Valley of the Kings: The 18th Dynasty

Written by Terrance Coffey
Review by Steve Donoghue

The familiar story, a frequent favorite of historical novelists, is the story at the heart of Terrance Coffey’s ambitious debut novel Valley of the Kings: the life and rise in 1400 BC of the young pharaoh Amenhotep IV, whose father’s unexpected death propels him to the rule of ancient Egypt at a very young age. When the young prince comes to power, he finds himself confronting the immense power of the professional priesthood, and he shatters that power by establishing a new faith, in the sun-god Aten, and taking a new identity for himself, as the “renegade” pharaoh Akenaten. Coffey fleshes out this story, creating compelling portraits not only of Akenaten himself but of his imperious mother Queen Ty and his beautiful, capable wife Nefertiti—and also of ancient Egypt itself, which comes alive in all its seasons and moods and peoples. The daring and odd conviction of Akenaten feels here folded into the personality of a three-dimensional character; even readers already well familiar with the story will find themselves fascinated all over again. Recommended.