If you are lucky as a writer, you come up with a character you cannot do without. In nineteen ninety-four the South African novelist Wilbur Smith (pictured above) created his best character, Taita, the highly talented eunuch, in the first of his epic tales about pharaonic Egypt, in his novel River God, an adventure set against a loosely historic background. We witness everything both good and bad through the eunuch’s eyes. The next book in the series was The Seventh Scroll, followed by Warlock, The Quest and Desert God.
After what seems like an eternity, Wilbur has just published Pharoah, which I began reading two nights ago. By now the dying Pharoah Tamose’ trusted adviser is not getting any younger. Like everything in his life, for Taita nothing is ever straightforward or indeed conducive to his continued good health.
EGYPT IS UNDER ATTACK.
Pharaoh Tamose lies mortally wounded. The ancient city of Luxor is surrounded, All seems lost.
Taita, advisor to the Pharaoh, prepares for the enemy’s final, fatal push. The ex-slave, now general of Tamose’s armies, is never more ingenious than when all hope is dashed. And this is Egypt’s most desperate hour.
With the timely arrival of an old ally, the tide is turned and the Egyptian army feasts upon its retreating foe. But upon his victorious return to Luxor, Taita is seized and branded a traitor. Tamose is dead and a poisonous new era has begun. The new Pharaoh has risen — and he must be stopped…
From the glittering temples of Luxor to the Citadel of Sparta, PHARAOH is an intense and powerful novel magnificently transporting you to a time of threat, blood and glory. Master storyteller, Wilbur Smith, is at the very peak of his powers.
Only one writer other than Wilbur has ever managed to bring pharaonic Egypt to life. He is the French novelist and archaeologist Christian Jacq, whose many works of fiction I have also read. I’ve loved all of the books in his Ramses series. Getting back to Pharoah, I can’t wait to see how Wilbur’s old friend Taita fares in this one. It’s all his fault that I immediately started reading Pharoah, temporarily putting paid to my good intentions to find my next story in my research library.
But in the end, I know it will be worth it…