Thursday, January 22, 2009

Review: Seer of Egypt, Volume Two of The King's Man Trilogy by Pauline Gedge

This has really been a slow month for me, hardly any posts for January. I have had the book blogging blahs, I've been avoiding the computer like the plague. Has this happened to anyone else out there in blogland? I've been reading instead (which I love) and now I have quite a pile of completed books stacked up and no desire to write a review. What's up with that? Aaargh. Here's hoping I can pull myself out of my doldrums and get those reviews rolling again...

This series fictionalizes the life of Huy, who was a famous seer and healer in Ancient Egypt. He was born into a peasant family from a small town in Egypt's fertile Delta region. Volume One of this series, The Twice Born, relates Huy's childhood and the shocking event that would shape his entire life to come. As a small boy his wealthy Uncle paid for Huy to attend a well known school. While he was there, Huy was taunted by some of the other students due to his peasant birth. One day a fellow student hit Huy in the head with a throwing stick. Huy was knocked out and fell into a deep pool of water. He drowned. While he was unconscious (make that dead), he had a strange dream in which the Gods of Egypt asked him to read and understand the Book of Thoth, Ancient Egypt's spiritual text, that was closely guarded by the priests. He awakens five days later in the house of the dead. His body has been awaiting the embalmers and his whole family is in mourning for him. The Gods have exacted a terrible price for Huy's life, they have given him the "gift" of seeing the future and healing the sick. Use of his "gift" leaves him with a terrible headache and has made him permanently impotent, but Huy does his best to put his new talent to use for the benefit of the poor people of Egypt.

When Seer of Egypt opens, Huy has moved into a small estate that Pharaoh has given him. He lives with his childhood friend, Ishat, who he has trained as his scribe. Huy is deeply in love with her but can never be a true partner to her, or give her the children she longs for. Together they care for the huge amounts of people who come seeking Huy's help and advice.

Huy has built a nice life for himself, with good friends and trustworthy servants. But he is not happy, he cannot have a true life partner and he worries constantly for the future of Egypt. Ishat eventually leaves his home to marry his best friend. Huy is heartbroken but goes on as best he can in his solitary, lonely, but successful life.

Eventually Huy realizes that he is shirking his promise to the Gods to understand the Book of Thoth. He hasn't even thought about it in many years, indeed he has done his best not to think of it at all. But he is beginning to see patterns in his visions. There are several occasions when he has a vision of danger to a friend or loved one. When he warns the person and encourages them to avoid the danger, the scenario always plays itself out anyway, but another innocent life is affected instead. The Gods always extract their due. He sees dire portents for the land of Egypt, too. He struggles, trying to decide what it is that the messages are trying to tell him.

Years pass and Huy is entrusted with the second Prince's education for a few months each summer, at Huy's estate. He grows to love the boy, who is like the son that Huy will never have. When the Price becomes Pharaoh, Huy is ordered to the Palace to be at the new King's right hand. With his future assured, Huy is in position to become one of the most powerful men in Egypt.

I have been a Pauline Gedge (and an Ancient Egypt) fan since I read her novel, Child of the Morning, many years ago. She was my first taste of Historical Fiction set in Ancient Egypt and I have loved it ever since. I have read all of her previous books and was thrilled to receive this one for review. I did enjoy it but I found it to be a little bit slow in places. It is like a bridge between the breathtaking events of The Twice Born and the concluding volume that will deal with the later years of Huy's life, when he gained great power and renown. While this novel has the author's wonderful descriptions of Ancient Egypt, from the peasant towns of the Nile to the palaces of the Pharaohs, it covers a period of over twenty years of Huy's life and there are sections where not very much is happening.

I do recommend it, as well as the rest of the Egypt novels by Pauline Gedge. But definitely read Volume One first so you have Huy's whole story and then you won't mind accompanying him through his middle years, probably the last peaceful time that he will have in his long life. (Did I mention that his "gift" also seems to keep him from aging? It is very sad for him to see his friends and loved ones aging, sickening, dying, while he stays looking like a fit twenty-something.) The author has created a fascinating character in Huy and I felt for him in his continuing struggle with a "gift" that is both a blessing and a curse. I'm looking forward to the final volume in this interesting series.

If you would like to try a Paulie Gedge book that stands alone, I would point you to Child of the Morning, my favorite of all her books, or Lady of the Reeds, another wonderful novel.

Visit the website here.

Seer of Egypt is published by Penguin Canada. ISBN 978-0-14-305293-7

Order Seer of Egypt from Amazon

Order The Twice Born from Amazon

Order Child of the Morning from Amazon

Order Lady of the Reeds from Amazon


Beth F said...

This sounds really interesting and Pauline Gedge is new to me. I love HF and an ancient Egypt setting is a good one. Another to add to my growing wish list. Thanks (I think).

Michele at Reader's Respite said...

Yes, I get the blogger blues more often than I'll admit. You can usually tell when I have it because I use more "filler" then and no book reviews. :P

Michelle Moran sparked my interest in Egyptian HF, so I think this one would be a good fit for me.

Thanks for bringing it to my attention...I'll go hunting for this one soon!

The Tome Traveller said...

Sorry, Beth! ;)

If you enjoyed Michelle Moran's Nefertiti and/or The Heretic Queen, I do think you would like Pauline Gedge.

Your blogger blues are beneficial to us, Michele, you always post such fun stuff that makes us laugh!


troutbirder said...

Sounds interesting. A new vista for my love of historical fiction. In case you interest I just finished a review of a Sharon Kay Penman novel. Yes Im enthralled by her work!

Jennifer Hudson Taylor said...

I haven't heard of this book until I saw your blog. Sounds interesting. I like the cover as well.

Becca said...

I have never read anything by Pauline Gedge but Ancient Egypt has always fascinated me and Huy sounds like a very interesting character whose story you can easily get involved in. I’ll have to go back and start with the first one though because I don’t want to miss anything.

Thank you!!

Thank you to Beth at Beth Fish Reads and to The Blogger Guide for helping me to customize my template and to Andrea at The Little Bookworm for improving my header!!

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New Hampshire, United States
Bibliophile, Anglophile, Traveller... I have been an avid reader all of my life, since I took the Dr. Seuss Dictionary away from my Mom when I was less than a year old because I wanted to read it myself. In college, where I earned my degree in English Literature, I was often asked "What are you going to do with it?" Now I finally have the answer to that question!!! Being employed as a Flight Attendant for twenty years has given me a lot of life experience and, better still, a lot of time to read. I love to travel for fun, too.