This masterpiece of historical fiction was based on the actual writings and historical records of Suppiluliumas I, the great Hittite king who dominated the Middle East around the 14th century, BC. He rebuilt the old capital of Hattusas, and from there exercised his Imperial Power over the Hittite heartland, controlling the lands between the Mediterranean and Euphrates. But he was not a king to sit back on his throne and pull the strings of his minions, advisors and subjects. No, he was hands-on, and long before he became king he made his way in the world, fighting and whoring and playing politics. His military career included dealing with the eastern kingdom of Mitanni, and regaining a solid grip on Syria. Janet Morris paints a solid portrait of Tasmisarri, Prince of the Realm -- wild, reckless, a rebel, who later in life becomes Suppiluliumas, the Great King, the "Pure Spring." At first, in his youth, Tasmi comes across as arrogant and even heartless, but beneath all that we can see the makings of a brilliant leader, a ruler who cares about his people and his empire. Just thinking about the amount of research Morris did in preparation to writing this epic, the note-taking, the outlining, the planning, staggers my mind. These ancient dynasties were complex and convoluted, and keeping names, dates and events straight alone are worthy of praise. Janet Morris is, besides being a wonderfully gifted writer and storyteller, a devoted scholar of history, and this novel was truly a labor of love for her.