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on 27 January 2011
"Scroll of Saqqara", published under the alternative title Mirage: A Novel in the US, is an insidious mystery tale that will get under your skin, and the sheer turmoil wrought on the protagonists will keep you gripped until the very end. Pauline Gedge draws her inspiration for the plot both from the life of the real Khaemwaset but also in large part from a later work of Ptolemaic literature, written about a thousand years after the real man lived, called "Setna and the Mummies" which was a fusion of fairytale and Egyptian folk memory about this royal prince of the past. Pauline Gedge uses the Ptolemaic text as a basis, and draws upon her own imagination with stunning vision to create a tale that is altogether darker than the original.

Truly chilling, "Scroll of Saqqara" has a plot of dark and terrible fascination. The unravelling of the lives of Khaemwaset and his family is a bit of a slow-burner, but I found this wildly tantalising and a spur to continue reading. I found myself practically tearing through the pages to get to the climax and resolution of this riveting and compelling story, built so up subtly and plausibly that failure of the characters to notice what is going on until it's too late was entirely believable. Each page I tore through in my desire to see how the tale would spin out was also a page of delicious agony; I was deeply engaged with these characters and cared about what would happen to them, but as a reader on the outside looking in I was powerless to help the characters I'd come to root for. There were definitely moments where I was mentally yelling at the protagonists for one of them, any of them, to come to their senses, but the great thing is that Gedge never wavers from letting these characters take their own paths and the result is a powerfully riveting story. As the sting in the tale is played out, you get a deeply unsettling sense that things are very, very wrong, but the plot is so compelling that one cannot wrench one's eyes away from the unfolding disaster.

The characters are fleshed out real people with three-dimensional motivations, personalities and complexities. Each and every single one of them is sensible, plausible and most importantly thoroughly believable. This ought to be something which readers expect and demand from every single book we read. Every scene has a purpose, every piece of dialogue fits the character speaking it and is well-constructed and well thought out. Pauline Gedge is a class act as an author, and once again her writing skill shines through here as in every novel she turns out, the sheer quality of her storycraft and knowledge of language is rarely matched. With both, she weaves together a whole package that transcends the nonsense that's so often put out these days (so often in fact that I was beginning to wonder if people had begun to just accept it and lower their expectations!) and is in a stratosphere which few books inhabit. I found only three reviews of this book on Amazon UK and one of those was a copy of a review on Amazon USA, which itself only had 8 reviews - astonishing given just how good this novel is, suggesting to me that this novel has been overlooked for far too long.

Pauline Gedge is a star of a writer, and "Scroll of Saqqara" is a hidden gem of a book whose complex characters and searing plot will stay with you long after you've turned the last page. Gedge's knowledge of the setting and environment in which her characters move, the culture and day to day life of Egypt is genuinely astounding. The worlds she creates are vibrant, vivid and colourful, and bring the ancient world to life as a real time and place where our flesh and blood ancestors really existed and made their lives. Her descriptions are sublime, springing to life in the reader's imagination with all the clarity of the original vision of the author.

"Scroll of Saqqara" is deliciously well-written, chillingly unsettling, and one hundred percent compelling. Enough said!
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on 7 February 2009
I purchased this book for my wife who is a keen Pauline Gedge fan, she thinks that the book is really good and is up to the usual high standards of the author. I was pleased to find this book as most high street book stores have very little stocks of Pauline Gedge books. When you consider that Stargate was written by this author it is hard to understand the absence of her work in shops like Borders and Waterstones.
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on 29 April 2009
This is a very well written book, giving a good insight into Egypt and a way of life way back in history. A thoroughly enjoyable read (as are her other Egyptian novels)
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