cover image Mask of Ra

Mask of Ra

Paul C. Doherty. Minotaur Books, $21.95 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-312-20560-7

In 1479 B.C., Pharaoh Tuthmosis II returns in triumph to the city of Thebes after a series of victorious battles in the Nile Delta. But soon after his homecoming, he dies in the arms of his wife, at the foot of a statue of his patron god, Amun-Ra. Tuthmosis's untimely death, apparently caused by a snake bite, results in political chaos as the forces surrounding the throne coalesce into two camps: one supports the ascension of the pharaoh's illegitimate young son; the other, that of his widow and half-sister, Hatusu. Meanwhile, the chief judge of Thebes, Amerotke, must try the captain of the guard for the pharaoh's death, since he failed to remove the deadly snake from the royal barge. When Hatusu tries to claim his loyalty, Amerotke is forced into the conflict surrounding the succession. Several murders ensue, raising questions about the true nature of Tuthmosis's demise. Doherty (Ghostly Murders, etc.) excels at historical detail, bringing ancient Egypt to life in his descriptions of daily life and characters drawn from every caste. This novel launches a series--and that's good news. (May)