"Pleasantly reminiscent of Rick Riordan’s work.”--Publishers Weekly
Meet Tut! He used to rule Egypt. Now he's stuck in middle school.
Having defeated his evil uncle and the Cult of Set, who tried to send him to the afterlife, the perpetually fourteen-year-old King Tut is looking forward to a relaxing summer vacation. But then Tut discovers that his brother Gilgamesh has been captured by the Egyptian god Apep, Lord of Chaos. Gil helped to vanquish Apep thousands of years ago, and now Apep is back for vengeance.
It’s up to Tut and his friends, Tia and Henry, to find Gil and stop Apep before he succeeds in his scheme to swallow the sun and plunge the world into darkness forever...
Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World will appeal to fans of fast and funny mythological fantasy. Don’t miss Tut’s first epic adventure, Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life.
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Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World
By P. J. Hoover, Erik McKenney
Tom Doherty AssociatesCopyright © 2017 Patricia Jedrziewski Hoover
All rights reserved.
WHERE MY CAT CONSPIRES AGAINST ME
I could outrun anything. Messenger bikes. Angry hippopotamuses. Cheetahs. Okay, I'd never actually outrun a cheetah, but I was sure, given the chance, I could. I was the Great Pharaoh Tutankhamun, after all. King Tut. Plus I was immortal. Except in this weird nightmare I was having, whatever was chasing me was gaining on me, and I couldn't seem to pull on any of my immortal powers no matter how hard I tried. It wasn't going to end well.
Just before my imminent doom, I woke up covered in sweat to the sound of someone pounding on the door of my townhouse, and a renewed sense of dread filled me. Something besides the nightmare was right at the edge of my mind. I knew when I remembered it, I wasn't going to be happy.
I stumbled downstairs, right as the shabtis were letting in my best friend, Henry. His messy blond hair looked like he'd passed through a hurricane on the way here, and his mouth was filled with a huge bite of bagel and cream cheese. He finished chewing and then uttered the four dreaded words that restored my memory.
"Time for science camp."
Things that an immortal fourteen-year-old pharaoh living in Washington, D.C., might do over summer break? Stay out late. Try out every food truck on Pennsylvania Avenue. Swim in the Reflecting Pool. Science camp was not on the list.
"I'm not going to camp," I said, rubbing my eyes to clear my head from the nightmare. It had felt so real.
"But you promised." Henry took another bite of the bagel. Pure disbelief covered his face as he chewed. Not that I had any clue how he could be surprised. The last thing I intended to do over summer break was go learn about a bunch of science stuff I already knew. Why anyone would willingly spend two weeks of summer vacation in camp was beyond me.
"I never promised," I said, trying to remember my exact words.
"You did, back in January," Henry said. "You said that it was the least you could do after your crazy uncle tried to kill me."
Ugh. He was right. My uncle had tried and nearly succeeded. If the god Osiris hadn't intervened and transferred all the energy from my scarab heart into Henry to heal him, Henry would have died. But afterward, I'd been caught in a moment of weakness. I'd been feeling sentimental. After all, I'd been willing to give up my immortality to save Henry. It was without a doubt the most unselfish thing I'd ever done.
But now science camp wasn't sounding like such a fun bonding experience. Images of boring classrooms and songs about the periodic table filled my mind.
"Hmmm ..." I said.
"You were sitting on the futon when you said it," Henry said, like that would help refresh my memory.
"I always sit on the futon." I plopped down on it for effect. It was the only real seat in my family room besides Gil's chair, which was faded and covered in patches and was so old it had probably been made during the time of the dinosaurs. Gil was my older brother — or at least he pretended to be. His chair had been empty for the last six months, ever since he went away. The leader of my shabtis, Colonel Cody, asked if we could rid the apartment of it on a daily basis.
"That's beside the point," Henry said, eyeing Gil's chair and then opting to sit on the faded green camel seat instead. I hadn't sat in Gil's chair either. I kept waiting for him to come back. And if Gil sauntered in the door and someone had their butt in his chair — or worse, if his chair wasn't here — he'd be out for revenge. I wanted Gil back, but I didn't want him to put shaving cream in my pillowcase once he got here.
Two of my shabtis, Lieutenants Virgil and Leon, ran over with a huge glass of orange juice and a plate of scones. Now this, to me, was the perfect way to start the morning. Science camp was not.
