Book Review: A God Against the Gods by Allen Drury (three stars)
“I hope you know what you are doing, Son of the Sun.” “I do, Uncle. And it will be best for all. I, who am living in truth, promise it!”
Why settle for one unreliable narrator when you can have a swarm? Drury projects readers into the minds of a dozen key players to an existential crisis in the Egyptian eighteenth dynasty. The result is confusing and realistic. No one knows and sees all; most are biased and self-serving. Nothing quite so dangerous as believing that you alone know God’s will.
For if Pharaoh himself does not believe in the gods, then what will happen to the land?
A monumental portrait of a controversial historical figure. Plausible, but Drury projects modern (1976) politics and psychology into ancient Egypt. Over long and boring. Drury depends on the reader to know what happened to Akhenaten; he leaves that out of the story.
Together we will be happy and together we will make Kemet happy. I so decree it and it will be so: For I am Akhenaten, he who has lived long, and I will live in truth forever and ever, for millions and millions of years.
I read Mika Waltari’s Sinuhe, the Egyptian several times – and liked it – when I was a kid. I can still remember some of the plot. It made the story very real, probably because the characters were observed from outside, rather than given voices. Of course it is fiction, part of my formation as a novelist (along with so many other books), and at that point I probably didn’t have enough history backing. The narrator was NOT unreliable; those I don’t prefer.
I probably wouldn’t have finished this one.