Nefer the Silent (Stone of Light Series #1)

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Overview

They built a civilization ahead of its time, and dominated the ancient world.

They defined an era of war, love, passion, power, and betrayal.

They were a people of mystery whose secrets have turned to dust -- but who inspire our awe and wonder even to this day....

The ancient Egyptians
They showed us how to...

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Overview

They built a civilization ahead of its time, and dominated the ancient world.

They defined an era of war, love, passion, power, and betrayal.

They were a people of mystery whose secrets have turned to dust -- but who inspire our awe and wonder even to this day....

The ancient Egyptians
They showed us how to live. And how to die.

Christian Jacq, author of the international triumph Ramses, brings the people and the passions of ancient Egypt to life in an enthralling epic novel in four volumes.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743403467
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Series: Stone of Light Series , #1
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 987,294
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Christian Jacq is the author of the bestselling four-volume Ramses series, which sold eleven million copies in twenty-nine countries. He has a doctorate in Egyptian studies from the Sorbonne in France. He founded, and now heads, the Ramses Institute, which is dedicated to preserving the endangered archaeological sites of Egypt.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Life was so monotonous. Plowing immediately after the annual Nile flood, sowing, reaping, and harvesting, stocking up the granaries, watching out for locusts, rodents, and hippos that might lay waste the fields. Then there was irrigation, looking after your tools, plaiting ropes at night instead of sleeping, watching over the flocks and the teams, not to mention forever worrying about your piece of land and never thinking of anything beyond the quality of the wheat and the state of your cows' health....Yes, it was utterly monotonous, and Ardent could stand it no longer.

The young man was sitting under a sycamore tree, where the fields met the desert. It offered him plenty of shade, but he was unable to get off to sleep and enjoy a well-deserved rest before heading to the family pastures to tend the oxen. At sixteen, Ardent was over three and a half cubits tall and built like a giant; and he had no desire to settle for the life of a peasant, as his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had done.

Just as he did every day, he had come to this quiet spot, and, using a little piece of wood he had whittled, he had drawn animals in the sand. Drawing. He would have loved to draw for hours on end, then add color and re-create a donkey, a dog, and a thousand other creatures.

Ardent had great powers of observation. What he saw entered his heart, which then gave orders to his hand — though his hand was completely free to trace the contours of an image that seemed more alive than everyday reality. What he really needed were papyrus, styli, some pigments. But his father was a farmer and had laughed in his face when the boy told him what he wanted.

There was only one place where Ardent could find everything he desired: the Place of Truth. Nobody knew what went on inside the walled village, but those walls enclosed the greatest painters and artists in the kingdom, the men who were authorized to decorate Pharaoh's tomb.

A peasant's son had no chance of entering that fabled brotherhood. Yet the young man could not help dreaming of the happiness of those who could devote themselves wholly to their vocation, forgetting the meanness of daily life.

"Well, Ardent, having a rest, are we?"

The voice, heavy with irony, belonged to a boy of about twenty named Hayseed. He was tall and muscular, and dressed only in a short kilt of plaited rushes. By his side stood his younger brother, Fat-Legs, a stupid smile on his face. At fifteeen, Fat-Legs was much heavier than Hayseed, because of all the cakes he gobbled every day.

"Leave me alone, you two," said Ardent.

"This place doesn't belong to you," said Hayseed. "We've a right to come here."

"I don't want to see you."

"Ah, but we want to see you. And you've got some explaining to do."

"What about?"

"As if you didn't know!" said Hayseed. "Where were you last night?"

"Who do you think you are, a policeman?"

"Does the name Nati mean anything to you?" demanded Hayseed.

Ardent smiled. "It certainly does."

Hayseed took a step toward him. "You filthy swine! She's betrothed to me, and last night, you...you dared — "

"It wasn't my idea. Nati came looking for me."

"You're lying!"

Ardent got to his feet. "I don't let anyone call me a liar."

"Because of you, my bride won't be a virgin."

"So what? If she has any sense, Nati won't marry you at all."

Hayseed and Fat-Legs produced a leather whip. Though it was only a rough weapon, it was a formidable one.

"Let's leave it there," suggested Ardent. "Nati and I spent a pleasant moment together, it's true, but that's just nature, isn't it? As a gesture of goodwill, I agree not to see her again — to be frank, I shan't miss her."

"We're going to spoil your looks," announced Hayseed. "With your new face, you won't be seducing any more girls."

"I'd quite enjoy correcting two imbeciles, but it's hot, and I'd rather finish my nap."

Raising his right arm, Fat-Legs threw himself at Ardent. Suddenly, his target disappeared from in front of him and he was lifted up and flung into the air; he fell back down again headfirst, and crumpled against the trunk of the sycamore, unconscious and unmoving.

Hayseed was rooted to the spot for a moment, then he reacted. He lashed the whip through the air, intending to slice Ardent's face open, but the young giant parried the blow with his arm. An ugly cracking noise put an end to the short struggle. Hayseed dropped the whip and fled, howling with the pain of a dislocated shoulder.

There was not one drop of sweat on Ardent's brow. Since the age of five he had been used to fighting, and he had taken some real drubbings before learning the winning moves. He never provoked a fight, but confident in his strength, he never walked away from one either. Life did not hand out gifts, and neither did he.

