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Pillar of Fire

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  322 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
Brought in chains as a slave girl to the court of ancient Egypt, Nofret knew intimately the key players in an extraordinary era: The Pharaoh Akhenaten, who defied the ancient Egyptian deities to worship the One True God, and his beautiful queen Nefertiti. Tutankhamon, the young boy-king murdered in a ruthless struggle for power. Johanan, the handsome young Hebrew laborer w ...more
Paperback, 672 pages
Published December 15th 1997 by Tor Books (first published 1995)
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Libbie Hawker (L.M. Ironside)
4.5 stars

Easily Judith Tarr's best book, with rich world-building, a wide array of well-drawn characters, and an impressive plot twist that keeps the reader engaged through the entire length of the novel.

Let me say first that I have long since grown weary of "real Egyptian personages meet characters from the Bible" novels. Authors, either you are writing a novel based on mythology (the Bible) or you are writing a novel based on history (real Egyptians). To shoehorn one into another seems like an
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
3 1/2 - 4 stars

If you need your Exodus story to stick to the Biblical narrative, may I suggest Seven Days to the Sea instead of Pillar of Fire?

But if you don't mind some pretty big liberties taken with the traditional story...

The afterword by the author explains her research and her literary decisions.
This is, perhaps, one of the better Amarna novels, and one of the most satisfying retellings of the Exodus story. The fact that one does not preclude the other is testament to the fine skill Judith Tarr shows in plotting out and writing of Pillar of Fire.

I was reluctant to read this for a long time – I have very little interest in reading about Biblical characters meeting and interacting with real Ancient Egyptians, and even less interest in attempts to equate Biblical characters with real Ancie
Kathy Filardo
Feb 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book was an awesome read, especially once you know the history behind the theories of Akhenaten/Moses and Ankhesenamon/Miriam. I also loved Nofrut--and Johanan. Judith Tarr never disappoints. I also enjoyed her interpretation of King Tut.
Kathleen Mays
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great historical story
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Reads like '80s "historical" fiction. From the late '90s.
Aug 23, 2016 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. The book started well. It is the tale of Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh, and his daughter Ankhesenpaaten, forced into the role of queen too young, as told through the eyes of the queen's foreign servant Nofret. The world building is detailed and the characters ring true. But the later part of the book, dealing with the Moses and the Exodus, is not as good. The pacing becomes slow, the world-building is less clear, and some of the characterisation suffers in service to the plot. Perhap ...more
Started strong with the story of a stubborn slave, determined to defy her masters while keeping herself safe--and serving a princess of Egypt. Full of treachery and madness, the palace is hardly safe for royalty, and the book sweeps along with disaster and intrigue. Towards the end, it begins to founder, with the characters trapped--there's a brief uptick of happiness, then the plot sinks back into circling around, and left me much less engaged all the way to the end, despite the story being tol ...more
Aug 15, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
2.5 stars, rounded to 3 stars

This was a hard book for me to rate. It was better then okay, but it's not one I'd recommend to everyone.

I thought it was an interesting story. I enjoyed some parts of it. However, other parts seemed really long. I learned a lot as I read it. I looked at a map to see where Canaan and Sinai was compared to Egypt. However, with all that I also felt like I had to wade through a lot of nothing to get to the main part of the story.

Kristyn Jensen
Dec 10, 2010 rated it liked it
This book was not what I expected it to be. I've read other books about the reign of Nefertiti, but never one that took it in the direction of this. Shock is the best way to describe it, but the most intiguing part was the author's note where she says that very little had to be changed historically for the story. I loved it!
Jan 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
I listened to the audiobook version. It was very, very, very long. I kept thinking it had to be close to ending soon, but no. It feels like someone trying to write the next great epic but missing the mark. Multiple times I thought about just giving up, but I ended up speeding up the reading pace so I could finally get through it.
Jun 17, 2013 rated it did not like it
An account of the Exodus from the perspective of a Hittite slave woman. Whereas, the storyline is interesting, this kind of book can be very dangerous to people that lack Biblical knowledge in that, this work of fiction could be perceived as fact. Tarr takes a perfect story and corrupts it. Why go there?
Oct 30, 2008 rated it liked it
I am reading at leat 5 novels that circle around the same characters. It is intertesting see how the figures are treated in each novel and even how the plot varies, as to who dies when and how thety do. This is a Hittite slave's veiw of the court of Nefertiti and Ankaten (sp?)
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was the first book in a while that I managed to both get into quickly and savor. The story was interesting and the characters were compelling, although I felt like parts 1 and 2 read better than part 3 which kinda felt like a race to catch up to a story I already knew.
The parts about Egypt were interesting, but they just went on and on (and on), long after I was ready for the plot to move forward. The idea about Moses's identity was interesting, but not developed enough to convince me. I just wanted more from this!
Aug 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Historical Fiction lovers/Biblical Fiction lovers
Shelves: historical, fiction
Judith Tarr is an amazing suck you in author. I couldn't put this book down and many say it's not even among her best. It retells/combines the story of Akenaton and Moses told through the eyes of a slave to the Pharoh.
Enjoyable and ambitious, but GOOD GRIEF this book felt endless.
Katharine Ott
"Pillar of Fire" - written by Judith Tarr and published in 1995 by Forge. A good dose of ancient Egypt.
Nov 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
My favorite Judith Tarr book. Detailed epic of egyptian historical fiction. Well developed characters and well-paced plot.
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
Interesting take on the Moses story
Jun 05, 2013 rated it liked it
This was a very enjoyable and reimagining of the Moses/Exodus story making creative use of the archeological evidence.
Matt Howard
Apr 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
A great way to pass a cold winter evening, but not great literature.
rated it it was amazing
Aug 07, 2013
Mindy Tallman
rated it liked it
Jan 17, 2008
rated it really liked it
Oct 18, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Apr 16, 2015
rated it liked it
Dec 17, 2012
Joebob Long
rated it it was amazing
May 07, 2016
Elizabeth Perez
rated it really liked it
Sep 23, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Feb 13, 2009
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AKA Caitlin Brennan, Kathleen Bryan.

Judith Tarr (born 1955) is an American author, best known for her fantasy books. She received her B.A. in Latin and English from Mount Holyoke College in 1976, and has an M.A. in Classics from Cambridge University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from Yale University. She taught Latin and writing at Wesleyan University from 1988-1992, and taught at the
More about Judith Tarr

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