The Twice Born and Seer of Egypt, by Pauline Gedge

twicebornWhen I read a historical novel set in medieval England, I feel like I’m on at least moderately familiar ground, as I’ve read so much set in that era.  I’m even beginning, due to last summer’s reading binge (and HBO) to feel a little at home in ancient Rome.  But there’s a special kind of pleasure in reading a historical novel set in a place and time I don’t know well.  Pauline Gedge’s books about ancient Egypt (this is the second series of hers I’ve read) fall into this category.

It’s definitely more work, to try to enter imaginatively into a country and an era that are so alien to me, but Gedge paves the way beautifully, creating a vivid and realistic Egypt.  Her descriptions are good and her research is obviously exhaustive — yet doesn’t intrude too much on the narrative. These two books, the first two of a trilogy, tell the story of Huy son of Hapu, born a peasant, who rises to become the titular “Seer of Egypt.”  Huy is a believably complex character, as are his family, friends and associates, and I was intrigued by his story and interested in its outcome from the very beginning.

Another great thing about reading novels when you’re not so familiar with the history is that you don’t know how the story will end.  I’d never heard of Huy before and I’m not familiar with the reigns of the Pharaohs of that time, so I have no idea where the plot is going.  That lends some real suspense that’s not always present in historical fiction based on real characters. 

The details about Egyptian religion and the book of Thoth were intriguing but sometimes a bit too arcane for me to follow, perhaps because it’s not something I have a strong interest in. But the human story is real and intriguing enough that I’m looking forward to Book 3 … though I haven’t yet been able to find out when it’s coming out, so I may have to wait awhile.



Filed under Canadian author, Fiction -- historical

5 responses to “The Twice Born and Seer of Egypt, by Pauline Gedge

  1. Jenny

    I almost can’t visit your site any more, since you make even books I wouldn’t normally read sound fascinating. Ancient Egypt — I’ve been looking for a good nonfiction book about the opening of the pyramids, but I never thought a historical novel from this era could sound like so much fun! Thanks for this.

  2. Karen

    I have a question on this book. was Huy castrated? It seems he alludes to it but never comes out and says it.

    • Derek

      So far, I have had the pleasure of reading 12 of Pauline Gedge’s books. Her books are well researched and her writing is excellent. Her understanding of human nature in all its depths and complexity is unparalled.

      The third book in the King’s Man trilogy is scheduled to come out in March 2010. In answer to the question by Karen, I do not have the impression that Huy was castrated so much as impotent due to his scrying ability.

  3. Angela

    I have read Twice Born and am now half way through The Seer of Egypt. I have now put the book down out of frustration. Pauline Gedge wrote a great story in Twice Born and I rushed out to buy Seer of Egypt and The Kings Man. She has… for me, lost the human reality side of the story and I find that all the mumbo jumbo writings of the gods and the Book of Thoth are too painful and long winded to get through. It is a shame

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