Khamsin: The Devil Wind of the Nile

Written by Inge H. Borg
Review by Steve Donoghue

Borg’s exceptional novel Khamsin takes its name from the “devil wind” that ravages ancient Egypt for fifty days during the reign of King Aha, the second ruler of the First Dynasty (roughly 3080 B.C.). The Egypt of this setting is primordial even by Egyptian standards: this is a time before the Great Pyramids were built, and before the Sphinx. But even in such an exotic setting, Borg adeptly demonstrates that some human passions never change – her cast of characters is vast, but at the heart of the story are two men vying for power in ancient Memphis: Ramose, the high priest of Ptah, and Ebu al-Saqqara, the plotting vizier. As the freak windstorm continues to rage, its turbulence is mirrored in the intrigues and battle scenes, the plight of queens and princesses, and the hopes of dozens of lesser (but still fully realized) characters. Borg’s narrative structure is as supple as it is strong; this is a big book in every way (except in your luggage: it’s a well-designed e-book), sprawling, ambitious, and marvelously executed. It’s enthusiastically recommended.

** Shortlisted for the 2014 HNS Indie Award **