I should explain about the shabtis. They were these six-inch-tall hand-painted clay figures that had been placed in my tomb to wait on me in the afterlife — 365 of them, to be exact. But unlike me, who'd never actually been placed in the tomb, they'd been stuck in there until 1922. Then when my tomb had been opened, they'd found me here in D.C. Ever since, they've been my eternal servants. I know it sounds kind of weird, like I have pint-size clay butlers waiting on me hand and foot, but they'd been bound to me from the moment they were created. The spells written on them made it that way. Also, it made them really happy.
Horus sat silently on the top of his cat scratching post, swatting his tail back and forth, watching scarab beetles scurry across the room. He'd softened a bit toward Henry in the last six months, but he still kept his distance. I think he never got over the fact that Henry had almost chopped his tail off with a sword.
"Then what is the point?" I said. I grabbed my spiral notebook from the coffee table in front of me and flipped through it. In the last six months, I'd listed out every place in D.C. that I'd searched for Gil and also all the places I still planned to go. I was getting way closer to the end of the list than I wanted to be.
Henry grabbed a scone from the plate and started picking little pieces off it. It looked like blueberry today. That or maybe rhubarb. Lieutenant Virgil made a different flavor every day. It was a new thing he'd been trying, part of his effort to serve food befitting a pharaoh while still staying up with the times. Scones were great and all, but I was hoping he'd go through a doughnut stage soon.
"The point is that you promised you'd go. I asked, and you said, 'Yes,' and if that's not a promise, then I'm not sure what is."
It wasn't exactly how I remembered the conversation.
"I said maybe."
"You said yes."
"Henry's right," Horus said, finally deciding to enter the conversation. "And if you two don't stop bickering about it, someone's going to get eviscerated."
Coming from Horus, that wasn't an idle threat. Horus was a god, and things like evisceration were nothing unusual with the gods. Also, seeing as how I'd known Horus forever, I figured Henry was the one in danger. Horus would never eviscerate me. I think.
"See? Even Horus agrees," Henry said, edging away.
"Horus just wants you to stop complaining. Right, Horus?"
Horus jumped down from the top of his scratching post and onto the coffee table in front of me.
Yes, Horus was a cat, in addition to being a god. A talking cat. It was a god thing. And when he wasn't a cat, he was a falcon. It was a little confusing, but those were the basics.
He narrowed his one good eye at me. The other had been scratched out in an epic family disagreement. Losing an eye might seem horrible, but Horus definitely came out ahead in that fight.
"What I want is for you to do something besides look for Gil," Horus said. "You haven't done anything else since school let out, Tutankhamun."
This is probably a good time to address that Tutankhamun thing. Yes, I was King Tut, Ruler of Upper and Lower Egypt. At least I was before my uncle, the worst relative anyone in the world could have, yanked me from the throne and tried to kill me. Thankfully, the gods smiled on me and made me immortal. Pretty cool, right? Except they'd made Uncle Horemheb immortal, too, which wasn't quite so cool. It took a long time, over three thousand years, but I was happy to report that Uncle Horemheb was no longer a problem in my life. He'd been cast into the underworld. Devoured by the crocodile goddess, Ammut. She probably had indigestion.
Me? I was still immortal. I got to live forever. I could never die. What wasn't quite so lucky was that I was stuck at fourteen. I used to rule Egypt. Now I was never going to get out of middle school.
"That's because I intend to find Gil," I said, holding up my notebook and flipping open the pages. They were filled with everything I could remember about Gil.
Yes, that Gil, as in Gilgamesh, former Sumerian king, who also happened to be immortal. Or at least he used to be. But I'll get to that. The thing was that Gil and I had been living together, roaming the earth, for thousands of years. He'd been the older brother I'd never really had the chance to have. And then he'd just up and left, leaving me no clue about where he'd gone.
I'd been mad at first. Okay, furious. I deserved more than that. I at least deserved a goodbye. But then I started getting worried. Because — and here's where we get into the immortal thing — Gil used to be an immortal, just like me. But then that whole mess with my uncle happened, and Henry was dying. I wasn't going to let that happen. I had to do something. That's when, with Osiris's help, I transferred all my immortal energy to Henry to heal him. My scarab heart drained, and it left me ... mortal, just like everyone else in the world. And that was fine. I was prepared to grow old and die.
But I guess Gil wasn't quite so prepared for me to die, because without even asking, he'd shoved his scarab heart inside me, making me immortal once again, and dooming himself to mortality. And then he'd just taken off, without even saying goodbye. After three thousand years together, that was not cool at all. I was going to find him and ... well, I wasn't sure what I'd do then. I'd figure that out when the time came.
