Author: Nick Drake, 2011.
Genre: Historical Thriller. Ancient Egypt
Other Details: Hardback. 349 pages.
In this final instalment of Drake's trilogy set during the time that Egypt was ruled by the 18th Dynasty, Rai Rahotep, Seeker of Mysteries, finds himself once more caught up in dangerous royal politics that will determine the future of Egypt.
Rahotep is asked by Queen Ankhesenamun, widow of King Tutankhamun, to accompany the royal envoy, Nakht, to meet with the King of the Hittites. Nakht is to attempt to broker a royal marriage between one of the King's sons and the Queen, who expects to soon become a widow for a second time. The need for an alliance is important as the powerful military leader Horemheb had been poised to take the throne after Tutankhamun's death but was thwarted in this ambition when Ankhesenamun married Ay, an elderly distant relative who is now close to death. With no children from either marriage, Ankhesenamun has resorted to the extreme measure of seeking an alliance with Egypt's long term enemy to ensure the continuation of her dynasty and to bring peace to Egypt.
Aside from fulfilling the request of the Queen and providing protection for Nakht with whom he has shared an unlikely friendship for some years, Rahotep has another reason to wish to make the journey. Recently in his duties as a Menjay he has become aware of a new threat to Thebes in the form of a gang of opium dealers who are utilising extreme violence to eliminate their competitors. They appear to be being supplied by a group known as the Army of Chaos. After someone close to him become a victim of the gang, Rahotep swears to extract a personal revenge. He hopes to learn more about the group and their secret supply route during the journey to the North.
The novel has a historical basis as records indicate that Queen Ankhesenamun did make overtures to the Hittite king, Suppiluliuma I, for a royal marriage alliance. Drake gives the details of what is known of this in his Author's Note as well as including a bibliography of non-fiction works about the period.
I have read the previous books in this series and found both quite enjoyable even if sometimes the conscious parallels he makes to modern-day life has led me to dub the series as CSI: Ancient Egypt. This was no exception but I enjoyed it very much. Rai Rahotep remains a sympathetic character and able narrator. Drake does once again captures the ambiance of his setting despite some of the modern sensibilities within the narrative.