An intelligently constructed and exciting peek into the distant past.


In this historical thriller, three Americans find themselves transported to ancient Egypt and thrust into the political intrigue of the day. 

Tim Hope is an American tourist trekking through Egypt forlornly, anguished over the death of his fiancee. Two Americans he’s befriended wander off to explore the Tomb of Kanakht and mysteriously disappear. Concerned for their safety, Tim searches for the couple, Brian Aldwin and Diane Maclaine, but instead unwittingly steps through some sort of portal and travels back in time 5,000 years to an Egypt before the pyramids and the age of Moses. Tim discovers that Brian and Diane stumbled into the portal as well, and all three are suspected by some to be gods, a perception reinforced by heroic deeds performed by Brian and Tim. Problematically, the world they now inhabit, Kemet or The Two Lands, is rife with intramural conflict. After suffering seven years of a devastating famine, King Djoser’s reign is threatened by secret rivals, including those close to him who claim loyalty. Further, Tim’s and Brian’s lives are menaced by political forces that fear their popularity with the people, the consequence of feats of bravery and compassion. Tim, adopting the name and role of a famous architect and adviser to the king, Imhotep, risks his life to properly direct the course of history. Meanwhile, all three Americans are drawn to this unfamiliar way of life and have to decide if they wish to remain indefinitely or—if they can figure out how—return to the future. This is the first installment of a four-part series by Dubs (Vagabond Retirement, 2017, etc.). While the undergirding premise of the plot is wildly fantastical, the author has a peculiar talent for rendering the implausible in credible terms. In addition, the depiction of ancient Egypt is masterfully executed, both authentic and accessible, with the narrative including Tim’s descriptions of the landscape (“He saw in the distance the green of the Nile’s valley, richer and darker and fuller than he remembered it. And along the river, rising from its banks he saw a city of mud brick homes surrounded by a thick white wall: The long-dead city that Tim knew as Memphis”). But the real draw of the book is its characters, especially Tim, drawn in lushly substantive terms. 

An intelligently constructed and exciting peek into the distant past.

Pub Date: Dec. 20, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5190-7028-9

Page Count: 444

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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