Is Ahmose’s divine gift a blessing or a curse?
The second daughter of the Pharaoh, Ahmose has always dreamed of a quiet life as a priestess, serving Egypt’s gods, ministering to the people of the Two Lands. But when the Pharaoh dies without an heir, she is given instead as Great Royal Wife to the new king – a soldier of common birth. For Ahmose is god-chosen, gifted with the ability to read dreams, and it is her connection to the gods which ensures the new Pharaoh his right to rule.
Ahmose’s elder sister Mutnofret has been raised to expect the privileged station of Great Royal Wife; her rage at being displaced cannot be soothed. As Ahmose fights the currents of Egypt’s politics and Mutnofret’s vengeful anger, her youth and inexperience carry her beyond her depth and into the realm of sacrilege.
To right her wrongs and save Egypt from the gods’ wrath, Ahmose must face her most visceral fear: bearing an heir. But the gods of Egypt are exacting, and even her sacrifice may not be enough to restore the Two Lands to safety.
The Sekhmet Bed is the first volume of Libbie Hawker’s series The She-King, a family saga of the Thutmosides, one of ancient Egypt’s most fascinating royal families. Don’t miss Book 2: The Crook and Flail
Note: This ebook edition contains a preview chapter of Libbie Hawker’s new ancient Egyptian series, The Book of Coming Forth by Day.Amazon.com
I first stumbled across this author with the book, “Take Off Your Pants,” a book about how to outline your novel. The writing was succinct and I’ve been using the author’s suggestions. You can read my review of that book HERE.
However, Hawker is a historian, and she loves historical details which lead us to “The Sekhmet Bed,” which is set in ancient Egypt. This is the story of Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s mother. Although, on the author’s own admission, the tale is fictional. Nevertheless, the characters are unforgettable.
The book begins with our young protagonist, Ahmose, ‘chose of the gods’ who is the second daughter of the pharaoh. Her sole desire is to become a temple priestess.
However, after her father’s death, she realizes that her dream will never be fulfilled. Instead, her mother informs her she is to be the Great Royal Wife to Tuthmose, bypassing her older sister, Mutnofret.
Now, the younger Ahmose becomes locked in a competition with her older sister, who Tuthmose chooses as the royal concubine. This sets up the tension that flows through the rest of the novel.
Because of her age, Ahmose is unprepared to be queen. Tuthmose recognizes that Ahmose is just a child, and he turns to Mutnofret to produce his heirs.
Eventually, as Ahmose grows into a woman, she realizes the only way she can hold on to her power as the queen is to produce the next pharaoh.
Hawker does a deep character dive into Ahmose’s psyche. We watch her grow from a child into a woman. Yet, for someone so devoted to her religious beliefs, she struggles to keep herself in line. Like a teenager, her irrational thoughts and behavior keep her in constant trouble.
What I found most striking was how easy it became for Ahmose to commit ruthless acts to betray those she loved to fulfill her own ambitions. The family suffers because of her choices.
This novel is full of sibling rivalry and political intrigue sprinkled with the right amount of romance to keep the reader guessing all the way through. I couldn’t put this book down. I look forward to reading the rest of the books in the series.
“The Sekhmet Bed” is the first volume of Libbie Hawker’s series the She-King, a family saga of the Thutmosides, one of ancient Egypt’s most fascinating royal families. Book 2: The Crook and Flail, Book 3: Sovereign of Stars, Book 4: The Bull of Min.
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Libbie Hawker writes historical and literary fiction featuring complex characters and rich details of time and place. She lives in the San Juan Islands of Washington State, but has previously lived in Seattle; Bellingham, WA; Tacoma, WA; and Salt Lake City, Utah.Amazon Author Page: Libbie Hawker
Although the majority of her books are self-published, she also partners with Lake Union Publishing on select titles.
She has held a broad and bizarre range of “day jobs” while pursuing a career as a novelist. Included among these are zoo keeper, show dog handler, bookseller, and yarn dyer.
Libbie’s writerly influences are varied, and include Hilary Mantel, Vladimir Nabokov, Annie Dillard, Michael Ondaatje, George R. R. Martin, songwriter Neko Case, and mixed-media storyteller Chris Onstad, among others.
Blog: Olivia Hawker/Libby Hawker: Hawkerbooks.com
Facebook Page: Libbie Hawker & L. M. Ironside
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