James Hockey's Reviews > The City of Refuge

The City of Refuge by Diana Wilder
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's review
Jun 08, 2012

really liked it
Read in June, 2012

This is a mystery set in a fascinating period of Ancient Egyptian history. The dissenting monotheistic sun-worshipping world of Pharaoh Akhenaten has fallen. Egypt has returned to it's traditional Gods. The city of the sun, Akhenaten's capital, lies in ruins and is occupied by a royal expedition sent to assess its usefulness as a source of architectural quality stone.

The discipline of this party of priests, police and soldiers is disturbed by rumours of ghosts and noises in the night. There are murders and the danger of mutiny.

Of the trilogy of Ancient Egyptian tales by Diana Wilder that I have read, this is my favourite. She has captured the flavour of the aftermath of tumult where heresy and dissent have been overcome and toppled by the forces of reaction. The excellent afterword is manna to feed the curiosity of non-Egyptologists aroused by this well researched story. Her writing style is lyrical and evocative of the ruined and failed but magnificent city by the Nile.

Once again the message that can be taken from this story of ancient times is applicable to our own. We do not have to look far to the east to see a parallel innovation overturned by a return to tradition.

In addition to the riveting action in the surrounding ruins this is a cracking good mystery with betrayal and vengeance at its heart. I would recommend this to lovers of Ancient Egyptian yarns and mysteries alike.

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