Desert God by Wilbur Smith
This epic novel comes at the end of the Ancient Egyptian series and reviews suggest that the prior books – in particular River God – are very good indeed. This one however was a struggle for me to finish and my feeling is that perhaps the author would have been better to leave the subject alone after the first 4 books.
Set in ancient times it is very well researched and it certainly adds to the readers’ knowledge and understanding of life in that era. The story covers a lengthy journey through areas of the Middle East to gain political advantage for Egypt by seeking allies to assist in containing ever present enemies. However, while there are some good action sequences – the opening one in particular in the battle against the Hyksos – the book tends to plod along for much of the time, reading somewhat like a diary.
The central character is Taita, an Egyptian slave and adviser to the Pharaoh who is willing to go to any lengths to protect him and his family. Taita is very wise and an expert at just about everything. He is still staunch in battle despite his advanced age, which is apparently around 90 years. There are supernatural elements to the story, so perhaps this is meant to account for his astonishing prowess in all areas.
Overall, while I admired the depth of historical research, I just felt the book went on too long for me to really enjoy it, and while some of the story was quite gripping, too much of it was very low key.