March 14, 2012

Book: The Hippopotamus Marsh by Pauline Gedge

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 8:57 am

Despite the risk of turning this blog into a Pauline Gedge review board, (which is definitely not the purpose of this blog) let me write about another of her books.

This is the first part of a Trilogy and I do have the same grouse that I had for Lord of the Rings, Part I, in that the story ends abruptly in the middle, assuming that every reader would buy the other two books to know what happened.

With that rant  out of the way, though, I should say that this is a fascinating book, like many others by Gedge. It talks about the period in Egyptian history where the Pharoahs were driven out of most of Egypt and the country was ruled by Hyskos. Interestingly, this is the subject matter for many other authors as well, for instance, Wilbur Smith’s works, and it is interesting to see the contrast in the treatment of the story by the various authors.

The story starts with the Governer of Weset, a southern province, Prince Sequenenra and the Horus throne being occupied by a Setiu King (Hyskos were  known as Setiu in local Egyptian tounge) Apepa. Sequenenra plans a rebellion but is betrayed both by his eldest son, Si-Amun, who is uncomfortable with the plan with a weak army, and by a spy in
Sequenenra’s household. The prince is attacked by the spy, and is paralyzed – was almost dead but survived. This does not stop him from raising an army, only to be betrayed again by the spy and is roundly destroyed by the waiting Apepa’s army and is killed in the battle.
The spy is executed summarily by a repentant Si-Amun who ends his own life. Apepa summarily exiles the remaining sons of Sequenenra (Prince Kamose, Prince Ahmose) and takes away their sister as a hostage. It appears that the Pharoahs are destined to vanish without a trace and that the Setiu will rule forever…

The story moves on, but involves, in addition to the two princes, Ahmose-Nefretiri, the sister-wife of Si-Amun, Tetisheri, the mother of Sequenenra, Aahotep, wife of Sequenenra and the Medjay (tribal) warrior Hor-Aha and a lot of other princes paying obeisance to Apepa out of necessity.

It is a very well told story and holds your interest. There are no places where the story sags, and as ever, Pauline’s gift for bringing the ancient life of Egypt in front of you is as acute as ever.

A good read, unless you do not like having to buy more than one book to complete the story. (In which case, I assume you did not read Lord of the Rings, did not see the movies, did not see the second part of Matrix called Matrix Reloaded) 🙂

I would definitely say a 7/10

— Krishna


1 Comment »

  1. I’ve noticed that a lot of people who write ancient Egyptian historical fiction focus on the invasion of the Hyksos, but I’ve yet to encounter a book this well-researched and interesting. It’s definitely a good read because it’s fast-paced for historical fiction. And the characters are amazing, especially poor, tragic Si-Amun.

    Comment by Carrie Slager — April 23, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

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