Hardcover reprint of Lumley’s early-’80s mass-market paperback, a youthful and super-purple blast of Egyptology, clearly aimed at fans who’ve collected cloth editions of his 13-volume Necroscope vampire epic.
Sheathed in a scarlet shift, her right breast exposed, dark-eyed, raven-haired Ashtarta, sovereign Candace of Kush, is to marry General Khai Ibizin formerly of Khem (to be known as Egypt in coming times). She looks into the magic pool of Yuh-Shesh, hoping to foresee the results of her army’s battle against Kush’s ages-old enemy Khem, ruled by pyramid-building Pharaoh Khasathut. Instead, she sees Khai in some strange place where great birds bear humans aloft in their bellies without eating them, where carts without oxen or horses speed with people in strange and wondrous garb, where giant ships without sails cross the seas. It turns out, when Khai is returned to Ashtarta half-dead, that Pharaoh’s wizards have sent his ka into the future; unless it returns, his body will die. Khai’s old friend General Manek Thotak, who desires Ashtarta for himself, surrenders his ka to be sent by Ashtarta’s wizards into the future to bring back Khai. The wizards bury Ashtarta’s funerary mask with a ring each from Khai and Manek. Manek is supposed to dig up the mask and rings, show them to Khai, and spirit him back to his homeland. In the future, Khai awakes in London as Paul Arnott, whose fellow Egyptologist Wilfred Sommers shows him the funerary mask of Sh’tarra. Khai does return to Kush, with knowledge of future weaponry he puts to use.
Mystic arts! Dark forces! Despite the occasional “greased lightning” clinker, fans will find this classy stuff.