Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The New Kingdom by Wilbur Smith
Series: Ancient Egypt #7
on September 7, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple
In the heart of Egypt Under the watchful eye of the gods A new power is rising
In the city of Lahun, Hui lives an enchanted life. The favoured son of a doting father, and ruler-in-waiting of the great city, his fate is set. But behind the beautiful façades a sinister evil is plotting. Craving pow er and embittered by jealousy, Hui's stepmother, the great sorceress Isetnofret, and Hui's own brother Qen, orchestrate the downfall of Hui's father, condemning Hui and seizing power in the city.
Cast out and alone, Hui finds himself a captive of a skilled and powerful army of outlaw s, the Hyksos. Determined to seek vengeance for the death of his father and rescue his sister, Ipwet, Hui swears his allegiance to these enemies of Egypt. Through them he learns the art of war, learning how to fight and becoming an envied charioteer.
But soon Hui finds himself in an even greater battle - one for the very heart of Egypt itself. As the pieces fall into place and the Gods themselves join the fray, Hui finds himself fighting alongside the Egyptian General Tanus and renowned Mage, Taita. Now Hui must choose his path - will he be a hero in the old world, or a master in a new kingdom?
Bringing the ancient and mystical land of Egypt, during the time of the Pharaohs, alive, with a semblance of authenticity and a story to engage the reader, is no mean feat. I saw the title on this one and then read the blurb. I was compelled to read it and hopefully discover a new to me author who could bring to life an ancient land and its people.
The New Kingdom is the seventh book released in the Ancient Egypt series. It works as a standalone because it is actually a parallel story to events that happen earlier in the series with the main character in those, Taita, a side character in this one. No doubt, series fans will get more out of the references to recurring characters and events seen from a different angle, but this was still a thrashing good historical adventure story for me.
So, The New Kingdom introduces Hui. Hui is seventeen and his life has been fairly easygoing up to this point as the second and favored son of the governor of Lahun. He’s ripe for adventure. Along with his cold, older half-brother Qen, and a friend, they are attempting to steal from the raiders a powerful black rock that fell from the stars known as the Ka Stone and reputed to carry the voices of the gods and bring power to the possessor.
There was already jealousy and malice going on behind the scenes in Hui’s family home with his stepmother and Qen, envious of his place in his father’s heart and his future position that would replace his father. Isetnofret is determined that she and her son, Qen, will ascend to the highest power. The stone is exactly the catalyst she needs to fulfill her destiny. Innocent Hui doesn’t see the betrayal coming until he is accused of patricide and more.
Getting free with help, he leaves Lahun with sorrow and a need for revenge burning inside him. Thus begins his long eventful life journey in which he finds himself among desert thieves, warriors, commoners and royalty. Eventually he ends up fighting alongside the greatest Egyptian general and magician to fight off the invading Hyksos. All along, he awaits his chance for revenge on his brother and his sorcerer mother, and to rescue his sister from them.
The New Kingdom is set in ancient Egypt, but it is an adventure thriller through and through. It doesn’t spend as much time filling in the details on the characters, but gives a good sketch and off it goes. There are lots of people and details including the superstitions and beliefs of the day which play a huge role in their lives so the story shifts, pace even lags at times. Hui is the central figure, but there are several important characters like General Tanus and Warlock Taita and situations he encounters in his roundabout journey to reach his goals. He falls low at first and has a tough row to hoe as he earns his chops, but he doesn’t give up. He gains skills and knowledge and, most of all, experience in the school of hard knocks. The culmination of the story brings him full circle. It will end on a high note for Hui, but there are ominous clouds for the panoramic sweep of the story as it falls within the scope of the series.
All in all, it was both predictable and a surprise. I could see where things were going and where they had to end up, but the journey along the way left a lot to be experienced. I enjoyed the author’s writing, the background, and the characters. Definitely want to go back for the earlier stories to see where this one falls in all that. Whether a reader is looking for exciting historical fiction set in Egypt or a pulse-pounding adventure, both camps will find something to like.
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