Origins: Song of the King’s Heart
205 BCE. Prince Ankhmakis is the second son of the last native Egyptian king. Natasa is training to be the High Priestess of Isis. Together they share a bond that could help Egypt reclaim their land from the Ptolemy overlords. But their bond is threatened by worshippers of the god Set. Will internal power plays ruin their chances of reclaiming Egypt?
Anderson introduces each chapter with a bit of historical context, which sets the tone well. Early on, characterization is strong. My favorite scene was visiting an archeology site. This chapter helped illustrate the time period as one looking to reclaim the past and future. Egyptian history is so rich that even ancient historical figures are making discoveries of an even more ancient history!
The second half is mostly “sex magic” with a little political plotting thrown in between erotic scenes. The treatment of women and their minimized roles feels very demeaning. They’re either princesses for producing heirs, sex priestesses, or healers who pledge themselves to Hathor and must remain celibate on pain of death, despite the fact Hathor is the patron god of women, the mistress of music, dance, and drunkenness whose sexual side was well-featured in Egyptian literature. One rather glaring inaccuracy is a character with a crystal skull on his shrine, reminding him that his most prized possession is his intellect. Egyptians didn’t believe thought came from the mind but from the heart. And a crystal skull… like the ones claimed to be pre-Columbian but were actually crafted in 19th-century Germany?
While there is evidence of research, I think a lot of it focused outside the historical context. The book starts well character-wise but is weighed down by inaccuracies, a narrow focus of women’s roles, and a second half with more emphasis on sex than plot movement.