The King’s Man

Written by Pauline Gedge
Review by Nicky Galliers

With The King’s Man, Pauline Gedge concludes her trilogy begun in The Twice Born and Seer of Egypt about enigmatic Huy, son of Hapu, who became one of ancient Egypt’s most respected and influential figures. In this final chapter, Huy is now revered for guiding the impulsive young king Amunhotep III, together with the king’s mother, Queen Mutemwia. But privately Huy struggles with both his fame at court and his addiction to opium, the only relief for the blinding headaches that accompany his prophetic visions. After having been enslaved all his life to the gods’ capricious will, sacrificing his own capacity for erotic intimacy in exchange for knowledge, power, and longevity, Huy now faces the gradual erosion of the life he has built, as old friends succumb to mortality and the past becomes more alluring than the present. But he has a final mission to accomplish after he experiences a terrifying vision of a future when apostasy reigns – a vision that sets him on a quest to rectify his own mistakes as well as discover the last tantalizing fragment of the Book of Thoth.

Fans of Pauline Gedge’s astonishing re-creations of a world both intensely foreign yet also immediately familiar will find much to enjoy in this novel; her peerless evocation of Egypt’s splendor is on ample display, as is her capacity to transform mere hieroglyphs on crumpling pillars into flesh-and-blood beings. Those who have read her magnificent The Twelfth Transforming will especially thrill to her portrayal of young Tiye’s evolution from fledgling royal bride to vigorous queen. However, readers are strongly advised to delve into the first two books in the trilogy before this one; while The King’s Man can stand on its own, to be properly savored, the complex plotlines of Huy’s story should be read in order.