The Feather of Ma’at
Mauborgne’s story is set in the Alexandria of the 3rd century BC in a tangle of intrigue. Young and exceedingly strong-willed Arsinoe, sister of King Ptolemy, has returned to the city from exile and immediately sets about scheming to regain lost power (and to eliminate the main obstacle to that power, Ptolemy’s wife). The plot thickens when the ambassador from far-distant India arrives in Alexandria just as Ptolemy’s son is found dead of unknown causes, and Mauborgne keeps the whole complicated business bubbling and fizzing along in an absolutely irresistible read (the strength of the narrative even compensates for the little oddities of the book’s physical layout, such as inconsistent left-justified lines and the lack of spaces between paragraphs, items that really should be corrected in future printings). Maubourgne has chosen to have her characters speak in contemporary English (“Hogwash!” Arsinoe blurts at one point), but her careful research is evident on every page. Best of all, the book takes place centuries before you-know-who will show up, beguile Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, and hog the limelight. Highly recommended.