Steampunk alternate history yarn from the author of A Chance to Remember (2003, etc.) and various nonfiction books about Egypt.
Julius Caesar married Queen Cleopatra, we learn, and founded the Pharoman Empire—although details of how this came about are sadly lacking. Now, in 1877, Pharaoh Djoser-George and his wife, Queen Sashetah Irene, rule much of Europe, Africa and Asia from their capital, Memphis, the only opposition being provided by conspirators Count Otto von Bismarck and Queen Victoria. Much of the empire’s wealth derives from their advanced “radiance technology.” Across the Atlantic, South America is governed by the Incan Empire of Tawantinsuyu, which has grown rich on its command of aeroship technology and whose Quetzal airships are navigated by flocks of highly trained, intelligent birds. Hearing a rumor that the old Incan emperor plans to send a man to the moon, Queen Sashetah Irene foresees, if true, a technological bonanza in which Egypt would want to be involved. So she sends two of her most accomplished spies, Lord Scott Oken, a prince of Albion, and alchemist professor Prince Mikel Mabruke of Nubia, to investigate. Harassed by Black Orchid assassins who may be in league with Bismarck, the pair reaches their destination, is given a warm welcome by Prince Viracocha and confirms the rumors—only to discover that the emperor has been murdered by his heir, Viracocha’s mad brother, Pachacuti. All this unfolds at a stately pace, the lavish details described with care and clarity—neither details nor characters, unfortunately, fascinate as much as the author seems to think—and the narrative, overloaded with titles and trappings, ends up (the sex scenes aside) juvenile in tone and outlook.
Like static electricity: might give you a jolt but won’t keep the lights on.