This book has 3 very different parts told in reverse chronological order.
The first part tells of the discovery and decyphermment of the epic of Gilgamesh through biographies of 2 of the discovers.
The 2nd part tells of the Assyrian kings who assembled the library in which it would be found and has a brief history of the neo-Assyrian Empire.
The 3rd section discusses the epic of Gilgamesh itself, relating the story and telling of earlier versions of the work and finally what little is known of the real King Gilgmesh.
The narrator is good, if perhaps a bit too brisk. And now you'll know how to pronounce "Ninevah".
I'm guessing the author wanted to personalize the story and so told it through a series of biographies. I think he was fairly succesful, but doubt if it would work for anyone not interested in archaeology.
The first 4 hours of this book are pretty bad. Nothing much happens beyond finding out what "uplift" means. The main character, Jacob, goes from one place to another and talks to people and that's about it. To make matters worse Jacob is grief-stricken, making him detatched from humans, and has a kind of splintered personality; so there isn't any character development either. Dull.
After that things pick up a lot. Aside from the hard S.F. elements, and the world-building, there is a mystery- a pretty good whodunit- and the questions about what the aliens are up to, what's going on with the Solarians, and the revelations about Jacob's character. And some action too.
The narrator is terrific- especially considering he has to do 3 alien species, a dolphin, and a chimp. Talk about earning your pay!
That said, the first 4 hours are a real obsticle. Unless you are a Brin fan I'd advise getting "The Uplift War" instead. The "trilogy" is really 3 unconnected books set in the same universe. Execpt that "Startide Rising" is continued in the next "trilogy".
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