6877776I have been a fan of Pauline Gedge for many years, ever since I read Child of the Morning in high school.  It’s my favorite book by her, the only one I have read more than once, and the one I recommend over and over again.

While most of her books deal with ancient Egypt, she does have a few contemporary fantasy/fiction books, as well as one about ancient Europe.  I’ve got a complete list of her works here.

The King’s Man begins in book one, The Twice Born, where we are introduced to a young Egyptian peasant boy named Huy, who is picked by his wealthier aunt and uncle to attend school and advance the family’s social and economical standing.  But they hit a snag.

See, Huy dies at school, well technically he’s murdered, and ascends to the Egyptian land of the dead where he meets some of their gods such as Imhotep and Anubis, and he is offered a task: read and decipher the Book of Thoth, the book of law that the creator god Atum laid down and dictated to his scribe, the ibis headed Thoth, god of knowledge.  And in return for accepting this task, the gods will preserve his body until they no longer need him, and he will be granted visions of the future.  He will be allowed to scry for the people of Egypt, and help them in whatever way they can.

So that’s book one, it focuses on Huy’s death, his ‘resurrection’ and learning about his powers and how to control them.  The second book, the Seer of Egypt, focuses on a task that the gods have given to Huy to preserve the laws of Ma’at, goddess of justice and balance, and subsequently fails.

Apparently the current king of Egypt in this story is a bit of a heretic, and wants to worship the sun disk god Aten over Atum or Ra, and that does not make the reigning gods happy.  They give Huy the task to trying to turn the heretic king from his path, but he fails.  He’s still a young man, and he’s called upon to challenge the most powerful man in Egypt, the one man everyone believes is a god reincarnate.  I think I’d quail a bit too.

So naturally the gods aren’t happy, but they give their chosen one another chance, in the first born son of the heretic king, Amunhotep III.

And now we’re caught up to King’s Man.  Through the latter half of Seer of Egypt, Huy has been fostering the young prince during the summer, and his mother has tried to ensure that he is raised properly when he is at the palance.  But now his royal father has died, and young Amunhotep is too young to take the throne, so his mother is Regeant until he becomes of age, and they call Huy to the palace to be one of their advisors.

This is his chance to redeem himself in the eyes of his gods, and he almost blows it.  Again.  He scries for a young noblewoman, and sees a two fold vision, one good, and one bad.  Drunk on the power he wields as one of the top five ranking men in Egypt, he focuses on the first part of the vision, making it come true, and in the process plants the seeds for the second half of the vision to come to pass: the destruction of Ma’at and the impoverishment of Egypt herself.

So now Huy, almost sixty years old and looking like he’s half his age, scrambles to fix his mistakes again.  This is the focus of book three; Huy’s attempt to make the first part of his vision come to pass, and then realizing almost too late that he has almost doomed his beloved Egypt and he scrambles to fix it.

I enjoyed this trilogy much more than the Lords of the Two Lands I read a while back.  I think it helps that The King’s Man trilogy was more fiction than historical, but I also really enjoyed the characters that Gedge came up with in this book.

Huy, while being a good man, a chosen of the gods, and practically immortal to boot, is not infallible.  He has very human flaws that make him more relateable than he would have been otherwise.  He falls in love with the wrong woman and has his heart torn out.  He fights against the restrictions that the gods have placed on him, such as impotence and the inability to get drunk, but he does what he thinks is right in the end.

And the characters that Huy surrounds himself with as well are quite interesting.  There’s Thothmes, his school boy friend who marries the first girl Huy ever loved, his best friend Ishat.  There’s Thothotep, one of few female scribes in the day who has a quick wit and a quicker tongue on her, as well as the myriad other characters who serve as scribes, soldiers, and servants to Huy as he ascends the ranks of nobility.  All of them have their own interesting quirks and flaws, and all inure themselves to you throughout the course of the book, so that as time passes and they must pass from Huy’s life in one way or another, you grieve alongside him.

All that, plus the usual visualization that Gedge puts into her books.  She brings ancient Egypt alive with her words, to the point where you can practically smell the desert air, and taste the wine that the characters are drinking even as you read it.

All in all, fantastic.  I look forward to whatever else Gedge puts our way.  Enjoy folks.

Next up: Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin.

6437061Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate – and gods and mortals – are bound inseparably together.