A perceptive Egyptian eunuch who starred in Smith’s 1994 River God returns, 100 years older and wiser, ready to take on the stinking bitch goddess who has brought ruin to Egypt.
The Egyptian magus Taita, castrated more than a century previously at the peak of his virility, has traveled to the Indian subcontinent with his trusty younger companion, Meren, seeking new wisdom. Undergoing a ghastly operation at the hands of a lady colleague, Taita acquires a handy second sight that lets him see the auras we all throw off, radiances that tell whether we’re straight shooters or lying dogs. On the way back to Egypt, Taita and Meren team up with Demeter, a savant even older and wiser than Taitu, who has a whale of a story for them. It seems that an ancient she-devil, who’s taken the name of Eos, is gunning for them. She’s a liar. She can change herself into anything, and she can suck the goodness right out of you while you are having sex with her. When the two wise men and Meren finally reach Egypt, they find their beloved homeland reeling from the effects of a seven-year drought. The Nile is down to a trickle where nothing lives but giant flesh-eating toads that gobble poor old Demeter, but not before Taita has picked his brains for every scrap of magic wisdom. The drought is the doing of Eos, of course. Taita’s friend the pharaoh sends him and Meren and a small army with orders to travel to the source of the Nile, find Eos and put a stop to the misery. Their journey, told in the breathlessly epic Smith tradition, takes years and costs the lives of hundreds of men and thousands of beasts. Taita runs into some really good magic in Eos’s horrid lair, and finds love with a reincarnated beauty.
A tough slog.