2011; 440 pages. New Author? : Yes. Genre : Historical Mystery. Overall Rating : 7½*/10.
one of the colossal statues of Pharaoh topples over during a festival at the
temple of Ptah, it seems to be an unfortunate accident. When a second statue and a pylon also
collapse, one wonders if it is a sign from Ptah. But then priests start having their throats
slashed, and a more earthly cause seems more likely.
is both the high priest of Ptah and a son of the Pharaoh. It’s up to him to figure out the “Who” and “How”
of these incidents. His brother, the
Crown Prince Hori, soon arrives to help.
Which means there are two more targets for whoever is behind all this.
What’s To Like...
setting – the Egyptian city of Memphis during the reign of Ramesses II – is superbly
done. It “felt” real to me, being
neither a dry information dump nor too vague and generic.
The mystery aspect of Pharaoh’s Son,
is passably decent. The “Who”
of the whodunit are easy to spot, although there’s one red herring to keep you
one your toes. The investigation is more
a matter of determining the “Why”. The motives
and actions of the bad guys hold together reasonably
well. But there are some loose ends –
such as telepathic messages and “beings of light” that ANAICT, were never
is also a spiritual tinge to the story, and this is where things get
clunky. Gospel allusions get dropped
into the dialogue (forgiveness, the perils of materialism, reaping what one sows, etc.),
but none of it ever impacts the storyline.
More importantly, it doesn’t jive with ancient Egyptian theology, not
even with Amenhotep IV’s monotheistic deity, Aten. More on this in a bit.
characters, especially the two protagonists, are well-developed. There are a poopload of them to follow. The author provides a cast of characters
section, but unfortunately, it comes after the end of the story. This may work in a “book book”, but not on a
Kindle, which are inherently formatted to open to the first page. It might be better to put the list just ahead
of page 1 in the Kindle version.
eyes were shining. “I’d gladly die for
Your Royal Highness!” he exclaimed.
The Crown Prince sat back and looked him over
in a puzzled fashion. “What is it about
me,” he wondered aloud, “that constantly compels those around me to seek
death? I don’t want anyone to die for
me: it depletes the ranks of my allies which are, alas, far too thin as it
stands.” (loc. 3258)
“And then what do we do?” asked Idefa.
“Get out of here, of course,” said
Khay. “Didn’t you hear them? They mean to put me to the torture, and I don’t
intend to be here when they come back.”
“They can’t torture you!” Idefa objected,
aghast. “You’re Pharaoh’s son!”
“Kings’ sons bleed like anyone else,” Khay
said. “Sometimes more easily.” (loc. 7154)
Pharaoh’s Son sells for $2.99 at Amazon. Diana
Wilder has two other murder-mysteries set in roughly the same time and place, also
but they do not appear to be sequels, as the protagonists are different.
“Amun's breath and bones!" (loc. 992)
Once upon a long time ago, there was a Finnish
writer named Mika Waltari. He wrote a
number of historical fiction novels, including one called The Egyptian., set in almost the exact same time
period Pharaoh’s Son. Waltari, like Ms. Wilder, paid major
attention to historical accuracy, and I ate up maybe a half dozen of his books
back in my salad days since I’ve always been a history buff. Unfortunately, Waltari was a devout
Christian, and he couldn’t help but let his spiritual views seep into his
stories. Which really detracted from otherwise
don’t know what the author's religious views are; she is certainly not as
heavy-handed as Waltari was. But even
so, I think this genre of literature is better served without the spiritual
aspects, unless they are an intrinsic part of the mystery. And if theology is called for in the
plotline, at least make it consistent with the prevailing doctrines of the
But I pick at nits. Pharaoh’s Son is recommended for fans of
both Historical Fiction and Murder Mystery.
The pacing is good, I really didn’t think there were any slow spots, and
the story wraps up nicely. 7½ Stars.