The Twice Born by Pauline Gedge

(Cover picture courtesy of Amazon.)

Young Huy’s family is thrilled when his uncle offers to pay for the boy to attend a prestigious school at Iunu.  Thanks to his generous benefactor, the farmer’s son will now have a chance at a better life as a scribe.  But one away at school, Huy is unprepared for the jealousy his easy success stirs in fellow pupils, and he becomes the victim of a vicious attack that leaves him dead—or so it would seem.

His inexplicable return to life makes Huy a pariah, ostracizes him because of his visions of the deaths around him.  But priests believe his powers could be the key to interpreting the Book of Thoth, and Huy’s newfound fame attracts the attention of Pharaoh Amunhotep.  It’s only then that Huy begins to realize that his power is not granted to him, but owns him, for he is no longer his own master.  He is the King’s Man.

Well, here it is: the book that started my obsession with ancient Egypt.  I received this book on a bitterly cold Christmas Day and the lure of a story in a nice, warm climate was too hard to resist.

When I first began reading The Twice Born, I tried to take what little I knew about ancient Egypt and apply it to the novel.  But then I let go and surrendered myself to Pauline Gedge’s slow but compelling narrative.  The novel opens when Huy is four years old, a selfish and spoiled child, but drops hints as to his future: “When he was an old man, feared and worshiped by the whole of Egypt, wealthy beyond the dreams of any save the King himself, Huy would find himself pondering those words.”  (Pg 14)

The Twice Born is an excellent story, rich in historical details and wonderful character development, but it is not a book for those who love fast-paced plots.  It follows Huy from the time he is four years old until the time he is eighteen, with very few interesting events in between (aside from when he is twelve years old).  You simply have to sit back, enjoy the wonderful scenery and the realistic characters and let go of your preconceived notions of what ancient Egypt was really like.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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