cover image Lord of the Two Lands

Lord of the Two Lands

Judith Tarr. Tor Books, $19.95 (317pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85362-4

Although Tarr ( Alamut ; The Dagger and the Cross ) brings her customary depth of research to her topic--Alexander the Great in Egypt--and although the tale of Alexander's conquests carries a certain measure of ingrained drama, her efforts here fall flat. Meriamon, priestess and daughter of Egypt's rebel pharoah, comes to Alexander's camp after his first decisive victory over the Persians. She insinuates herself into his circle and, bit by bit, cajoles him into liberating her country from the hated Persians before he advances into Persia proper. At the same time she slowly falls in love with Niko, one of Alexander's soldiers. But circumstances and their contrary natures keep them apart for most of the book, and their turgid romance takes up too much space for too little purpose. The march toward Egypt generates little tension, save for a few moments during the sieges of Tyre and Gaza. Even Alexander seems merely to be going through prescribed motions, and Tarr strangely ignores what many readers will readers will surely know--that Alexander will not live long after his Egyptian adventure. Having for the most part downplayed the fantasy elements that added a welcome wrinkle to her previous historical novels, Tarr has yet to replace them with something to hold her readers' interest. (Mar.)