Troubled times for King Tutankhamun, who has to fend off threats from the marauding Hittites against the outlying territories of his empire and rivalry from the priests of the god Amun at home. Lord Meren, the Eyes and Ears of Pharaoh, has enlisted an informer inside the temple of Amun, a priest named Unas who oversees the stores of gold and gems used in a new statue of Tutankhamun. But when Unas takes a conveniently fatal tumble from the scaffolding of the statue, Meren finds even deeper currents of intrigue than he'd suspected. Not only the priests of Amun, but many of the nobles of Pharaoh's own court, are resentful of the misrule of Tutankhamun's late brother, Akhenaten; Meren's investigation in the temple precincts runs into jurisdictional squabbles with the jealous priests; and two more deaths (by a scribe's chest full of cobras, and the blades of hired bandits) confirm Meren's suspicions of murder without telling him which of his old friends he and his adoptive son, Kysen, can trust--or how he can retain the trust of the 14-year- old pharaoh himself. By the time he's uncovered the bold, sinister pattern behind the murders, Meren will be confronting the possible loss of the Egyptian empire. The story's large-scale political background works against the intimacy that made Meren's debut (Murder in the Place of Anubis, 1994) so striking. But this sequel is still a powerfully imagined tonic for readers who say they don't like historical mysteries.