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The Mask Of Ra (1999)

The Mask of Ra (1999)
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3.78 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0747259720 (ISBN13: 9780747259725)
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English
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The Mask Of Ra (1999)
The Mask Of Ra (1999)

About book: Originally published on my blog here in April 2000.Many historical novelists have a period of history for which their writing seems particularly well suited. This is partly because writing a good historical novel involves a good deal of research, so that the background is most convincing when it matches a period of history the author is interested in, understands well, or has already done closely related research for previous novels. When an author moves to a different setting, the novels are often poorly executed. Paul Doherty has concentrated on medieval Europe, a setting which (because he had been a researcher in medieval English history before turning to fiction writing) he already knew well. Occasional works with other backgrounds - seventeenth century France, for example - were not as convincing.Thus, my expectations for a Doherty novel set in the far more alien background of ancient Egypt were not high. However, The Mask of Ra turned out to be well worth reading, and I found this different background almost as convincing as that of Doherty's Hugh Corbett and Brother Athelstan series. Mind you, my knowledge of Egyptian culture is a little sketchy. I occasionally had the feeling that I was being lectured to a little to much, because Doherty expects his readers to find ancient Egypt very different from anything in their experience.The major problem with this novel is that its main characters, Amerotke and his servant Shufoy, are too similar to Hugh Corbett and his servant in both their personalities and relationship to one another. This shows a lack of imagination on Doherty's part, which really should have been avoided, particularly considering that many of the readers of this novel will have read some of the other series.

This is a novel that is really defined by its genre, but given the entirely unique aspect of it, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is an ancient Egyptian murder mystery, taking place in 1479 B.C. and following the chief judge as he investigates the unexpected death of Pharoah Tuthmosis II.It was a short book at a little under 300 pages and fairly simple as far as the story went, but the setting absolutely drew me in to this novel. There was just enough detail to paint a vivid picture of an exotic world and, honestly, it really didn’t need much else. Some of the characters were interesting, such as the lead character Amerotke’s dwarf manservant Shufoy, and the plot unfolded decently, though little was revealed through the first half of the novel. The story took a couple different turns later on, but the way it ended up right back where it started brought it together nicely, and like any good mystery, all the secrets were revealed in the final few pages of the story.To be honest, there really isn’t a lot that particularly shines about this novel, but it was well written enough and the portrayal of the world alone really made it engaging. I highly enjoyed reading it.
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Reviews
Kris
I hate a mystery that isn't really a mystery and courtly intrigue is just everyday affair to me. It felt like about a third of the way into the book Doherty suddenly remembered that this was Hatshepsut, who was so LOATHED by her successor that he systematically destroyed her monuments and erased her name from public eye. Now suddenly he had to have a reason for her to act like a dishrag in the early part of the book so he fell back on the old issue of legitimacy. Overall the world building was wonderful but the story hung pretty flat and the mystery was horribly limp and half the time not really there at all.
Graham
P. C. Doherty is a prolific author of historical murder mysteries and this is the first in a series set in Ancient Egypt. I love these types of story and I was looking forward to getting my teeth into this one.The first half is pretty slow. The locations are nice, and the novel feels a little like a travelogue with plenty of descriptions of exotic locales. The second half picks up a lot. There's a great battle scene and solid research providing a good foundation for the plot.This isn't a great book by any means, but it's entertaining and solid. Fans of this genre ought to have a ball.
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