Matt D's Reviews > The Age of Ra

The Age of Ra by James Lovegrove
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's review
Jul 12, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: alternate-history, godpunk
Read from July 08 to 12, 2012

I can't even begin to say how much I love this book. I initially came across it at the bookstore and didn't pick it up; while the concept was interesting, the cover art made me wary that it would be a typical war/adventure novel wrapped in a fun concept that would disappoint me. I ended up picking up another book, which I later found out that I already had; I returned to the book store, got a credit, and decided why not, I'd give this a chance.

I'm very glad that I did.

The gods of ancient Egypt have returned to earth, defeated every other pantheon, and asserted themselves as ultimate deities of the world. They assert their will on the hapless mortals below, who must obey their whimsy. There is one place in the world spared their influence, Freegypt; and from Freegypt springs a leader who promises to lead the world out of the influence of the gods. I can't truly say much more without giving away too much of the plot.

I read over some of the other reviews for this book, and I truly can't fathom a few of the complaints. I'm not sure what book they read, but it apparently wasn't this one. It's a well crafted story, blending action, mythos, a bit of mystery, and a tiny splash of romance into one exceptionally entertaining story.

I love the way that the author portrays the gods. Anybody who has studied the pantheons of the ancient world will understand why, when reading this book. Unlike the modern monotheistic faiths, the gods of yesteryear were more human-like, and thus relateable to their believers. They had strengths and weaknesses, personalities, desires, whims, and just about anything that a normal person would have had. Lovegrove does all of this justice when he writes the segments about the gods, truly highlighting the complex relationships that each deity had with one another. I don't know about you, but I like my gods as relatable and understandable, instead of some aloof guy on a cloud somewhere.

What I adore about this book, and I haven't seen anybody else mention so far (though I could just have skimmed over it) is that the author seems to be using this context to bring to light how religion dominates our world just the same way that it does in this one. Replace Horus with Yahweh and Osiris with Allah and you still have the same story of god commanding his followers to go blast the crap out of the followers of a different god. What I think is brilliant about this is that to most readers, the idea of Osiris, Isis, Anubus, Set, etc sending mortals into a never ending war to satisfy their needs to force their worship on the world seems silly and far fetched to most readers, yet if you turn on the news a good chunk of what you'll see in international affairs is Christians killing Muslims, Muslims killing Jews, Jews killing Muslims and so on, so forth. This book seems like a brilliant way of highlighting that no matter what god you follow, it all boils down to the same thing in the end. And, for this, I commend the author greatly.

The only complaint I can fathom to come up with about this book is that I wish he'd gone into more detail on the backstory. He establishes that the Egyptian pantheon overtook the other pantheons, but doesn't really go into how they did it. I feel that could have made this story a whole lot richer. It would, likely, have effectively doubled the length of the book, but I wouldn't have minded reading how each god took influence over a segment of the world, or how they actually defeated the other gods. If there is one thing about the world that we know for sure, people don't give up on their beliefs easily. I'd liked to have seen how the gods made the people switch from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and all of the other faiths to belief in just them.

Even with this minor fault, I highly recommend this book. It was a great read, and I was able to fly through a hundred or more pages in one sitting by how engrossed I was in it.

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07/08/2012 page 25
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