai – who was originally intended as Lot’s betrothed upon his service of seven years apprenticeship. Lot is witty but outspoken and impulsive, many times speaking and acting before he thinks it through, which often gets him in trouble. Although many respect Lot’s wit, they don’t always love him. Maimed in an early incident in trying to protect Abram, Lot’s outspokenness and failure to work with the family eventually gets him exiled from his family and his village.
Lot’s journey through the Bronze Age Middle East could have been ripped from the cuneiform clay tablets of Sumeria, calling to mind the epic travels of Gilgamesh, Odysseus and even Huckleberry Finn.
The glossary, map, memory jogger and advance reviews written by ‘some famous dead guys’ add a touch of humor and assistance to the story, and Thimell’s writing in Long Road Out of Ur reminds me of stories by Neil Gaiman and Mark Twain. The sentences flow together in a real-time mode, giving the reader the sense of being there. Some of the supporting characters are in the Bible and some are created; the author wittily gives a prophet the name Mal’ak, which is the Semitic word for angel. Great dialogue throughout, although Thimell’s tendency to lapse into modern vernacular is somewhat disconcerting. Long Road Out of Ur is an engrossing read which I highly recommend.