Maceheads thudded against human anvils to mingle with the last wails of the mortally wounded, the blasphemies of the defeated.
Khamsin: The Devil Wind of the Nile by Inge H. Borg is pre-pharaonic Egyptian novel. Borg was born in Austria, immigrated to the United States, currently lives in Arkansas. She is also the author of Sirocco: Storm Over Land and Sea(a contemporary tie in to Khamsin), the series Legends of the Winged Scarab, Moments of the Heart, A book of Poems and Short Prose, and several over books on a variety of subjects.
As a youth Egyptian history fascinated me from Boris Karloff as The Mummy, to The Treasures of Tutankhamun tour of the 1970s, to Steve Martin’s hit song about the boy king. Egypt became a high point in history class in grade and middle school. Egypt, we learned, became a major civilization without having much of a prehistory. It seemed like an advanced civilization suddenly materialized into being. Today we know more, and Borg takes advantage of this in her novel. Although a work of fiction, it does show the culture, religion, and what life could have been like in that time period.
Khamsin is a book about power, gold, and war. Gold is discovered, the king wants its, and he is prepared to fight for it. It is also about power as the king is not the only one who wants to be king. There is some romance, but nothing that would scare off male readers. One of the things I liked best in the book was the innovation of the military and particularly the development of science by the religious class. Some advances by the priest class may be a little far fetched but not beyond willing suspension of disbelief.
The story is well thought out and well written. In fact, all the parallel stories are well done. The collection of main characters covers a wide spread the society and also provides a look inside the classes of characters too. There is the king and son and daughter. The High Priest and an acolyte. The ranking civil servant and his underling. Even within the slave population there seems to be a hierarchy. The military seems to stand alone. While detailing the professional military officer only a brief mention of professional soldiers and conscripts are mentioned.
Perhaps the most interesting is how the priestly class is portrayed in the book. Ramose knows the power the priesthood has on the people, the king, and his enemies. How he uses his power is what separates him from many. In the battle between knowledge and belief, he seems to have taken a side. Personally, Ramose is the most interesting character in the story, although not the main character.
Khamsin is very good historical fiction novel. It also includes several other genres into the mix including military fiction. Borg knows her stuff and even though this is fiction there is new information for most readers. One thing I have not gotten used to with e-books is scanning through the pages before reading. If I would have done so, I would have noticed the excellent appendixes with character references, glossary, geographical references before I started reading. A very enjoyable novel with a great story, some treachery, suspense, well developed characters, and a little history. Highly recommended for fans of historical fiction.
Joseph Spuckler gives Khamsin, The Devil Wind of The Nile 4 stars