Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hand of Isis by Jo Graham

Jo Graham is now on my list of favorite authors!  I found out about her first novel, Black Ships, at a luncheon for the U.S. launch of Orbit (the largest publisher of scifi/fant in the U.K.) when I was in Boston for a library conference a couple of years ago.  Black Ships is a retelling of the Aeneid.  The narrator of the story, Gull, is a young girl raised as a disciple of the Lady of the Dead.  Her gift for prophecy ensures her destiny as a counselor to kings.  I especially loved the mysticism of the story and her newest book, Hand of Isis, has that same mystical quality on set in Egypt.
In Hand of Isis
Graham tells the story of the great female Pharaoh Cleopatra as
seen through the eyes of her half-sister and handmaiden, Charmian.  This book is just gorgeous!  The descriptions of Alexandria and other areas of Egypt make it seem like Graham hopped in her time machine to do the research for this book.  Everything was so immediate and  of clarity I haven’t read in 
some time.  There are many characters with names unfamiliar to 
this western tongue and mind but I had only a little trouble keeping up with the cast.  There are Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Britons, and Jews among the main characters with tales of Alexander the Great, Moses, Julius Caesar, Horus, Isis, and Osiris sprinkled in for good measure.  If you’ve studied this part of history at all, you will not be surprised by the ending but by telling the story from the point of view of one her handmaidens, Graham avoids having to end the story there.  Several religions make their presences known and it was eye-opening to say the least.  I am now encouraged to further study, though I’m not quite sure where I’ll be able to fit that in J

Romance, intrigue, heartbreak, betrayal, joy, and sacrifice interweave to make one hell of a story! This book will be available March 23, 2009!

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