Oh, and as to whether Henry was now immortal or not, since he got pumped full of all that scarab heart energy ... that was still up for debate.
"You're obsessing about Gil," Horus said. "You need to do something else, because you're driving me crazy, and you're not making any progress."
"That's not true." I tried to find something in the notebook that would prove him wrong. It was filled with lots of stories of me and Gil facing perils of extreme danger during heroic adventures. Or at least that's how they sounded when I wrote them down. I'd been revisiting all those places, searching for him. But my list of places here in D.C. was almost done. I planned to continue my search overseas next, where ancient Babylon used to be. One of my shabtis, Captain Otto, was working on my passport.
"Then what have you found?" Horus asked, sitting on his haunches and flicking his tail back and forth. "Tell me one thing that's given you any clue as to where Gil is."
I stared at Horus. I tried not to blink. From the camel seat, Henry sat silent, picking at his scone. Even he knew that interrupting Horus wasn't a great idea. But my efforts at a staring contest against Horus were more futile than hunting Bigfoot.
I blinked and looked away. "Fine. You're right. I haven't found him yet. But you know, it would be nice if someone else helped me."
I said it way more sarcastically than I probably had to, but Horus was a god. It seemed like finding an eighteen-year-old formerly immortal ancient Sumerian king should be simple for him.
"I am helping," Horus said.
"I have feelers out."
"What kind of feelers?"
"Just feelers," Horus said. "Now go to camp with Henry. You need a change of pace. And it's only for a couple weeks."
I turned to Henry. He grinned at me like he'd just beaten me in a game of Tetris. With both him and Horus after me, there was no getting out of it.
"Just today," I said. "I am not committing to the entire time."
"Perfect," Henry said, standing up. "We are going to learn so many cool things."
That, I highly doubted.
I glanced around the townhouse. There were no less than fifteen shabtis scurrying around, cleaning the place, but their leader was nowhere to be found.
"Where's Colonel Cody?" I asked a purple shabti named Lieutenant Roy. The shabtis came in all sorts of colors. It had something to do with their ranks and specialties.
Lieutenant Roy stood on the bookshelf directing the cleaning efforts. It's what he did best.
"I believe he had an errand to run, Great Master," the purple shabti said. He snapped his fingers and pointed to the shabtis scooping up the scarab beetle shells that decorated the wooden floor of my townhouse. Horus ate the insides, but refused to clean up after himself.
"What errand?" I asked.
Lieutenant Roy crossed his arms over his chest and bowed. "Great Master, he didn't tell me."
"When's he going to be back?"
"Great Master, he didn't tell me."
Colonel Cody had been running lots of errands lately. I'd tried to figure out what he was up to, but he'd managed to keep it from me so far.
"When he gets back, tell him not to leave again. I need to talk to him." I'd tasked Colonel Cody with helping me find Gil.
The shabtis and Gil kind of had a love-hate relationship. They thought Gil was a heathen since he didn't worship the Egyptian gods. Gil got annoyed when they wouldn't do simple things for him, like wash his dirty socks and underwear. But I think the real reason the shabtis didn't like him so much is because Gil didn't, in their opinion, show me, the former ruler of Egypt, the proper respect. Respect or not, I wanted Gil back, and the shabtis would help me.
"Very good, Great Master," Lieutenant Roy said.
I looked to Horus one last time. But he was staring out the window, lost in whatever kitty-god thoughts ran through his head. And then he jumped out the window onto the fire escape, with no explanation of where he was going. So I changed out of my pajamas, and Henry and I set off for science camp.CHAPTER 2
WHERE I GO TO SUMMER CAMP
Science camp was at the zoo. We walked to Woodley Park because it was way faster than taking the Metro. Henry, unlike me, had dressed for the occasion. He wore a bright blue T-shirt with in yellow lettering. He caught me staring at it.
"Do you get it?" Henry said, pointing to the letters. "Oxygen. Magnesium. OMG."
Even though I didn't want to spend my day at science camp, that didn't mean I wasn't smart. I could recite the periodic table backward if required. Not that it had ever been required for anything in life. For that matter, neither had been reciting it forward. It was just one of those random skills I'd developed over the course of my immortal life. Scientists kept changing it, adding more elements. I hoped that one of these days they'd name one after me. Tutankhamunium. It had a great ring to it.
"I get it," I said.
