River God (Wilbur Smith)

river-god-coverSpoilers ahead…If you are tired of the same old same old, I suggest you give this first novel of a 4 part series a go and treat yourself to a read that will stir your imagination like few others can. This is bloody long though, too long. But for sheer imaginative scope, River God is enthralling. This chronicles a transitional period in ancient Egyptian history of approximately forty years. The story is narrated by the charming eunuch slave Taita, whose secret passion for queen Lostris surprises us. For all his protestations of being no soldier he manages to be in the front lines of many battles, and his tales of them will have you on the edge of your seat.

Our know-it-all protagonist Taita (he seems to be a cross between Nikolai Tesla and Leonardo Da Vinci) reaches manhood before being castrated in order to render him “safe” for service in the harem. He retains his passion, artistic drives and incredible ego, and the exercise of these alone are entertainment of the highest order. After his responsibility to the queen, Taita’s primary task in life is to oversee the creation of the treasures the pharaoh will carry to the next life. Along the way – if you believe Taita’s egotistical (he can be a jackass) and often condescending reports (and I loved believing) – he engineers the cutting of stones for the pyramid, personally carves the most exquisite of the golden treasures to be entombed with the ruler, influences most of Pharoah’s decisions, protects his friends and destroys his enemies and oh yes, devises equipment and tactics which make the army invincible.

Ultimately, however, the Hyksos arrive, an enemy whose primary weapon – the horse – is unknown. The hoard drives toward the capital city, defeating the Pharoah’s forces wherever they are met and finally it is necessary for Taita to oversee putting everything of value aboard barges and direct the flight to the south. In the high place where the Nile valley ends and the vast plain of Africa begins, Taita and the remnants of the royal family go into hiding while Taita, deprived of his pyramid, struggles to conceive a way to create a safe tomb. Of the half dozen books I’ve read by Wilbur Smith, this is probably my favourite so far. He undertakes sufficient amounts of research to provide a reasonable degree of time, place, and events for his dialogue and story line. With a long career dating back to his first novel published in 1964, its not surprising to learn the Rhodesian-born Smith has exceeded $30 million in book sales.

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Comments

  1. last time I’ve checked there were supposed to be 6 books in series πŸ™‚
    I’ve only read three by now and it was years ago, I want to re-read them and finish the series one day.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hope you enjoy the entire series. Its always nice to hear from enthusiastic readers. Thank you for commenting. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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