Thursday, 10 February 2011

River God - Wilbur Smith, 1993

Wilbur Smith is an author whose milieu divides critics. As a white South African who grew up in the colonial days of Africa, his opinions on slavery can be hard to swallow.

However, in River God these problems can be mostly set aside as the book is set 4000 years before the birth of Christ. An epic's epic, it follows a huge cast of characters over more than 30 years in one of the most tumultuous periods in the nation's history.

The story is a first-person account of the life of Taita, a slave in the empire of the Two Kingdoms of Egypt, a land riven by civil war, beset by raiders and wallowing in its own stagnation. It weaves skillfully a powerful love story and a war story, as the book's star-crossed lovers struggle to unite the kingdom in the face of an invasion by the Hyksos, who bring a terrible new kind of warfare to ancient Egypt on the back of a war chariot.

Charting searing highs and crushing lows, and replete with historical detail, this is a great book for anyone interested in the era.

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