River God by Wilbur Smith is a novel set in Egypt two thousand years before the birth of Christ. Smith takes the reader on a journey into a different era and destination on the continent of Africa. This journey starts in the Lower Kingdon of Thebes and travels up, or down depending on your perspective, the Nile, over the cataracts to the Abyssinian mountains.
The story is written in the first person by Taita, the personal slave of the Lord Intef, a eunuch charged with protecting the Lord's daughter Lostris. Taita is a hoot! He is convinced that he is blessed by the Gods with exceptional good looks, intelligence, cleverness, insight into the God's grand plans, and extreme confidence that he has the answers to everything.
Fortunately for Lostris, Taita is usually correct, and although he is definitely overbearing, pretentious, obnoxious and a royal pain in the butt, he is loyal to a fault and will lay down his life for his mistress. His dedication to Lostris, to the continuation of the dynastic line no matter what is the key to this story.
As the royal barge passes through Thebes on the eve of the Festival of Osiris, Taita can see that things are failing in the kingdon, that all is not as it has been and that somethings will never be the same. The dynasty that has seen eleven Pharohs is falling apart - the Hyksos are coming, famine is in the wind, the people are not happy and rebellion may be next. What is a slave to do but take things into his own hands as best he can to preserve the line, save the daughter and the Kingdom. The stage is set for an epic journey through a time and place that is long gone and buried.
The sheer writing power and depth of characters that Wilbur Smith infuses into his books brings all things lost back to life in a way that is unparalleled. His research is incredibly detailed, the people and places just have to existed, even tho the history books make no mention of them. The reader can't help but be completely drawn into the lives and loves and losses of each and every person in this book. I found that it being written in the first person made it much more an intimate story, personal and tragic, enlightening and joyful, depending on the time and place.
This then, is the story of Taita and Lostris as they journey on the Nile, of Tanus, the officer who wants Lostris at any cost; Kratus the loyal soldier, Menset and Sobek, the traitorous sons of Intef - the list just goes on and on. These Egyptian families were SO dysfunctional! Who wants to be Pharoh? Dumb question - everyone! And who does Taita help attain the crown?
Read the book! And there is more where this one came from.
Title: River God