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The Fragmentary Canaanite Myths - an Editorial Review of "Canaad"

Updated: Mar 1, 2023

Book Blurb:

"Gods against gods, men against men, each kind / against each other: Who is in the right? / Truly, which ones could ever conquer Death?" So Laeya--the Canaanite goddess Athirat masked in human form--asks after a crucial battle. Situated in the interimperial turmoil of the Late Bronze Age, Canaad follows this heroine's journey as it dovetails with that of Aqhat, a refugee from the Levantine coast. After tragedy casts Aqhat into the desert, a prophecy affords him the opportunity to slay three deities before the year's end and thereby become divine himself. Determined to right the wrongs of those responsible for his community's suffering, he and his companions join forces with Laeya, setting out to permanently revolutionize how mortals and gods interrelate--with consequences that even the gods cannot fathom. At once a speculative and historically attuned study of religion, Canaad brings the Ancient Near East to life in tangible and dramatic form, weaving together largely unknown histories and numerous fragmentary myths from a Canaanite perspective.

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Author Bio:

Dan is an award-winning author and philosophy professor at Dillard and Xavier Universities in New Orleans. He completed his second MA and PhD in philosophy at Villanova University after studying at Loyola University Chicago. When not hiking or cooking, he enjoys exploring life's bigger questions through multiple genres, such as aphorisms, op-eds, encyclopedia entries, poetry, fiction, song, and essays, and he is currently at work on a horror novella.

Editorial Review:

Canaäd by D. A. Wood is a unique book in several different ways. First, it is set in a time period that is often not seen in historical fiction. Canaäd tells the story of Aqhat Son of Danel and is set in ancient times when the kingdoms of the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Hittites ruled the land. Aqhat encounters countless figures from history and myth which readers will love. Canaäd is also unique in its storytelling style. Aqhat’s story is told in an epic poetry style like that of Homer’s famous Illiad and The Odyssey. While this was common for much literature written in ancient and long ago times, it is a unique experience for readers to read a modern book written in this style.

The sky inhaled blue wreathes of smoke and then

exhaled deep sleep on the community,

a timely gift, for most would need to rest

their arms and legs before they plowed the land

for wheat and barley in the coming days.”

The writing that can be found within the pages of Canaäd is phenomenal. It is rich in detail and imagery that allows the reader to travel back into the ancient past. It is clear that the author is well-trained in literary writing and understands the craft needed to pull off epic poetry in a magnificent and readable way. Another key element of this book is the vocabulary that is incorporated within the writing. The word choices in this poem are intelligent and academic in nature which might be difficult for some more casual readers. However, literature lovers will relish in the smart, detailed, and rich writing in Canaäd.

This is my favorite time, when all have closed

heir eyes, our bright ancestral kings above

protecting us on their nocturnal rounds.

I’ve never seen them but I know they’re there.

Can those with vision hear the stars, or does sight’s favoritism cancel out their song?”

D. A. Wood has taken ancient cultures that most people are unfamiliar with and turned them into literary masterpieces. It is clear that the author has put in plenty of research to be able to create a clear story that makes sense for the time period. Historical references and elements are expertly crafted and referenced throughout Canaäd and are historically accurate. These references include everything from real ancient kings and pharaohs to the characters of ancient myths such as the story of Gilgamesh. The traditional stories and myths liven up the plot and provide an insight into many of the cultures found in the ancient time period in which Canaäd is set. Wood includes a large reference section at the back of the book that provides sources that were used to research the background and historical elements of the books. Readers whose interests have been piqued by Canaäd will easily be able to conduct their own further research on this time period by using the sources provided by Wood. While the style that Canaäd is written in is unique, it should also be noted that the time period is one that is unique to literature. Very few books written in recent times are based in this time period or setting.

And who had taught him how to best survive?

Who fought off beasts of prey when he was young?

None but his taurine father, kind and true.”

A plethora of characters, events, and unfamiliar words are included within Canaäd. The amount of information that the reader must absorb to fully understand this book is enormous. The author clearly anticipated this and thus, included a lengthy glossary in the book that readers can easily reference to help them better understand that story. The glossary includes everything from characters to cities and will be incredibly helpful for readers.

The rest shall be allowed to go in peace

if they too swear to seal within their breasts

the costly means of their deliverance.”

The manuscript of Canaäd is clean and well-proofread. There are no obvious errors and it maintains the poetry formatting throughout the entire book. The epic poetry style may also be an element of Canaäd that is difficult for modern readers. Even in such a strange style, readers will find that the story and the text flow easily, and the pacing of Canaäd is quite quick. It may take some effort but many readers will be able to engage with the story and genuinely enjoy the experience that Canaäd provides.

Aqhat and Gabbar drifted in the sea,

repeating what he’d taught them till the three

men made their way toward shore beneath the sun,

encaked in salt like fish to be preserved.”

The intended audience for Canaäd is those readers who enjoy Egyptian mythology and history. Written in the style of an epic poem, readers who enjoy books with strong literary merit and style will also appreciate this book. Because of the format and writing style of Canaäd, many casual readers may find this story to be difficult to read. The book is also quite lengthy which may also be a deterrent to many readers. If readers can look past the length of the book and stay engaged, they will be in for a real treat.

In truth I only wanted to show off,

to bare my strength, exert my will, and use

your recent gift to garner your esteem,

entirely forgetting where I was.

I’ve come to understand that moment as

a seed, a starting point from which have shot

forth tangled roots and disparate offshoots.

I wanted to impress you, then as now.”

D. A. Wood has taken a unique setting that is not typically written about in this style and created a stunning epic poem rich in detail and imagery. While it will require readers to stay engaged with the text and have a strong reading background, Canaäd is a phenomenal book that is unique in today’s literary scene.


“Canaad” by D. A. Wood receives five stars and the “Highly Recommended” award of excellence from The Historical Fiction Company



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