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Pauline Gedge's historical novels set in ancient Egypt have found millions of fans around the world. This book is the fifth in that illustrious line and is the sequel to House of Dreams, in which Thu, a peasant girl cultivated to become Pharaoh's favorite concubine, is made the scapegoat for a murderous plot against him--and banished to her village, Aswat. 448 pp.
Like its predecessors, this fifth in a series is set at the height of ancient Egypt's influence. Gedge excels at setting the scene and subtly evoking a sense of the period as she tells a timeless story of greed, love, and revenge—a story that picks up 17 years after Thu has been banished to her native village of Aswat for her part in a plot to murder the Pharaoh Ramses. Kamen, a young soldier and the adopted son of a merchant, now on his way back from Nubia, spends the night in Aswat and is accosted by a blue-eyed woman who asks him to deliver an intricately bound package to the pharaoh. Kamen's companions dismiss the woman as mad, but he himself, not entirely convinced of her madness, agrees to take it. Back in the capital, he hands it over to his commanding general Paiis, and when Paiis realizes what the package contains—Thu's account of the role Paiis and others played in the plot to murder Ramses—he and his co-conspirators act quickly. Kamen is commanded to bring the woman to the city, and so, once again in Aswat, he and Thu narrowly escape an assassin. As Thu seeks a hearing in the capital, she and Kamen are ruthlessly hunted down by the former plotters. Only the intervention of the dying Ramses and his heir saves them. Justice is done, and Thu is not only reunited with her long-lost son but meets up again with the only man she's ever loved—the man who used, deserted, but never forgot her.
Thu is larger than life, and coincidences abound, but Gedge is so splendid a teller of tales that all is forgiven. First-class historical fiction.
Posted March 15, 2003
Lady of the Reeds and House of Illusions are two fantastic books. House of Illusions was a book I could hardly stand to put down. I can not wait for another Pauline Gedge book to be published.
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