Sunday, December 9, 2012

Child of the Morning by Pauline Gedge

Rating 4/5

Child of the Morning is my first novel set in historical Egypt (unless you count The Queen of the Damned, which I don't), and I have no idea how historically accurate it is. It doesn't matter, really. This book was more or less what I expected, full of rich detail and well-written. (Though I don't understand Gedge's use of the word "dull", which she always pairs with antonyms like "gleaming", "sparkling", and "shining" to describe Hatshepsut's adornments).

This book had a slow pace, which fit well with the setting and decades-long scope of the story. There were a lot of day-to-day details that might well have gotten tedious in less skilled hands, but Gedge was able to keep my interest. The story did not become truly compelling until the half-way point, after which I did not want to put the book down. Having said this, I did also enjoy the first half.

Hatshepsut is an intriguing character, but difficult to relate to. She's royal, arrogant, beautiful, good at everything she sets her mind to, and has a fierce belief in herself. Everyone in the book loved her from childhood on, but it took a long while for me to really warm to her and root for her. Eventually, though, I came to feel great sympathy for her, and experienced her hopes, frustrations, joys and sorrows along with her. In the end I was close to rage at her undeserved losses, and broken-hearted by her tragedy. And of course I have to note how much I seethe at stories of great people (fictional or no) who are not allowed to fulfil their potential just because they happen to be women.

All in all, an excellent book. I really enjoyed the author's writing style and attention to detail. She created a strong, passionate main character and filled her world with interesting friends and enemies, gods and temples, intrigue and emotion. I look forward to reading more of Gedge's books.

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