Pharaoh * Wilbur Smith

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Charity Shop find! I love anything to do with Ancient Egypt and Pharaohs and mummys. Much so I even read the super sexy mummy encounter in The Mummy, so I was expecting a little bit more than I received.

‘A blazing trip into the land of the Pharaohs from a giant of a writer’ Australian Women’s Weekly Egypt is under attack. All seems lost. After snatching victory from almost-certain defeat, ex-slave Taita, general of Egypt’s armies, returns in triumph to the ancient city of Luxor. But the old ruler has died and a new Pharaoh has risen – Utteric, young, weak and cruel. Threatened by Taita’s friendship with his younger and worthier brother, Rameses, Utteric imprions Taita for treason. To a good man like Rameses, there is no choice: both Taita and Egypt must be set free. From the glittering temples of Luxor to the Citadel of Sparta, Pharaoh is an intense and powerful novel magnificently transporting you to a time of threat, blood and glory.

If this book were a cake, it would be an Eton mess. It is juicy in parts, but the way it’s bound together leaves more to be desired. The characters are flat and boring, the romance is flat and boring and even the wedding nuptials are boring, with the exception of the boar attack. The beauty of the princess is drummed about in every chapter, Taita’s infatuations with the princess’s beauty and her mother’s beauty and her grandmother’s beauty borders on stalkerish and the prince could have been made out of cardboard.

It’s so crap I was actually surprised it’s part of a series. I can only hope the people who’ve had the pleasure of reading the other instalments had more fun than I did.

I am well and truly fed up with reading about Taita. This man can do no wrong and the whole book goes on adnauseum about how perfect he is. I felt like the story missed a lot of Smith’s usual mesmerizing excitement but just waffled on about a bunch of nothing. If someone wants to read Wilbur Smith books, do not start with this book as it really isn’t a good example of this master story teller.

The beginning of the story was good with Taita returning to Egypt to welcome the new Pharaoh Utteric after winning a war against their enemy and then being thrown into prison after being branded as a traitor. After that, the story goes downhill when Taita miraculously escapes. he endeavours to put the rightful heir Rameses and his new bride Serrena Cleopatra on the throne.

All sense of direction is confused in the movement of armies around Egypt, while there are apparently two tributaries of the Nile inside Egypt and a whole host of forests! The founding of Sparta and phalanx warfare six centuries early are just as jarring.

All in all, disappointing read and I don’t think I’ll bother with anything else Taita related.

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