top of page

The Bronze Age Collapse of the Hittite Empire - an Editorial Review of "The Diomedeia"

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

Book Blurb:

A historically-based novel with authentic, legendary, & fictional characters interacting across the extraordinary panorama of the Bronze Age Collapse in the Hittite Empire between the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean seas. Diomedes, previously a hero of the Trojan War, and the polyglot Peoples of the Sea raid inland into the Hittite Empire during its final months. It is both a study of ancient mythic consciousness and an exciting adventure of love, character, destruction, desperate survival, and the lived mystery of pagan rituals. It was a time of such chaos, royalty was overthrown, palaces and temples were burnt, and the power of the gods was thrown into doubt, yet the ancient Great Goddess, who had been suppressed, began to regain her former dominance.

Diomedes, though prominent in Homer's Iliad — a warrior the equal of Hektor or Achilleus, a thinker as cunning as Odysseus and as wise as Nestor, and the only man who dared wound gods — has seldom, if ever, been the chief protagonist in literature. He is given his due within. His own wandering adventures and suffering after the destruction of Ilios are traced as far north as Kolkhis (Colchis) in the Black Sea, through involvement with the last Hittite royal family in Anatolia, and as far south as Alasiya (Cyprus) in the Mediterranean. He ascends the heights of glory but also must descend into the dark Underworld in the attempt to save the one he loves.

Book Buy Link:

Author Bio:

I have been writing all my life, beginning in our small town in Saskatchewan. Most my adult life was spent as university professor, so my publishing to this point had all been academic (but still accomplished). As an avocation, in my off hours I studied the Mycenaean era of Ancient Greece, as well as theories of myth & ritual and the mythic mind. Once I retired, I returned to a novelistic venture I had been dreaming of since reading Homer's Iliad at 15 years old: bringing to life the further adventures of the hero, Diomedes. When at last I dedicated myself to novel writing two years ago, my dream was reinvigorated. However, my characters insisted on entering the Hittite Empire, probably because its capital, Hattusa, came down in flames only a few years after Troy (Ilios). I followed their wishes and brought Hittite royalty into my tale, including Suppiluliuma II, the last of the Great Kings. I immersed myself in Hittite studies, and finally this unusual book emerged — an historical fiction with a strong portrayal of mythic consciousness at the time of the Bronze Age collapse..

Editorial Review:

