Friday, 30 September 2011
Kim's Review : Ramses - The Battle of Kadesh
Halfway through reading The Son of the Light, I placed an order for the next 4 books in Christian Jacq's Ramses series. Ramses: The Battle of Kadesh is the Third book in this series.
This book begins with the complete annihilation of "The Abode of the Lion" - an Egyptian border village, by the Hittites who start pushing further inland, convince previous Egyptian allies Lebanon & Palestine to back them instead and harass the other Egyptian allies in Damascus & Phoenecia. The general peace loving Egyptian populace realises the inevitability of war with their neighbours and gear up their war machinery under the keen eye and confidence building measures of Ramses II.
Shaanar continues to scheme against Ramses with the help of Raia- a Syrian merchant of fine vases n Egypt, who is actually a spy for the Hittites, Ofir - a Libyan black magician and Ahsha the diplomat in charge of assessing the threats to Egypt. Shaanar tries to assist the Hittites under Muwatallis, hoping he can rule Egypt after Ramses defeat.
In a convoluted plot, Serramanna - Ramses personal chief bodyguard is accused of conspiracy and thrown into prison the eve before Ramses and the Egyptian army set off to fight the Hittites. It is left to Tuya, Nefertari & Ahmeni to govern in his absence. Ramses slowly retakes all the Egyptian protectorates that had rebelled and then, returns to Pi-Ramses instead of marching towards Kadesh on the advice of Ahsha.
Meanwhile in the Hittite capital of Hattusa, the cunning but aging Emperor Muwatallis has to maintain and control the power struggle between his son Uri-Teshup also Commander-in-chief & his own brother Hattusilis priest of the Sun Goddess, married to Putuhepa the influential daughter of the high priest. Uri Teshup controls the army and wants war while Hattusilis has the support of the priests and merchants and is more inclined towards peace.
On his return, having faced the possibility of his death, Nefertari who cannot have anymore children urges Ramses to have more children with his secondary wife Iset and to marry more women, so that there may be more possibilities for future pharoahs. Ramses, does have another son with Iset, but declines further marriages and decrees that all children who are educated in the palace school will be elevated to "Royal Son" and "Royal Daughter" and he would make a choice for his succession from amongst them.
Lita is found dead in the house owned by Shaanar and Ramses finally has proof to sentence his brother, but Shaanar escapes when being transported to a prison facility.
Ahsha sets off undercover to Hattusa to see for himself the state of preparedness and gauge how soon the Hittites will wage war against Egypt, but unfortunately is recognised by Raia (who has been identified as a spy and flees Egypt) and captured just before leaving with important information for Ramses. He only manages to send him a brief message : Kadesh. Quickly. Danger.
At Kadesh, Ramses confronts the combined army of the Hittites with the prines of Syria, Mitanni, Aleppo, Ugarit, Karkemish, Arzawa and other smaller principalities. Faced with a 40,000 strong army, the Egyptian army which had hardly seen any battles until then scatterred without even fighting. Accompanied only by his 2 charriot drawing horses and Invincible his lion, Ramses succeeded in sending the Hittite allied army back into the Kadesh fortress. But the fortress itself seemed impenetratable.
However Emperor Muwatallis, agrees to a peace agreement in which Ahsha is freed and the borders are fixed at Kadesh. Ramses retrned triumphant to Egypt, but the Hittites return only thirsting to avenge their defeat.
The book ends with Ahsha being captured again by Hattusilis when on a routine visit to the Egyptian outposts, in a lightning counter attack
Another engrossing read by Christian Jacq. The book keeps you hooked throughout. This story is one of the most popular one from the Pharaonic history of Egypt and it is interesting to read Jacq's interpretation of the available information.
Important facts and introduction to characters are all repeated, so you can read The Battle of Kadesh, even if you havent yet read the Son of the Light or Temple of a Million Years and are only interested in this most famous episode of Ramses II life..
Also check out my review of:
Ramses - The Son of the Light
Ramses - The Temple of a Million Years