RIVER GOD by Wilbur Smith


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 Smith's 23rd doorstopper--nearly all of them about South Africa (Elephant Song, Golden Fox, etc.)--gallops swiftly through the action and flying blood his fans have come to relish, though for the first time Smith sets his story in Egypt 2,000 years before Christ. Readers hoping for descriptive riches on the order of Norman Mailer's Ancient Evenings will quickly find their hopes flattened by the banal style and fountaining clichÇs here, which give only a faint sense of the domestic particulars of daily life in those days, and will haave to satisfy themselves with Smith's sheer storytelling. At the start, Smith's narrator is the 30-year-old eunuch Taita, chief slave of Lostris, the 14-year-old daughter of Lord Intef. Lostris's breasts are ``the size and shape of ripe figs just ready for plucking, and tipped with rose garnets,'' while she has ``the neatest, tightest pair of buttocks in all Egypt.'' Lostris is beloved of young warrior Tanus, whose bow is so stiff only he can draw it and then loose three arrows before the first has landed. These matters once in place, the story will spread over three decades, during which Taita, Tanus, and Lostris put up with the machinations of her father, My Lord Intef, who is Grand Vizier; Lostris marries the Pharaoh; Tanus becomes supreme commander of the armies and battles the Hyksos invaders; he and Lostris have a moment of madness in the tombs of Tras as Tanus sires Memnon; the Pharaoh dies in battle, Lostris becomes queen, Tanus loses a major battle against the Hyksos and then his life to the magical blue sword that can pierce any soft bronze sword or shield; Memnon becomes pharaoh and Lostris dies. Brightly colored, sweeping escapism. (First printing of 150,000)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-312-10612-2
Page count: 544pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 1993


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