Synopses & Reviews
After two hundred years of occupation, the Hyksos leader in his capital in northern Egypt tells Pharaoh in the south that the roaring of the sacred hippopotami at Thebes is keeping him awake at night and demands that they be killed, galvanizing Egypt into hurling its armies into a struggle to drive the barbarians from its sacred soil forever. In battle scenes that pit chariot against chariot and doughty swordsman against doughty swordsman, and through his sensitive portrait of Ahmose, the young pharaoh whose genius brings this epic to its climax, Naguib Mahfouz dramatically depicts the Egyptian people's undying loyalty to their land and religion and their refusal to bow to outside domination. But this is not just a tale of ancient, clashing armies. When Mahfouz was writing this novel in 1937-38, other outsiders, British and Turkish, held sway over the land of Egypt, and its inhabitants were engaged in a struggle against a foreign usurpation of their sovereignty that mirrored that of their ancestors. Nor is the novel simply a tale of men and arms, for, as Ahmose discovers, while the Nile flows majestically on forever, the violent currents of politics may pull hearts asunder, and in gaining a kingdom, a man may lose what his soul most craves.