Lisa's Reviews > The Twice Born

The Twice Born by Pauline Gedge
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's review
Oct 24, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: ancient-egypt-fiction, historical-fiction
Read from July 25 to 30, 2013 , read count: 1

Amenhotep, known as Huy son of Hapu, is an extraordinary figure in Ancient Egyptian history. A scribe, priest, healer, high eventual and eventual god, he was a contemporary of at least four of Egypt's pharaohs, gaining fame and eventual divinity in the court of Amenhotep III. All in all, he remains one of Egypt's most fascinating and mysterious figures.

The Twice Born is the first volume in a trilogy that explores Huy's life, offering one theory as to his rise to being one of the pharaoh's most trusted officials. Merging historical fiction with magical realism, Huy comes to life in the hands of Pauline Gedge, again displaying her considerable skill in recreating a past that feels unbelievably real.

Huy, in Gedge's hand, dies and comes back to life as the chosen of the gods Atum, Anubis and Selket, receiving the gift of foresight and ability to converse with the gods. The Twice Born tells of his education and his struggle with the gifts of the gods.

This isn't a terribly action-driven book, especially compared to the sprawling epic that was The Lords of the Two Lands trilogy, but it still remains (to me, at least) a gripping read, and I get the feeling as the series progresses, we're going to be seeing a fair amount of courtly intrigue.

Looking back at it, parts of The Twice Born feel a bit stereotypical fantasy: peasant-boy from a backwater village is also the Chosen One, but Gedge's Egypt is so grounded in realism and Gedge's Huy well-detailed enough that it doesn't feel like a cliché at all.

Indeed, the magical/fantastical elements are so integrated into the realism of the Egypt Gedge creates that I found it hard to actually notice that what I was reading was anything more than a straight historical fiction novel. That's not a criticism, by the way – very few fantasy writers have the ability to make you believe in the magic of their world, and that Gedge succeeds is a testament to her skill.

I did really like the characterisation of Huy, who isn't likeable at all to begin with, but he does grow into someone more sympathetic and likeable. I liked seeing his reluctance and anger at being made into the tool of the gods and then his acceptance. He might be 'The Chosen One', but he still feels very real and human, and doesn't verge into "so special it makes you want to stab him" territory.

So, basically, The Twice Born is a typical Gedge novel: pretty damn brilliant. I look forward to reading the sequels – but not too much, seeing as though they're only two of her Egyptian historicals I haven't read yet.

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Reading Progress

07/25/2013 marked as: currently-reading
07/30/2013 marked as: read
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