Babylon Rising, Chapter 51

Another Nebuchadnezzar chapter, written all in italics, and it’s starting to piss me off just a tad.  I mean, these chapters are so freaking rare (6 chapters out of 70!), that they really yank you out of the real story.  Plus, the first two King Neb chapters are Chapters Two and Six, which makes you think that this is actually going to be something important to the plot, but it really isn’t.  Like, at all.  Plus, then there are twenty-four chapters until the next one, so you forget it’s even part of the story at all.

Why not just make more of the damn things and have them mean something?  The entire focus is on King Neb, with David as a side character (even though he is Teh Most Important Prophet Evar ZOMG), but why not follow the “life” of the Brazen Serpent in its entirety?  Then we could actually see it all the way from Moses getting it, to evil high priest Dakkuri breaking it apart and hiding the pieces with little puzzles and clues, and then we could see how Murphy and Isis break those same codes in modern times.  That might actually mean something.

Instead, we get King Neb watching as his totally bitchin’ statue of himself is yanked into standing position by thousands of slaves.  Neb revels at the thought of “thousands of men crying out either from the pain of torn muscles and snapped tendons (oh shit, ouch!) or simply relief that their torment was over.”

I’m no architect or engineer, but really?  They built this gigungo statue so that it was lying down on the ground, then they lifted it so it was standing upright?  Really?  Am I just totally off-base in thinking that is waaay less efficient than just building it already standing up?

Anyway, ooooo, the statue is everything Daniel said it would be, legs of iron, chest and arms of silver, head of gold, 90 cubits high.  Now, cubit has meant different lengths in different periods of history, so I’m just going to ballpark the statue as being between 90 and 177 feet tall.  Which, again, cool.  And Neb is all excited because the face of the statue actually looks like his own face, and he is happy because he is the bestest king ever.

Blah, blah, blah, it’ll be another eighteen chapters until we’re back in ancient times again, so why should I care?


Posted on July 17, 2010, in Babylon Rising, Books. Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Hey, HOLD on just one cotton-pickin’ minute here!

    Are these chapters re-telling bible stories in different words?

    I thought that was a Big No-No in RTC-land. See recent discussion on Slacktivist about Millennial Day Care.

    If the statue can’t be built on site, it would make sense to lie it flat for transport.

    Quite hard to build a 177-foot tall structure out of iron without knowing a bit of engineering, though. Really hard to use silver as a structural material, particularly if it has to bear the weight of gold!

    • You’ve given me an idea for a post to bring that very idea into more detail.. Hopefully I can get it done tomorrow.

      In the meantime, looks like I was off on the measurements. My NIV Bible puts the measurement of King Neb’s statue at exactly 90 feet.

  2. Also, gold is pretty soft unless alloyed with another metal. Gold is fairly pointless as a structural metal for this reason. Modern construction techniques would probably involve electroplating gold over steel in a mixture of aqua regia, assuming the acids didn’t eat the steel instead.

    I’m pretty sure even the ancients knew about the problems with using gold as a structural material.

  3. Well, to be fair, only the head is gold, so it’s not supporting any structures other than itself. Now the silver chest has to support the gold head, which is a problem if the statue were solid. But very few statues actually are solid; most are platings over a framework; not only is that lighter by several orders of magnitude, it’s cheaper too. So you’ve still got a gold ‘shell’ around an iron-frame head (or copper, depending on the era) sitting on an iron-frame, silver-shelled chest, sitting on iron-frame, iron-plated legs.

    • You know, that seems oddly familiar. Didn’t such a statue come up in Revelation, made of gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay?

      • I believe so, yes, and if so it’s certainly a reference to the Daniel one.

        Revelation is absolutely packed with references to the other books of the Bible. Sometimes it just reverses situations found there, sometimes it uses old lines in new contexts, sometimes it has things play out exactly the same, etc.

        That’s really the main reason to suspect that the author wasn’t high when it was written (:P), it’s too internally consistent.

      • Looks like Rev 13:14…

        And yes, they do indeed build such a statue of Nicolae Climb Ev’ry Mountain in the LB series. 😀

  4. Wait, what? Are they talking about Nebuchadnezzar statue as a real object?

    The whole point of that chapter is that it deals with a prophetic dream, which Daniel interpreted for King Neb. Thus impressing him so much that Daniel became one of his trusted advisers, advancing to high rank in at the Babylonian court.

    (Until, of course, a difference of opinion arose with a later king:
    He said:—“Your Daniel is a dead little pigeon.
    He’s a good hard worker, but he talks religion.”
    And he showed them Daniel in the lion’s cage.
    Daniel standing quietly, the lions in a rage.

    Anyway, are our authors being more literal than the Bible? The identification of the parts of the dream statue with various real or symbolic empires has been a favorite game of Biblical interpreters since forever, and they want to replace that with an actual physical object, complete with groaning slaves hauling on the ropes just like in every “Bible-times” B-movie? I’d have thought the prophetic interpretation would be much more their style.

    Very odd indeed.

  5. So do you think these Nebuchadnezzar chapters have a point? Or are they just there to show the “connection” between the real story and the biblical one?

  6. why not follow the “life” of the Brazen Serpent in its entirety…

    Somehow, that reminds me of the short stories in American Gods—little fragments of the lives of gods (and people) in the “new world” before the storm.

    It also makes me imagine these books as written by Neil Gaiman, which is kinda cool and also kinda depressing.

  7. The entire focus is on King Neb, with David as a side character (even though he is Teh Most Important Prophet Evar ZOMG),

    I’m surprised no one noticed this, but I think you meant Daniel here, not David.

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