I enjoy historical fiction and haven't read any for a while so picked this up looking forward to revisiting the genre. This novella is set in Ancient Egypt and is the story of Sentu, who wants to be accepted into the Priesthood to be able to study in the Pharoah's court. Coming from lowly fellahin origins he feels it must be a miracle when he is initiated into the Priesthood. From the start he appears to be special to High Priest Hozat, earning him the disdain of the other initiates, apart from faithful Ahmen. He quickly realises his world is corrupt, and discovers the horrors of life under Hozat. This is a story of friendship and betrayal.
The story contains rich details of Egyptian beliefs and mythology that had me fascinated. To start with Sentu was a sympathetic character but by the end my feelings about him were far less clear cut. The details of ritual sacrifices and torture were uncompromising as painted a different picture of the people of that time to the one I have seen previously. So often the Pharoah takes a starring role in stories of Ancient Egypt but here one of his wives, Berenib, is more prominent. She is scheming and vindictive, a complete contrast to Nubian priestess Asrule, who is dignified and strong despite her imprisonment.
I liked this novella with its strong characters and different perspective from other books in this vein. There were some paragraphs I had to re-read to make sense of, which pulled me out of the moment, and there were some Gods and Egyptian terms I wasn't familiar with and as a result I felt I might be missing something, but overall it was a good, intelligent read and I'd happily look at other works by this author.
Format: Kindle, review copy
My Rating: 3*