(Cover picture courtesy of L. M. Ironside’s website.)
Is Ahmose’s divine gift a blessing or a curse?
The second daughter of the Pharaoh, Ahmose has always dreamed of a quiet life as a priestess, serving Egypt’s gods, ministering to the people of the Two Lands. But when the Pharaoh dies without an heir, she is given instead as Great Royal Wife to the new king – a soldier of common birth. For Ahmose is god-chosen, gifted with the ability to read dreams, and it is her connection to the gods which ensures the new Pharaoh his right to rule.
Ahmose’s elder sister Mutnofret has been raised to expect the privileged station of Great Royal Wife; her rage at being displaced cannot be soothed. As Ahmose fights the currents of Egypt’s politics and Mutnofret’s vengeful anger, her youth and inexperience carry her beyond her depth and into the realm of sacrilege.
To right her wrongs and save Egypt from the gods’ wrath, Ahmose must face her most visceral fear: bearing an heir. But the gods of Egypt are exacting, and even her sacrifice may not be enough to restore the Two Lands to safety.
The Sekhmet Bed is the first volume of L. M. Ironside’s series The She-King, a family saga of the Thutmosides, one of ancient Egypt’s most fascinating royal families.
The Sekhmet Bed was actually recommended to me by an editor from another publishing house that I consider a friend. It was free on Amazon for that day so I decided to give it a try, considering that her previous recommendations had worked out very well for me. Thankfully, this one was no different.
It seems more and more people are writing about Hatshepsut these days (hallelujah!) but I’ve never, ever seen anyone write about her mother, Ahmose. And you know what? Ahmose deserves a little recognition too because while she obviously couldn’t match her daughter in some of her achievements she was a strong woman in her own way. Ironside filled in some gaps in the historical record with her own imaginings but it’s not out of the realm of possibility that things didn’t actually happen in a similar fashion.
Ahmose is just a girl when she’s married off to Thutmose, a common general who is chosen as the next Pharaoh because of the lack of male heirs in the family. This makes both of their positions extremely precarious and it’s up to Ahmose to smooth things over in the political sphere. She’s very obviously young and naive when she’s first married but I love how she really comes into her own as she grows older. Ahmose doesn’t have an easy time of it in life but she reacts realistically to a rather bad situation and eventually finds a little bit of happiness.
I wouldn’t say the plot is fast-paced by most standards, but it was very interesting. There’s not as much political intrigue as I would have liked but that’s more of a personal preference than anything else. The religious aspect of the novel was fascinating, though, and I love that Ironside went into such detail about Egyptian religion. It’s quite strange to the modern reader but she manages to explain such things to the reader in a way that makes it easy to understand for people new to ancient Egyptian history as well as fanatics like myself.
Basically, this is just an awesome self-published novel. There were barely any errors and none of them were particularly memorable (just some missed quotation marks and such). Really, this is just a good story with an amazing female lead and great historical accuracy. Where there are changes, they’re completely justified so I can’t even complain about that. The Sekhmet Bed is just a great book and I can’t wait to read more of Ironside’s work.
I give this book 5/5 stars.