Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Book Relay, Part II

I've been playing at BookRelay for the page month or so. I've participated in three relays so far. Unfortunately, one of these died and I had to ressurect it by accepting my own offer and posting another book to see if anyone was interested in it. But, I've had the opportunity to read some books that I might not have discovered at all if it hadn't been for this book-trading site.

The Mask of Ra by P. J. DohertyThe Mask of Ra by Paul Doherty was offered in an exchange for "first books in a mystery series". I looked it up on Amazon.com and decided that it sounded pretty good. The person who was offering it had commented that she started reading the book, didn't like it, and never finished it. But I figured that even if I didn't enjoy the book, I could offer it to someone else. Turns out that the story was fun to read.

Set in 1479 BC, the book begins as Pharoah Tuthmosis II is triumphantly returning to Thebes from a series of battles along the Nile. He's barely home when he drops dead in his wife's arma. Tuhatsu, half-sister as well as wife to Tuthmosis, is of even more royal lineage than the dead Pharoah and she decides to take the title for herself. Needless to say, Egypt is in an uproar. When it is suspected that Tuthmosis's death was caused by a snakebite, the captain of his guard is arrested for failing to protect the Pharoah. Enter Amerotke, cheif judge, who must sort out the truth of this and several other murders by snakebite.

I got so interested in the Pharoahs that I spent several hours researching online and reading about the succession from Tuthmosis II to Tutankhamun.

The Horus Killings by P. J. Doherty Along with The Mask of Ra, the Relayer sent the second book in the series, The Horus Killings, so I went straight on to that book as soon as I finished the first book. In this story, Amerotke must again solve the murders of priests and scholars amid the politcal turmoil caused by Hatusu's claim to the throne. Having convinced her privy council to support her bid to be recognized as Pharoah and won the hearts of the populus by defeating the Mitanni hordes, she now needs the approval of the high priests of the various temples. They convene a conference to determine if there is any precedent for having a woman rule the country. Unfortunately, someone is so opposed to granting Hatusu the title of Pharoah that supporters are being murdered horribly.

I intend to find the other books in this series. The mix of history and intrigue is pretty good. The characters have quite a contemporary feel to them, and yet there were no historical discrepancies that I could find. I think that must be a difficult task—to create characters who seem at home in the historic setting, yet just as human as the people you run into today.

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