May 20, 2010
The Pagan & The Pen Reviews
Title: The God’s Wife
Author: Lena Austin
Publisher: Aspen Mountain Press
Genre: Historical Fiction/Romance
Length: 222 pgs.
Reviewed by: Violet Harper
The Book: Hatshepsut is a God’s Wife, a member of a secret political society of Egyptian noblewomen who use whatever it takes for the good of Egypt—money, assassination, even sex. Royal by birth, her entire life is spent in training to be the consort of the Pharaoh, Tutmose.
Despite her love for Senmut, who as a humble scribe is an unacceptable husband, Hati succeeds in winning the Pharaoh’s affections. But when Tutmose dies unexpectedly she is left as Regent of Egypt and pregnant with the dead Pharaoh’s heir.
Akenmose, her husband’s brother, is plotting to kill her and the babe—and to take the throne of Egypt for himself. Hati must protect Egypt against his deadly schemes until her son is old enough to take the throne. With Senmut and the God’s Wives standing behind her, Hati will use every weapon she finds to keep her infant son alive. Will her sacrifices be enough to save Egypt? Or will Akenmose’s schemes succeed despite the power of the God’s Wife?
The Review: Hatshepsut has long been a controversial figure from ancient Egypt. She was the first female regent to exercise the full power of a Pharaoh. She assumed the appearance of a man to keep others from challenging her claim. Not much is known about her historically because everything she left behind was obliterated. Her name and face were removed from pillars and tombs. The discovery of her existence was accidental. Scholars have ideas about why this might have happened, but no hard evidence.
Lena Austin takes the mystique behind Hatshepsut and spins a wonderfully believable tale about what kind of person she might have been and how the events in her life might have unfolded. Adding in the concept of the God’s Wives, a group of women who secretly wield all the power in Egypt, Ms. Austin creates one of the best tales I’ve had the pleasure to read. The God’s Wives are good women, charged with keeping all of Egypt safe and healthy. Not since I, Claudius have I been so enraptured by the tale of an ancient ruler.
Rarely does historical fiction take a reader so into a time period that an interruption in reading causes the reader to blink and wonder why she isn’t in Egypt. The details of the description create vivid pictures for the reader without overwhelming them with information and needless facts. Even someone unfamiliar with ancient Egyptian culture would have an easy time figuring it all out.
Though it was not a quick read, it moved fast and it kept me on the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen next. This is one of those undiscovered gems that should be on the New York Times Bestseller list. Lovers of historical fiction will find this one of those novels you want to read over and over again because the characters and the story are so riveting. Upon rereading it, discoveries will be made about details that seemed irrelevant or just there for the sake of description. They will reveal themselves to be important background knowledge or foreshadowing.
I loved the strong characters and how real they became to me. This story had it all—love, hate, sacrifices, murder, betrayal, sword fights, espionage, royal intrigue, soul-searching, and true friendship. The complex plot is worthy of the complex characters. The God’s Wife is an expertly woven epic tale that should be read by everyone.
The God’s Wives are a group of women with different abilities. Some have the gift of precognition, others can sense or control the emotions or thought of people around them, and others are trained in the properties and uses of herbs, flowers, etc. The secretly rule Egypt, keeping it safe from evil. Whether or not you recognize the specific Egyptian Gods and Goddesses they cite, all Pagans will recognize and appreciate the underlying principles guiding The God’s Wives.
Cover (Rated 1-10): 7-Shades of gold and hieroglyphics catch the eye, but it’s a generic cover that could go with any Egyptian romance novel.
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