Tuesday, November 4, 2014
DESERT GOD by WILBUR SMITH
Prolific author Wilbur Smith has added to his Egyptian series with this adventure novel about a eunuch and his brilliant schemes to defeat the Hyksos people. They had taken over the northern section of the land along the Nile which forced the Egyptian pharoah and his people to the south. The Hyksos are a warlike people considered by the Egyptians to be below contempt in their crude way of life.
Taita is a eunuch who raised the young current pharoah and his sisters. He deeply loved their mother and promised to watch over them. He is shrewd, learned, knows many languages, is physically strong and accomplished at many things. He congratulates himself constantly, in fact, for his superiority. The young sisters adore him and one of his few failings is that they have him wrapped around their little fingers.
A mounting problem is that Egypt is in dire need of money. Taita learns that the Supreme Minos of Crete will be sending a vast treasure to his ally the Hyksos and he devises a plan to grab the money and fool everyone into thinking another country is responsible. Meanwhile, to his consternation the elder sister has fallen in love with one of his favored military men, but the girls must be offered as brides to the Supreme Minos as part of the plan.
The plan, of course, works brilliantly but there is much danger and need for Taita's clever inventions to overcome obstacles. Frankly I became weary of Taita and his bragging, but the story was engrossing. This is ancient Egypt after all so worship of various gods plays a large part in the plot; if you have forgotten, some of those gods are pretty frisky.
I wasn't wowed by Desert God but I must admit it's a good story which remains fully in that period of history with all its misconceptions. You are immersed in the life of the ruling families of the Middle East with a horrifying glance at the life of the slaves and the poor.