Pharaoh continues Wilbur Smith’s Ancient Egypt series

M.K. TOD

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Wilbur Smith is a prolific writer, an octogenarian first published in 1964, whose stories have thrilled and entertained millions around the globe. Collectively he has thirty-eight books to his credit including The Courtney series, Ancient Egypt series, Ballantyne series and numerous action thrillers. Some are set in South Africa, others in the former British colony of Rhodesia, still others in ancient Egypt during the time of the great Pharaohs. Many are family sagas with heroic characters and storylines that continue from book to book.

In a 2013 interview with Laura Barnett of The Guardian, Smith reflected on his body of work: “I never set out to write literature; I set out to tell stories. And some of my work may be very raunchy and very bloodthirsty – but life, for me, is a violent thing.”

Life for Taita, the hero of Pharaoh, Wilbur Smith’s latest novel, is also a violent thing. Taita, a complex character and former slave who, with the help of the fountain of youth, has lived more than one hundred and fifty years, is the hero of Desert God and River God and now the hero of Pharaoh. Like Jack Bauer in the TV series 24, the fate of the world rests in Taita’s hands while evil lurks at every turn.

Pharaoh is the sixth novel in Smith’s Ancient Egypt series, preceded by River God, The Seventh Scroll, Warlock, The Quest, and Desert God. While each stands alone, collectively they immerse the reader in the great sweep of time when Egyptian rulers—and there were many of them—reigned over vast swaths of land, frequently under threat of invasion and equally frequently, conquering new territories.

wilbur-smith-ap1-1Blending fictional characters with real and fictional events, Smith immerses readers in time and place. During the course of the story, myth and the supernatural play a prominent role as Taita allies with the Lacedaemons (mythical) and consults the divine goddess Inana (supernatural) to defeat Utteric Turo and secure the throne for Rameses.

Epic battles, dangerous sea voyages, superhuman feats of daring, political maneuvering, cunning, and intrigue create a story of high stakes drama. Taita narrates in a clear if sometimes pompous style, weaving in backstory, history, geography, and historical detail with ease.

In a 2014 interview with Jake Kerridge of The Telegraph, Smith admits to identifying with his main character. “I think that Taita is like me,” he replies, referring to the hero of his latest novel. “He doesn’t admit failure … Even if he has failed.”

Beyond Taita are other larger-than-life characters: Rameses son of Pharaoh Tamose (Warlock), Princess Serrena, daughter of Tehuti and King Hurotas (Zaras in Desert God), Tehuti and Bekatha (Desert God), Egyptian princesses who both love Taita and now live in Lacedaemon.

Smith’s stories excel at military detail, plot twists, and the world of privilege. They involve epic battles, grand characters, ruthless intrigue, and the struggle between good and evil. Pharaoh is no exception.

 

About the contributor: M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, Time and Regret, was published by Lake Union in August 2016. Mary’s other novels, Lies Told in Silence and Unravelled are available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads or on her website.

 

Posted by Claire Morris

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