Orphan Of The Sun
This story is set in the village of the tomb builders in the Valley of the Kings in Ancient Egypt, and centres on the daily lives of these skilled and privileged workers. Meryt-Re is an orphan, and at thirteen years old she is faced with family troubles, an arranged marriage she does not want, and the fear that the boy she does like may not feel the same about her. Around these personal concerns is woven a story of intrigue and theft which for the people of Set Maat is complicated by their belief in magic. Theirs was a world in which gods, deified pharaohs and ancestor spirits, wielded power over people’s lives, and in which spirits must be appeased and offerings made. Ordinary life could be a minefield, with danger at every turn.
It is always risky for a novelist to make ancient people talk in a modern way, but Gill Harvey has pulled it off brilliantly, and as a result the reader feels both the familiarity and the strangeness of their lives. They are like and yet utterly unlike us. She has clearly done a huge amount of research, most of it well integrated into the story. Not only do we learn about the cooking and domestic arrangements, but also about the subtle nuances of status and social class, which are particularly well conveyed.
Well-paced, with a straightforward writing style and an appealing heroine, this is a story that paints a lively and accessible picture of everyday life as it might really have been lived in ancient Egypt.