Paul Doherty is the consummate professional when it comes to writing historical novels. I for one do not know how he can be so prolific with his offering of books and yet make sure that each of them is well researched. He has now written a number of books set in Ancient Egypt and they are attracting as big a following of readers as his medieval novels. Whether he is writing about the 13th, 14th, or fifteenth century they are always true to the period. He has also taken to writing about Alexander the Great. Paul Doherty has the rare talent of making you feel as though you are there, be it Ancient Egypt, medieval England, or battling with Alexander. The sounds and smells of the period seem to waft from the pages of his books.
This is another in the series of books featuring Judge Amerotke, a crime solver in the reign of Pharoah Hatsu.. Disaster strikes, at of all things a peace treaty signing, a treaty between Egypt and Libya that is taking place in Thebes. Three of Egypt's leading scribes die a violent death on the forecourt of the Temple. They are the victims of poison. Rumours begin to sweep through the city, the Poisoner of Ptah has returned.
It becomes the task of Amerotke, Chief Judge to investigate these crimes, but by doing so Amerotke has to enter the twilight world of Thebes, where anything is possible if you have money in your pocket. Virtually anything can be bought or sold for a price, but death stalks the streets for the unwary . . .
on 11 December 2008
If you have been following PC Doherty's Amerotke series, about a judge/ investigator for the Pharaoh, this is by far the book with the most depth to it. The plot is more developed and convoluted, and there are more characters.
As with all of the series it is set in the ancient Egypt of Pharoah Hatusu, (about 1473-1458 BC), (who is better known by the name of Hatshepsut and is most famous as the female Pharoah who ruled alone-- not just as a figure-head-- in a time of peace and prosperity.)
This is such an interesting time I wish Doherty would put more effort into the setting and the era and of how it must have been to have a woman ruler---everyone seems to take it for granted she was totally accepted, which seems to me as doubtful. Also, the question of her commoner lover, Senenmut---that is, everyone from her time to ours assumes he was her lover---of course he would have caused hate, envy and jealousy. It would be interesting to have some of the volumes cover these issues.
Doherty covered the Akhenaten/Tutankhamun era so well in his trilogy "An Evil Spirit Out of the West", The Season of the Hyaena" and "The Year of the Cobra", I wish he would turn these rather light mystery novels into something of the sort as he did with the era of Pharaohs Akhenaten/Tutankhamun in the trilogy just mentioned. But, those were larger, in depth and more serious novels and this series is definitly more easy, quick, mysteries, to be read at a couple of sittings, but nevertheless enjoyable.
I also wish more effort was put into Amerotke, his wife and family. One never feels as though one really knows him even after all the books so far. I have little feeling if any of what he looks like for example, or of the real relationship between his wife and himself-- she and the children are shadow characters to be pulled out every so often to assure us he has a happy family. Having said THAT though, Doherty does excell at making you feel you are IN ancient Egypt, at bringing to life the sights, sounds, images of the place.
In part the problem MAY be that the author is such a prolific writer, go to his web site, under several names he has written over 50 books, all set in historical eras, (he is a historian) but how anyone can keep up such a pace is mind boggling!! I wish he would slow down, settle on a time (such a my favorite ancient Egypt) and write a real masterpiece!!!
To clarify the order of the series of Amertoke is: 1.The Mask of Ra 2.The Horus Killings 3.The Anubis Slayings 4.Slayers of Seth 5. Assassins of Isis 6.Poisoner of Ptah. (All titles refer to an Egyptian god or goddess).