"I could order you one," Henry said. "Two-day delivery. It would be here by Wednesday. We could wear them on the same day."
I liked Henry — he was my best friend — but I had no plans to be all twinsies with him.
"No, that's okay," I said. "Then it wouldn't be as special."
"I wouldn't mind," Henry said. "Maybe for your birthday."
"Maybe," I said. My birthday wasn't for another month. Camp would be way over. Not that I'd technically be older on my birthday, but it was still nice to celebrate. Every year Gil got me some stupid gag gift and we went out for pizza. I had no intention of letting that tradition die. I had to find him.
Henry then proceeded to start reciting random animal facts.
"Did you know that an octopus has three hearts?" Henry said.
Amid all the knowledge I'd gained in the last three thousand years, octopus anatomy was not part of it.
"Not eight?" I asked. I could see the logic in eight: the same number of hearts as tentacles.
"No, Tut, not eight."
"Sounds like somebody didn't think that all the way through," I said.
"Well, it does have nine brains, but only three hearts. There's one for each of the gills, and one for the body."
"Huh. Do all fish have three hearts?"
"Just all cephalopods," Henry said. "Do you know what a cephalopod is?"
"Yeah, I know," I said quickly, because one, I did know, and two, I didn't want Henry to tell me any more about them.
We were just outside the zoo now. A giant mural of a snake covered the wall. I'd never noticed it before, but it could have been new. Fancy murals were going up all over the district. Last I heard, there'd even been talk of painting one on the Air and Space Museum.
"Okay, did you know that snakes don't blink?" Henry said, pointing at the mural.
Snakes were a little more common that octopi. "Yeah, that I knew." I also knew that snakes smelled with their tongues.
"Don't you think that would be super-uncomfortable?" Henry said, blinking for effect. "I mean, let's say you get a piece of dust in your eye. How are you going to get it out if you can't blink? It's not like snakes have hands or arms. They can't just wipe it out."
"I never really gave it much thought," I said.
"You should study animals more," Henry said. "I've been researching them since school let out."
Henry had been researching way more than animals this past month. He challenged me daily with odd science facts and quizzed me on obscure vocabulary words like "phrontistery" and "podobromhydrosis."
"Okay, one more," Henry said. "Did you know there's this weird jellyfish that's basically immortal?"
I laughed. "Yeah, whatever."
"No, it's true, Tut," Henry said. "Its cells can revert back to their original form moments after being injured. And if we look at the principles in this immortality versus scarab hearts —"
I put up my hand to stop him. "Enough." Immortal jellyfish were nothing like scarab hearts. I was willing to bet that the jellyfish would die if someone accidentally put it in a blender, immortal or not.
Excerpted from Tut: My Epic Battle to Save the World by P. J. Hoover, Erik McKenney. Copyright © 2017 Patricia Jedrziewski Hoover. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1. Where My Cat Conspires Against Me,
2. Where I Go to Summer Camp,
3. Where I Play with Fire,
4. Where the Shabtis Try to Burn Me Alive,
5. Where the Gods Vandalized D.C.,
6. Where Gil Sends a Message,
7. Where We Hack into Google Maps,
8. Where Henry Loses at Scrabble,
9. Where We Meet the Worst Bouncers in the Universe,
10. Where We Spin Vinyl with a Sumerian God,
11. Where Horus Tries to Kill Me,
12. Where I Train a Monster,
13. Where the Funhouse Isn't so Fun,
14. Where We Go Grave-Robbing with a Baboon,
15. Where I Get My Worst Future Predicted at the House of the Dead,
16. Where I Almost Go for a Swim,
17. Where My Dog Gets a Bath,
18. Where I Visit the Mother of All Plants,
19. Where I Learn More Than I Ever Wanted to About White House China,
20. Where Henry Makes a Trip to the Hospital,
21. Where I Make a Solemn Vow in Exchange for Cookies,
22. Where I Pick the Perfect Dish,
23. Where I Make a Wager About the Fate of the World,
24. Where My Dog Finishes Up My Dinner,
25. Where I Fail in the Most Epic Way Possible,
26. Where Snack Time Saves the World,
27. Where the Fate of the World Comes in the Form of a Word,
28. Where We Watch the Most Epic Fireworks in History,
King Tut's Most Excellent Guide to All Things Shabti,
Senet for Dummies,
Caring for Your Sumerian Monster,
Tut: Pick Your Own Quest Game,
Also by P. J. Hoover,
About the Author,