In my early stages of writing the Antonius Trilogy, I knew I'd need to visit Egypt. Due to 9-11, my husband really wasn't looking forward to me doing this, but when the timing was all systems go, we both knew it was mean to be. I placed my suitcase inside and empty suitcase, so I could bring stuff back, and boarded my flights. By the next morning, I was arriving in Cairo, already having had a breathtaking view of the Pyramids when landing.
My visit would consist of three days in Cairo, a week-log river cruise up the Nile into Upper Egypt, and then nearly a week in Alexandria to focus on the Ptolemaic history I needed to learn for my books.
Even though it's probable that Marc Antony never visited Upper Egypt, we know for a fact that Cleopatra did. In fact, the Upper Egyptians--who in her time WERE native Egyptians, loved her. She was the first Ptolemaic ruler to learn the ancient Egyptian language, among many others.
Upper Egypt turned out to be a fascinating place, complete with a camel ride into the Sahara, crocodiles, solar ovens, suqs, and the mystical majesty of Abu Simbel, which is within sight of the Sudan. My guides were incredible, and I was able to eat some of the best seafood I've ever had from the Red Sea, once I arrived in Aswan.
Naturally, I enjoy novels and the occasional non-fiction book on Egyptian history. And that's why I was so thrilled to have stumbled upon Wilbur Smith. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith is now passed on, but the beauty of authoring books is that your work lives on, and in his case, it THRIVES. Smith's bio suggests that he was a "Phenomenon", and after reading his work, I don't doubt it at all.
Here is my review of my first Wilbur Smith book: River God, my #2 best read of 2022.
Read on, everyone!
River God by Wilbur Smith
Reviewed by Brook Allen
Whenever someone at work "gives" things away, they leave the items on a long table in the lounge. I discovered River God among some other used books sitting there one day, and since I have a passion for the ancient world, I picked it up and read the back-cover blurb. Curiously, the book was brand new--had never been cracked. I had never read Wilbur Smith, so I figured at the least, it would be a new author for me.
What. A. Read.
This is Indiana Jones Meets Lord of the Rings and gets smacked with Egyptology. I could hardly put this book down. Now, for those with weak stomachs, be advised that Smith does not hedge away from gore. He describes EVERYTHING in technicolor, and nothing is sacred--not even the Egyptian gods. However, Smith (sadly now passed away) could spin an adventure tale like nobody else I've ever read.
Taita is the unlikely hero of the book, though through his telling in first person, one might think the real hero is Tanus or Memnon. Nevertheless, Smith chose a slave--a crafty eunuch who has more than one reason for hating his master--as the story-teller/protagonist in the plot. Taita has one real weakness, and that is his love for his mistress, Lostris. As the story builds, so do the characters, and Smith uses everything from the Book of the Dead to biological warfare to enhance a river of fabulous story as steadily flowing as the Nile.
Antagonists include the purely evil Intef, the disgusting Aktoun of Ethiopia, and various Hyksos conquerors. This is NOT pure historical fiction, for there are many dubious plot devices that are probably not period-authentic or even possible for that matter. But that being said, Smith provides readers with hearty and original entertainment taking place during a murky time in Egyptian history--the Hyksos conquest over Egypt. And the adventure is as rich as a Pharaoh's tomb!
Suffice it to say--I have already read the second book in the series (The Seventh Scroll), which is already marked as one of my favorite reads of 2023. Will it be my favorite? Only time will tell.
If you're at all intrigued by ancient history and love adventure and romance--READ THIS BOOK!
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