Copy received from the author
When Glenn Starkey asked me if I would like to review his novel, part of my answer was, “To be honest, I am not one for historical fiction BUT, the fact that it's set in Ancient Egypt already interests me. I am by no means a 'fundi' on Egyptian history, however your excerpt has intrigued me - so much so, that I will certainly make the time to read it.” I received this book last night and all I did today besides eat at the appropriate times and only when the grumbling got too loud, was read this wonderful story. I finished it today.
It begins with an archaeologist finding scrolls in the Valley of Kings. The Englishman sits in hope that the Bedouin (the village elder) has good news for him. This could be his chance at fame. After being reprimanded for only wanting the glitz, the village elder explains that the archaeologist has indeed found a treasure, but not one of gold as he had hoped – one worth so much more than that. He begins translating the scrolls and not only is the Englishman sent on a journey of Egypt and it’s rulers, but so was I.
Set in Ancient Egypt, this book takes you through political and religious power struggles which are pretty much still evident today and from one Pharaoh to another. A woman, his wife no less, Hatshepsut, who refused to be the Queen of Egypt and swore with vehemence that she would rule both worlds of Egypt, the Upper and Lower as their Pharaoh, their King. Unheard of. The birth of Tehutmus’ two sons, one who shall succeed him and born to bloodline, Tetimas and his brother Sakkara. The death of Tehutmus II through Hatshepsut's plotting and conspiracies with the mad, evil and malicious priest, Ashwan, who in turn desperately and ruthlessly covets the title of Supreme Magus, ruler of all priests. Hatshepsut's hatred for Tetimas who could very well take what she wants most, coupled with anger born from only bearing females.
You will follow these two young men from their birth to adulthood, through struggles, loss and sadness but also through their courageous efforts to make their father proud, not excluding the fact that a strong bond of love is forged between them although born of different mothers. Each wears a ring given to them by their father. Tetimas’ bore a Cobra and Sakarra’s bore a Scarab. This quote says it all: “...and the scarab will always protect the cobra and the cobra will always protect the scarab.”
Glenn Starkey has woven the most glorious story full of amazing descriptions be they from the clothes worn to the battles of war, from the luxurious palace to the humble markets. The gloriousness of The Nile but also the fears that lurk within. You are never once left without a vivid picture of some sort in your head. The friendships and trust between the true Pharaoh’s and those closest to them is inspiring and forged to the death. Humour and crassness is brought forth in the dialogue, but however dark some parts may be due to the horrors carried out by Ashwan, they have a rightful place in this novel. I can very well believe that the depiction of savageness, evil and madness took place. Every single character is extremely well written. The true Pharaoh shall lead his people and rule over Egypt but the journey to this end is marred by atrocities.....
This novel really touched me and I will freely admit that I was left teary eyed quite a few times throughout. I loved everything about this book. It’s written beautifully and depicted magnificently. One can see that it was thoroughly researched by the author. Mr. Starkey wrote on his website and I quote: “I thoroughly enjoyed writing this novel. It allowed me to combine my love for history with action, adventure and intrigue, plus a tale of the bond between two brothers from their births to adulthood.” I know that this is true because this is exactly what I got.
Three quotes I liked and there are so many
“I have no idea. My physicians make it especially for me to prevent what you now feel. Drink it down. And by Seth’s stinking buttocks, do not smell it!”
“By Osiris’ erect scepter, cover yourself, man! Remember, you are a prince, not a commoner or slave.”
“Who fully knows how a woman thinks? Like a sandstorm rolling across the desert, shifting the dunes at whim, then leaving until another day to return and shift them again, who can explain such reason as to why one grows tall and one is leveled. But always they change and such is the thinking of a woman. I would never profess to understand a woman’s logic, and only Allah, the merciful and benevolent, can do so.”
One of my favourite characters is Muehe (the Queen’s slave). He is hilarious and the vision left in my head makes me laugh constantly.
I have read many a book this year and a whole lot of them I loved. Two of those will stay with me for a very, very long time. The Cobra and Scarab: A Novel of Ancient Egypt, is one of them. Mr. Starkey, you truly have a way with words and you Sir, are a master at story telling. This would make for a glorious movie. (I also loved the fact that the author used his grandson's name, Caleb, in the book)
A must read and I highly recommend it. It rightfully deserves a 5 star rating and is a definite keeper!
You can connect with the author on Twitter @GStarkeyBooks
RATING: 5 STARS
RATING: 5 STARS