The thought of spending the afternoon in the pasture and then returning home like a good boy, bearing milk and firewood, made Ardent feel sick.

Tomorrow would be even worse than today, even duller, even more boring, and the young man would continue to lose heart, as if his blood were slowly draining away. What did his family's little farm mean to him? His father dreamt of ripe corn and milch cows, the neighbors envied him his success, the girls already saw Ardent as his father's lucky heir who, thanks to his great strength, would double production and become rich. They dreamt of marrying a wealthy peasant and having lots of children, thus ensuring a happy old age.

Thousands were content with that destiny, but not Ardent. On the contrary, to him it seemed more oppressive than the walls of a prison. Abandoning the cattle, which would be perfectly all right without him, the young man set off into the desert, his gaze fixed on the Peak of the West. It loomed over Thebes, the fantastically rich city of the god Amon, where the sacred precinct of Karnak had been built to house numerous temples.

On the west bank were the Valleys of the Kings, Queens, and Nobles, which had welcomed the tombs of these illustrious people, and also the pharaohs' Houses of Eternity, including the Temple of a Million Years built by Ramses. The craftsmen of the Place of Truth had created wonders — people said they had worked hand in hand with the gods, and under their protection.

In the secret heart of Karnak, as in the humblest shrine, the gods and goddesses spoke, but who truly understood their message? As for Ardent, he deciphered the world by drawing in the sand, but he lacked the knowledge to progress further.

He could not accept this injustice. Why did the goddess hidden in the Peak of the West speak to the craftsmen of the Place of Truth yet remain silent when he begged her to answer his call? The sun-beaten mountain abandoned him to his loneliness, and his young, pleasure-hungry mistresses could never understand his aspirations.

As a kind of revenge, he drew the mountain in the sand as accurately as he could, then angrily kicked the drawing apart, as if through this one act he were wiping out both the silent goddess and his own frustration.

But the Peak of the West remained intact, imposing, and impenetrable. And, despite his physical power, Ardent felt laughably insignificant. No, things could not go on like this.

This time, his father must listen to him.

Copyright © 2000 by XO Editions. All Rights Reserved.

English translation copyright © 2000 by Sue Dyson

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2003

    Learned a lot about ancient Egypt

    Had no clue this book would be so gripping! Learned fascinating things about ancient Egyptian culture. Had never heard about so many things in Egyptian history. The characters are very well described and believable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2001

    wow

    i really loved this book, i usally dont go for these kinds of books but i am glade i did i recomend this book for anyone who is intrested in history

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2000

    The Place of Truth

    A surprise winner! First time reader of Egyptian story-lines, this was a very good book. Very easy reading and definative plot. Too bad the other volumes have yet to be released (but they will be, soon!)

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyable historical fiction

    In Ancient Egypt, the Place of Truth is a village located in an isolated, nearly impossible section to reach portion of the Upper Egyptian desert. Here live the master builders, stonecutters, sculptors, and painters working exclusively for Ramses the Great. Because these artisans compose the tombs of the Pharaohs, very few individuals are allowed entry into the isolated village. Even the soldiers guarding the village are Egypt¿s top guns. <P>The aristocratic Mehy once dreamed of joining the Brotherhood of this village, but in spite of his family background, was rejected. Hatred has grown deep in his heart to the point that he is willing to risk his rising military career as a talented charioteer to gain vengeance. His plan is simple. He would learn all the secrets of this proud elitist village. If plan a fails, he will destroy the village. He soon discovers the existence of a sacred stone, which leads to his murdering a Nubian guard and setting in motion a plot that could make Mehy¿s plan come to fruition. <P>Christian Jacq, author of the wonderful five-volume Ramses historical fiction series, starts his new collection with an enjoyable Ancient Egypt tale. The story line is entertaining and brings to the audience interesting tidbits on life in ancient times. The support cast augments the tale as the audience obtains glimpses into their roles and relationships. However, the villain never comes across as realistic, perhaps because his underlying motive is never fully explained, so that it seems too stretched to be acceptable. Still Mr. Jacq¿s latest epic novel (three volumes to follow) is another fabulous historical fiction work that paints a vivid panorama of life over thirty-five hundred years ago. <P>Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2000

    The Stone of Light: A Simplistic Look at Eygptian Society

    'The Stone of Light' is an easily read and enjoyable novel set in ancient Eygpt. The main protagonists, Ardent and Silent, are easy to identify with although Ardent at times proves larger than life and his feats unbelievable. The antagonist,Mehy,a power hungry military captain, is bent on destroy-ing the Place of Truth, a heavily guarded village of craftsmen dedicated to creating the decorated tombs for the Pharaohs. The motives and reasons for wanting to do away with this sacred village of artsians is unclear. Mehy, thus, becomes a cardboard villian rather than a real culprit.Much of the the novel is taken up with Mehy and his acomplices attempting to penetrate the wall of secrecy surrounding the Place of Truth without ever progressing. Furthermore, it is not made clear as to why this village of artisans is so shrouded in secrecy and so heavily guarded except that it contains a stone of light. All in all, it feels as though the plot and the religious and historical's deeper meanings are brushed over and in need of development to enable the reader to put the characters and their motives in proper perspective.

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