By the Waters of Babylon Summary

By the Waters of Babylon Summary

The protagonist, John, starts out by introducing his village. He says that their people could go anywhere in the village except east because that is where the forbidden place is. They call it the Dead Places, and only priests or sons of priests can go there in search of metal. Then he says that he is a priest and a son of a priest, and describes the day his father went with him in search for metal. When John touched the metal dauntlessly, he became the priest. Later, he was allowed to go to the Dead Places and get metal alone.

John always wanted to have more knowledge, so he always asked himself questions and looked for their answers. He then planned to go to the Place of Gods, but before going he took permission from his father who, after a long time of thinking, agreed. However, his father warned him of the dangers that might await him there. He told his father that he dreamed of this place and decided that it was time to go there.

He started his journey early in the morning, fasting, and waiting for any sign that assured him that the right place to go was east. Three signs appeared after each other and John decided to go. He arrived at the river and was scared to continue. However, he decided to continue. He made a raft and began to cross the river, singing his death song. He arrived safely and started describing it as a beautiful place. He said that most of what the people and the priests say about the Place of Gods is not true. For instance, it is not a place full of fog and enchantments as they said. Yet it was full of ruins and destroyed buildings. The Great Burning still had its effect on the place. John saw a statue with the name UBTREAS carved on it and another one with the name ASHING. He did not understand what they meant but decided to pray to the god ASHING. He then wandered and ate the foods of the Gods that were in ‘enchanted boxes and jars’, and then slept in one of the houses.

He went to a big house and saw a locked door and thought it is opened by a magic word. He described the house he went as a very rich house, full of valuable items. He guessed that the god who lived there was very powerful. As he walked, he always wanted to increase his knowledge, to end the burn of knowledge in him. He then slept when the night fell. Suddenly, he woke up in his dream to see lights everywhere in the place of gods, and he saw the place alive again in his dreams. He saw the gods and saw motion everywhere. He saw them in the river and in the air. The buildings were not ruined. The place was beautiful. Then abruptly fire fell from the sky and the Great Burning occurred, killing all of the gods and destroying most of their buildings.

The dream made John get everything about the Place of Gods. He knew that after all, they were not Gods, they were men and this was a normal city long ago until a disaster ruined it. John was not scared anymore. He told his father about it all.

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