A Path of Shadows

Written by Lauren Haney
Review by Nina de Angeli

Traveling far from their usual Nile River haunts, Egyptian frontier officer Lt. Bak and his loyal Medjay (Nubian) police must cross a vast barren desert and then sail the Eastern (Red) Sea to Queen Hatshepsut’s fabled turquoise mines. In this, his eighth adventure, Bak wades into danger tracking down a missing explorer, the shadowy but well-connected Minnakht, last seen at the mining seaport.
Watching their backs after finding a stranger stabbed at the first oasis, Bak and his desert caravan of soldiers, city merchants, and nomad guides suffer attacks from nature and man along the way. Boulders roll down steep hillsides. A flash flood in a desert wadi threatens to sweep away the travelers and their donkeys. Poisonous vipers lie in wait under the burning sands. Human enemies shadow the caravan’s tortuous path as nomad tribes watch from the hills and stalk the strangers in their midst.
Haney’s evocation of the rocky desert landscape brings out its varied geology and harsh beauty. Meticulous research transports the reader to 15th century BCE Egypt, to the edges of a vast empire loosely ruled by faraway pharaohs. Haney, one of the few authors in this field commended for accuracy by the Egyptology magazine KMT, includes lists of principal Egyptian deities and fictional characters, and a map of Bak’s travels.