Susan's Reviews > Hand of Isis

Hand of Isis by Jo Graham
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Jo Graham's Hand of Isis is a story of ancient Egypt as seen through the eyes of Charmain, a young handmaiden and half-sister to Cleopatra. Exiled into the Black Lands as girls, Charmain, Cleopatra, and a third sister named Iras, devote themselves to the goddess Isis, vowing to be her hands and avatars on earth, and to love and protect the people of Egypt. Isis rewards the girls for their devotion by setting into motion the events leading to Cleopatra becoming Queen, while Iras and Charmain remain Cleopatra's most trusted handmaidens and mistresses of her home. Hand of Isis chronicles the lives of the three sisters while as stewards of the land of Egypt and her people, they interact with various other key figures of ancient history such as Julius Caesar and Marcus Antonius.

Hand of Isis was not a "can't-put-it-down" read for me in the beginning, but once I gave it a little time, I quickly fell in love with it. The story is told as Charmain recounts her past deeds to Isis and Osiris in the Halls of Amenti. Charmain has come to Amenti to have her heart weighed against the feather of Ma'at to see if she may enter the afterlife, or if she will be judged as evil and her heart devoured by the demon Ammut. As she tells her story, the reader is devastated by Charmain's losses and cheered by her devotion to her sisters and Isis. It is impossible not to be emotionally connected to the characters in this enjoyable novel.

Hand of Isis is a highly-readable account that offers a fresh perspective to the history and legend of Cleopatra. The mystery of ancient Egypt comes to vivid life through Jo Graham's imagination. The details of the ancient world are dazzling and fantastic, making for a compelling and entertaining story. Hand of Isis is an inspired mixture of intrigue, mystery, and romance, liable to delight most fans of historical fiction.

Just one further note:
When I picked up Hand of Isis, I did not realize that Jo Graham had previously written another novel of the ancient world, Black Ships. While Hand of Isis is not really a sequel, it does contain characters which are the reincarnated souls of characters from Black Ships. I don't think I lost anything in not reading them in the order they were published, but you may want to pick up Black Ships first - I would have if I had known, but I fully intend to rectify this situation just as soon as some other excellent patron of the Fort Bend County Library System returns the only copy.
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06/12/2009 page 100
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