Where did we come from? How did this world come into being? Most of the world’s population would answer those questions with some kind of deity or deities. Gore Vidal’s main character Cyrus Spitama goes further and asks, well who or what created God? Usually when this question is asked the asker will get a very long explanation of the religion in question. Creation is no different. Cyrus Spitama travels all over the ancient world, meets Confucius and the Buddha, and is the highest power in the religion of Zoroastrianism, but even he cannot answer the hardest question.
I like this book for its historical musings. We get to go back to ancient Persia and finally learn about the world through the eyes of a Persian instead of a Greek. That was a novel idea by Vidal. I also enjoyed the different parts of the world that the main character got to visit. I got to learn about more ancient cultures than I thought I would. The religion aspect of the book was enjoyable as well. Getting to hear about said religions from them very men who introduced them was interesting. And I liked that the main character was not swayed one way or another. In fact, the more beliefs he was introduced to, the stronger he favored his own.
There were two things that I was bummed about in this book. One, that it took place so far before the birth of Christianity that the main character did not get to meet any of those religious characters. But I get it. Vidal had to choose what era of history he was going to write in. He could not introduce every religious person. There other thing that bummed me out was, there was so much talk of war in the book, and so many famous battles were alluded to, but we never got to dissect those in detail. I realize that the book is about religion mostly, but why mention the Battle of Marathon if we are not going to hear about it from the men that fought in it?
Overall the book was enjoyable. If you need to read something that takes up a bit of time, this is one for you. I moved fairly slow, but the information was very interesting to soak in.