City of the Plague God

City of the Plague God
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Release Date
January 12, 2021
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Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, an adventure based on ancient Mesopotamian mythology written by Sarwat Chadda, author of the Ash Mistry series. Characters from the Epic of Gilgamesh populate this high-stakes contemporary adventure in which all of Manhattan is threatened by the ancient god of plagues.

Thirteen-year-old Sik wants a simple life going to school and helping at his parents' deli in the evenings. But all that is blown to smithereens when Nergal comes looking for him, thinking that Sik holds the secret to eternal life.Turns out Sik is immortal but doesn't know it, and that's about to get him and the entire city into deep, deep trouble.

Sik's not in this alone. He's got Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, on his side, and a former hero named Gilgamesh, who has taken up gardening in Central Park. Now all they have to do is retrieve the Flower of Immortality to save Manhattan from being wiped out by disease. To succeed, they'll have to conquer sly demons, treacherous gods, and their own darkest nightmares.

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Sik spends most of his time working at this parents' deli in New York City. One evening when he's closing down and thinking about Mo, his adventurous botanist brother who died, he stumbles right into the path of two demons who just happen to be looking for Sik. They claim he has something valuable, and they need it to give to their god, Nergal. Nergal, god of plagues, will stop at nothing to get the Flower of Immortality and unleash chaos. Together with Belet, adopted daughter of the goddess Ishtar, and Gilgamesh, famous hero of legends, Sik must save his city and his family from a god who can unleash disease with a wave of his hand.

Going into CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD, I knew very little about Mesopotamia and even less about Mesopotamian mythology. I loved getting a glimpse into the myths of Ishtar, Nergal, Gilgamesh, Erishkigal, and more. Author Sarwat Chadda brings them to life in a powerful way, and I particularly appreciated the fun moment of Sik fanboying over Gilgamesh. Readers are also treated to a few incredible conflict scenes between or involving the gods that are full of exciting imagery and heart pumping stakes.

Among the pillars of legends, however, is a story very grounded in the harshness of reality. Sik is grieving over the loss of his brother, Mo, and trying to sort through the feelings of love, jealousy, and even a little resentment he had for him, the brother who always went on adventures but never took Sik. Belet, Sik's friend and daughter of Ishtar, is hurting in her own way as she strives to gain the attention of her mother and prove herself worthy of the goddess of war. Even Ishtar herself, along with famed hero Gilgamesh, carry the weight of centuries of history around with them, of war and strife and violence. No matter your immortality status, you never become immune to grief or pain. These heavy themes are approached in a caring and compassionate way with perfectly placed comic relief throughout.

CITY OF THE PLAGUE GOD is a heart-pounding, high action ride of Mesopotamian myth, family, friendship, and heroism, accompanied, of course, by a plague or two along the way.
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