Four years into Akhenaten’s new regime, the dissatisfaction of those who practiced the old religion of Amen-Ra is growing. Hani, a diplomat already under the king’s surveillance because of the disappearance of his firebrand Amen priest brother-in-law, gets drawn into an investigation for the Beloved Royal Wife, who is being blackmailed. Meanwhile, the new vassal king of A’amu, lodged at Hani’s house until the king grants him an audience, is showing himself to be none too loyal. Hani must walk the line between his oath to the king and his conscience.
Targeted Age Group:: adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I started the series by showing Hani, a real personage, involved in historical events known about his life as an ancient Egyptian diplomat. But I wanted the second book to show a little more of his family life.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Hani and many of the characters (including Akhenaten and his wives) are real historical personages. Once I had Hani fixed in my mind as a man devoted to his family, I created family members that seemed appropriate and offered opportunity for continuing in the series. This in addition to the usual mystery plot.
All at once, Hani was conscious of a rush of bare footsteps and a swirl of skirt bearing down on him. He dragged his eyes away from the letter to see that Neferet, his youngest, had approached with her usual impetuosity and was standing in front of him, hands on hips.
“What can I do for you, my love?” he said, smiling at the sight of her dressed like a young lady, her child’s sidelock transmuted into the tiny braids of maidenhood. I can’t believe it. The last of our children, almost grown.
“I’ve decided something, Papa,” she said earnestly and seated herself on the floor beside him, pulling up her skirt to cross her legs with greater ease. At thirteen, she was still the stocky, broad-shouldered little hoyden he loved, despite the dress. “I’ve decided I want to be a physician—a sunet.”
“Is this something new? I don’t believe you’ve ever mentioned it.”
“I thought you wanted to be a horse,” said Maya with a straight face. Hani tried not to laugh.
Neferet shook her head impatiently, sending her braids flying. “Oh, that was when I was a little girl. I mean, I did want to be a chantress of Amen, but…” She shrugged, with an eloquent lift of the eyebrows.
Although the impossibility of serving the Hidden One these days was a serious matter, Hani smiled nonetheless, because Neferet took after his side of the family and couldn’t carry a tune. Neither was she especially lissome, should she be inclined to serve as a temple dancer. Her dance style had about it more enthusiasm than grace, her father thought tenderly—unlike her two sisters.
“Why, that’s a noble aspiration, my dear. You’ll have to study hard. Perhaps the priests of Sekhmet at Sau have a school that accepts girls.”
“I’m smart. I’m smarter than Pa-kiki. Do I have to know how to read and write?”
“I honestly don’t know. Most doctors seem to, but I’m not aware of any women in the scribal schools, so maybe women physicians don’t.”
“We could teach you, couldn’t we, my lord?” offered Maya with a glance at his father-in-law. “You wouldn’t need to know the formal Speech of the Gods, just script.”
She set her elbow on her knee and propped her chin on her fist, staring first at Maya then at her father. “I wonder if there are doctors who take care of animals.”
“I can’t imagine there aren’t,” Hani said, recalling his days as an army scribe. “The king’s fancy chariot horses certainly had a doctor.” He cocked an eyebrow at her. “But in the army, they’re all men.”
Neferet nodded pensively. “What about cats and pet herons?”
Hani was so overcome with affection for this suddenly serious girl that he reached out and tugged her braids with a smile. “I don’t know. You could start a whole new specialization. Be the first heron doctor.”
“I could.” She got to her feet, seemingly unaware, or untroubled, that her skirt was caught up in the crack of her buttocks. “Let me go talk to Qenyt and see what she thinks about it.”
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