The Wadjet Eye


A historical novel set in 45 B.C. Damon's medical training under the Pharaoh's own physician didn't prepare him for his mother's last illness—or for the adventure that follows. Damon must travel from Alexandria all the way to Spain, where his father is fighting in Caesar's army, to deliver the news of his mother's death to the father he hardly knows. Soon the quiet, studious Damon and his best friend, the soldierly Artemas, are caught up in danger and intrigue—from shipwreck and shark attack to the political ...

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The Wadjet Eye

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A historical novel set in 45 B.C. Damon's medical training under the Pharaoh's own physician didn't prepare him for his mother's last illness—or for the adventure that follows. Damon must travel from Alexandria all the way to Spain, where his father is fighting in Caesar's army, to deliver the news of his mother's death to the father he hardly knows. Soon the quiet, studious Damon and his best friend, the soldierly Artemas, are caught up in danger and intrigue—from shipwreck and shark attack to the political maneuverings of Cleopatra, Cicero, and Caesar. Fast-paced and suspenseful, this compelling historical novel combines page-turning excitement with a well-researched portrait of the ancient world.

After his mother dies, Damon, a young medical student living in Alexandria, Egypt, in 45 B.C., makes a perilous journey to Spain to locate his father who is serving in the Roman army led by Julius Caesar.

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Editorial Reviews

To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, May 2000: Damon is a young medical student living in Alexandria in 45 B.C. When his mother dies, he sets off with his good friend Artemas, a would-be soldier, on a dangerous journey to the battlefields of Spain to tell his father the news. On the way their ship is caught in a whirlpool, and they escape on a raft just in time, narrowly avoiding shark attacks (this scene is depicted in the exciting illustration on the cover). They are rescued by Cleopatra's ship, and meet the pharaoh herself, who brings them to Rome. In repayment, they agree to find out for her what the tricky orator Cicero is up to, to help her convince Caesar that he poses a threat, and they find out for themselves that he is untrustworthy. While in Rome, they also attend the Circus Maximus and are shocked and sickened by its brutality. Cleopatra gives the young men an amulet, the Wadjet Eye of the title, to protect them, and provides them with horses for their trip. Damon and his father meet up at last in a hospital tent near the bloody battlefields at Munda, where the father has been fighting as a centurion with Caesar's army. Artemas gets to meet his hero Caesar, and is thrilled to be invited to stay on with him and fight, but Damon and his father, happily reunited after many years apart, make plans to return home to Alexandria. Full of action and adventure, this brief novel is a quick and entertaining read. The author has clearly done her research; there is a glossary as well as a lengthy author's note at the end discussing various aspects of life in the ancient Mediterranean, from medicine to warfare to Cleopatra's famed facility with languages. The contrastingcharacters of Damon and Artemas, each courageous in his own way, add to the interest. A good choice for those who enjoy historical fiction or for classes studying ancient history. KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 2000, Houghton Mifflin, Clarion, 156p. bibliog., $5.95.. Ages 12 to 15.
—Paula Rohrlick
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
With a quick-moving plot and slight characterization, this historical adventure story moves right along through several settings in 45 B.C. In the opening chapter, Damon, a young medical student living in Alexandria, Egypt, embalms his own mother who may have died from the plague and will not be touched by the officials. Then, he and his best friend, a great admirer of Julius Caesar, set off to find Damon's Roman soldier father who is posted in Spain. En route, a dishonest captain and his ship are sunk in a Mediterranean vortex, the boys lose a friend to shark attack but are picked up by Cleopatra's ship and finally deposited in Rome where they meet Caesar's enemy Cicero, and finally make their way to Caesar and a battlefield reunion in Spain with Damon's father. The wadjet eye refers to an amulet depicting the Eye of Horus which Cleopatra gives the boys for their protection on the journey. This adventure story is not for the queasy as it features three authentic but nonetheless gruesome events in the Circus Maximus which the well-bred Egyptians witness with horror, bloody battlefield hospital scenes, and the opening embalming scene. The author has done her homework and the information is worked into the story as well as elaborated upon in a seven-section author's note. In addition, short cliff-hanging chapters and a story length of 130 pages makes this a lively source for middle school readers studying the period. An extensive glossary is also included. 2000, Clarion, Ages 10 to 14, $15.00. Reviewer: Susan Hepler—Children's Literature
Cleopatra, Cicero, Caesarseventeenyear-old Damon meets them all as he journeys from Egypt to Rome and Spain with his friend, Artemas, in search of his father, an officer in Caesar's army, to tell him of Damon's mother's death. Damon has not seen his father for six years, and he is angry with the man who never visited while his mother lay dying. It comes as no surprise that Damon accepts his father in the end. Violence and graphic description rush through the book. Damon, a medical student, must embalm his own mother's body, scooping out her intestines and removing her brain through her nostrils. Later Damon and Artemas are stranded at sea, attacked by sharks, and rescued by Cleopatra. In Rome, they watch gladiators kill each other, and a girl is gored to death by a rhinoceros as the crowds cheer. The book ends in an army field hospital where Damon helps a surgeon amputate limbs and stitch wounds. Although the subject matter seems more appropriate for an older audience, the book's simple style is aimed at middle school readers. The glossary, author's note, and bibliography promised in the galley might help ease some of the confusion caused by the welter of information, especially concerning places and languagesEgyptian, Greek, Latin, and Nubian among thempressed fleetingly upon the reader. The breathless pace of the novel prevents characters from being fully developed. Readers already fascinated by ancient Egypt and Rome may be drawn to the novel, but others will have to be pushed toward it. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2000, Clarion, Ages 12 to 14, 128p,$15.Reviewer: Rebecca Barnhouse
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-A story set in Alexandria, Egypt, in 45 B.C. Damon's mother has just died, and because the priests believe she had the plague, they refuse to touch her. It is then up to Damon, who studied at the medical school, to embalm her. After his friend Artemas convinces him that he must deliver the news of his mother's death to his Roman-soldier father, who is off fighting with Caesar, the two young men set off for the battlefields of Spain. They set sail on a merchant ship that sinks in a vortex, jump ship just in time, suffer extreme hardships, and are rescued by Cleopatra. She persuades them to spy for her in return for safe passage to Spain, and Damon is eventually reunited with his long-lost father. There are many references to Egyptian gods, architecture, and daily life that leave readers needing some background to understand the context. While the story is slow to get going, the action picks up quickly after the teens are attacked by sharks. There are several gruesome scenes that may appeal to certain readers, including a detailed depiction of the embalming process, a gory day at the Circus Maximus, and the medical tent on the battlefield. While the plot coincidences are entirely too perfect, the story does work as an action adventure for reluctant readers, and there is enough historical minutiae to encourage further reading.-Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Aloha, OR Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
From the Publisher
"Try this with boys who don't think they like historical fiction." Booklist, ALA

" action adventure for reluctant readers, and there is enough historical minutiae to encourage further reading." School Library Journal

"This is a short, action-packed adventure that will find a comfortable spot on the historical fiction shelf." The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"A good introduction to the period." Children's Book Review Service

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618689279
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/12/2006
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: 650L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Rubalcaba, author of A PLACE IN THE SUN, UNCEGILA'S SEVENTH SPOT, and ST. VITUS' DANCE, lives in Haddam, Connecticut.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2013


    Hey whats up i havent read the book yet so i wont be much help........ bye!!!

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