Even the most cursory glance at the C.V. of Gregory Michael Nixon reveals a person with a long, amassed and often esoteric sounding background in academia, research and writing. He most certainly reveals a flair and a passion for the period in question: that of the collapse of the civilisations of the Bronze Age and the uncertainties that follow on from it. Opinions vary wildly as to the cause and nature of the decline of the Bronze age in the Thirteenth Century BCE [the date of this particular novel is approximately 1195 BCE], but it is generally agreed that it may have been swift, disruptive and brutal; caused by a number of factors such as natural disasters and climate change, the incursions into the Eastern Mediterranean and beyond by a mysterious confederation of 'Sea People' [a combination of Aegean tribes and migrants from central Europe] into long established but now crumbling Empires and civilsations in Anatolia and the MIddle East and, for example, changes in metalurgical technology; the widespread production and usage of iron. This particular debate continues to rage in academic circles. The central figure of Nixon's stirring tale is that of the Greek hero Diomedes, now a primary leader of the previously mentioned 'sea raiders'. Diomedes is one of the principle figures in the 'Iliad' of Homer and the recently finished Trojan War. He is one of the finest warriors amongst the Greeks, noted for both his bravery and, like Odysseus, his cunning. He had led a fleet of eighty ships to the War with Troy, been a suitor of Helen of Troy herself and had even wounded the God of War, Ares. We first meet him here, joining up with a party of very mixed and multilingual raiders and pirates in Anatolia and on a collision course with the expiring Hittite Empire, personified in the historical figure of the High King Suppiluliuma II, the last, doomed King of the Hittite Empire. He is a man whose utter devotion to the Storm God Teshub [who has singularly failed to provide a drop of moisture in a drought stricken land!] has led him to believe that he actually is the God. We are introduced also to his unbelievably beautiful Queen and High Priestess, Lieia- Hepa, who follows her own particular Deity of Arinniti, the Sun Goddess of Arinna, and her own pantheon of deities. Early on in the narrative a serious split between the two occurs on which of the spiritual forces to follow - those of the predominantly male 'sky' entities and those of the predominantly female 'earth' deities are in conflict. This is in fact one of the dominant themes throughout the book and, indeed, it has been argued that the ultimate victory of the 'earth' Goddesses is one of the features of the decline and fall of the civilisations of the Bronze era. Lieia--Hepa and Diomedes are in fact already more than casually acquainted, from the time when the Queen had taken an especial fancy to him when he had been imprisoned by the Hittites on a previous occasion. It is to this little known and rarely reported period of World History to which Gregory Nixon turns his attention. He does this with the finely attuned eye of an expert and with a painstaking attention to detail in an exciting [and very long!] adventure that both blends myth and facts [where the latter are available!] and contains a whole series of fascinating insights into 'the human condition' in a period of extreme flux and swift, catastrophic change. For the assistance of the interested reader, Nixon has provided a full set of maps and extensive glossary of names, locations and deities. The reader is strongly advised to make full use of these! The Hittites and those around them lead lives that are governed by a bewildering plethora of Gods and Goddesses and entities. For the polyglot mongrel group of Barbarian invaders who are about to fatally intervene in Hittite affairs, life is much more simple and less encumbered by the Deities set above them: ''We who have no homelands must make our own way overland or by sea into the homelands of others. We are all of the same class. We have no Lords, but we have no slaves either. We are all outcasts and freebooters, so no one among us is a noble King or Queen...... We no longer await direction from the Gods before we act. We do not waste time appointing priests or priestesses, soothsayers, wise women or augers to tell us what is the will of the Gods and how best we can follow it. People can worship whatever Gods they please but as for guiding our choices, those days are over.'' This godless Manifesto could not be clearer and, as they set off on their merry way deep into the heartland of the Hittites, there is this dire and grim warning: ''Everyone in the cities knows what we want. What we want is what they have and what we are coming to get.....'' Anyone reading this can only know that this is not going to end at all well. Much of this book is a strange mix of traditional rip roaring adventure and often intense philosophical musings on the nature of being. There is plenty here that reveals Nixon's deep knowledge of the civilisation he writes about and the arcane esoterica of details of, for example, religious ritual. On occasion, perhaps, he tries the patience of the average reader. Having said that, the book is rich in period detail, of clothing and weapons, for example, but does occasionally become entrapped in various deep thickets of ancient theology and ritual. Nixon does, however, fix upon the careful and painstaking development of characters within the story: of Diomedes himself, of the Hittite Royal couple, of Zunan, a leading member of the elite Royal bodyguard of the Hittite KIng - the fearsome ''Meshedi'' - and his utter devotion to his Queen and Priestess; of the blossoming and moving love affair between Kabi, the fearless Canaanite scout, and Henti, the beautiful refugee from the Royal Harem and adept interpreter and, above all, of the tempestuous and, quite frankly, steamy love affair between Diomedes and the Queen Lieia - Hepa. The reader is left concerned with the ultimate destinies and fates of these individuals in amidst all the swashbuckling! On occasion a single paragraph or two shines out like a beacon of explanation of what is occurring in the world in which Diomedes and 'the Sea People' roam and over which the existing, crumbling civilisations have a tenuous grasp. Here, for example, Nixon offers the reader both an explanation and an example of the collapse of strong and centralised Monarchy: ''Now there were few standing armies. The land was devastated, trade was at a standstill and the countryside was depopulated. Towns that had their own supply of clean water from the remnants of rivers in their valleys managed with meagre crops and shrinking herds. As long as everyone continued to give sacrifice to the local gods, social order prevailed. The gods through their representatives on earth provided the people with the bare essentials of survival, and the hard times were accepted as god - given destiny. The continuity of the priesthood and the nobility was not challenged, at least not openly, and cooperation kept the cosmos in balance....'' The reader is propelled through a sequence of events in which the last Great King of the Hittites, a man deranged and maddened with power and in absolute conflict with his own wife, [imprisoned for sacrilege and impiety and in actual fear for her life], is obliged to flee the traditional Capital of Hattusa with all his goods and chattels and seek refuge in the city of Lawazantiya [for the realities of such a journey please refer to the maps provided], itself controlled by the High Priestess, Lilitu, who is devoted to the worship of the Goddess Ishtar. Partly through her influence, he seeks his own death and apotheosis and a return in the form of a God, in which Liliitu is only to happy to assist in and actually enthusiastically preside over! In the meantime, the ever encroaching nemesis in the form of a band of determined sea raiders under the leadership of Sarpedon, the Sardinian, is hot on his trail! For his own part, Diomedes is actually present in the city of Lawazantiya and busy formulating his own plans to overthrow the King and rescue his love, Queen Lieia-Hepa, with the Uncle and the personal advisor of the High King. The plotting and the planning to both separate The King from his bodyguard, to persuade the Hittite army to move on to a different city[the city of Karkemesh] and to rescue Queen Lieia-Hepa and reunite her with Diomedes whilst simultaneously saving the city from the fury of the raiders, continues apace as the violence escalates, and Nixon proves himself to be a dab hand in describing it. In the midst of violent conflict, the Sardinian Sarpedon finds time to reflect: ''Only warriors know how a full battle attack turns the panicky furies into the bellowing war gods of the killing frenzy. All-out attack erases all doubt. The only hope of survival is to kill those who would kill you. One who has never been in such a melee could not imagine what it is like - the gory horror and the killing fury, the smells and the tastes. The events in detail are often mercifully forgotten, yet specific moments remain frozen in time and will continue to appear as unbidden memory images throughout the rest of one's life....'' - A good working definition of 'Post Traumatic Stress Disorder'. The final and lengthy section of 'The Diomedeia'' is, for the most part, devoted to the protracted Procession of Suppiluliuma II down into the Underworld and the full, ritualistic processes to which he is obliged to submit in order to achieve his 'apotheosis' as a God and, equally lengthy, the descent of Diomedes into Hell in a desperate quest to rescue his love. Again, this section reveals the extraordinary degree of research into the subject of myth and ritual of the author. There is, in all this, the certainty of a sequel! 'The Diomedeia'' is a long and an at times challenging and ambitious work into which the writer has painstakingly and lovingly poured a great deal of research. It is a blend of history and myth. It contains a wealth of detail and explores such themes as long held religious beliefs in a time of cataclysmic change, loyalty, comradeship and love in a complex plot that is forever twisting and turning.


“The Diomedeia” by Gregory Michael Nixon receives 4.5 stars from The Historical Fiction Company


To have your book editorially reviewed, go HERE


bottom of page