Friday, 30 September 2011

Kim's Review : Ramses - The Lady of Abu Simbel

Halfway through reading Ramses: The Son of the Light, I placed an order for the next 4 books in Christian Jacq's Ramses series. Ramses : The Lady of Abu Simbel is the Fourth book in this series.

Having defeated the Hittites at Kadesh, Ramses had hoped for the peace treaty to last. But the Hittites struck quickly stirring up revolt again amongst Egypts allies and the bedouin

Ofir sends his accomplice and Pharoahs sister Dolora back to the palace where she inviegles her way into Nefertari's good books and into Iset's service. Where she slowly tries to poison Iset against Nefertari, hoping to break the bond between the Royal couple who keep Ma'at in balance. Shanaar who escaped when being transported from a Memphis prison to an oasis labour outpost, rejoins Ofir and they hide out at the deserted capital of Akhenaten.

Moses has had an encounter with Yahweh in the form of a burning bush in the desert and believes that he is called to lead all the Hebrews out of Egypt to a promised land. So, this book sees Moses finally returning to Pi-Ramses from his flight into the desert with a wife Zipporah and their infant son.

Ofir heads the Hittite spy network in Egypt and uses his powers of persuasion and black magic to convince the bedouin that they have the same objectives and the Hebrews through Moses, that they all believe in monotheism

Ramses sets out to rescue Asha who is now a Hittite captive in Amurru. But the Hittites retreated from Egyptian land as swiftly as the Egyptian army approached. And again the lack of knowledge of Hittite terrain and the lack of blood thirstiness of the Egyptians convinces Ramses to return rather than pursue his enemy.

On return to Pi-Ramses, Moses meets with Ramses and demands that all Hebrews be allowed to leave Egypt. Ramses argument is 2 fold. 1. The Hebrews aren't slaves, they have assimilated into Egyptian society, they are free to practice their religious beliefs, why should they leave? 2. the Hebrews are also his subjects and with the Hittites threat around Egypt's borders, how can he allow them to leave with a clean conscience knowing that they could meet with complete annihilation?

Muwattallis dies and in the power struggle between his son Uri-Teshup and brother Hattusilis, Ahsha sides with the less blood thirsty Hattusilis and double crosses Uri Teshup while pretending to be his ally. However, in a stroke of genius, just before Uri-Teshup is about to be killed, Ahsha rescues him and sends him to Pi-Ramses to safety where he reveals all the details of the Hittite army to the Egyptians. But this angers Hattusilis who threatens war unless Uri-Teshup is returned to face trial in Hatti.

Kha - Ramses first born from Iset enters the priesthood a logical progression from his early love for learning and the mysteries. He is appointed the High Priest of Ptah and is hence one of the notables before whom Moses seeks to appear to plead his case.

Then follow the plagues which Moses claims to be sent by Yahweh to punish the Egyptians for their stubborness, but Jacq explains away each of them as natural phenomena and this could be the crux why, this series has not been taken up by Hollywood to be turned into a movie.

Shanaar, Ofir and Dolora keep trying to harm the royal couple and Kha. Finally they manage to infiltrate Kha's defenses and by black magic, cause him great sickness, which takes all of Nefertari's life force to keep him alive until the dark magic causing it is destroyed. This they had hoped would be the 10th plague. - death to the first born males.

However Ofir and Dolora are caught and sentenced. Shanaar meest his death at the hands of Nubian tribal chiefs whom he had incited against Ramses. Ramses and Hattusilis sign the historic Peace treaty between the Hittites and the Egyptians, due to the unwavering efforts and diplomatic tatcics of their wives and Ahsha.

Inspite of all this good news around, Ramses faces three crushing blows. the death of his mother Tuya and faithful companion dog - wideawake, to old age and Nefertari succumbs to the loss of her life force too.

Thus The Lady of Abu Simbel ends on an extremely somber note.

Important facts and introduction to characters are all repeated, so you can read The Lady of Abu Simbel, even if you havent yet read the Son of the Light or Temple of a Million Years or the Battle of Kadesh, but this volume is difficult to appreciate as a standalone. It does tell a story, but its the middle of a story, neither here nor there. Read this as a standalone only if your sole interest is in Jacq's interpretation of the Hebrews struggle for independence.

Rating: 4/5

Also check out my review of:
Ramses - The Son of the Light
Ramses - The Temple of a Million Years
Ramses - The Battle of Kadesh


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