on June 13, 2004
In the fourth volume of the five-volume Ramses series, Asha, the king's Secretary of State and childhood friend travels to Hatti with a peace proposal only to be caught up in a vicious power struggle to which Asha and Egypt could be the big losers. It would take much cunning to pull this off. Meanwhile, the king's brother, Shanaar, is still plotting against the king in Nubia where he lures the king into a trap that threatens the life of the Pharaoh. Only a miracle can save him. As if all this wasn't enough, Moses, Ramses boyhood friend, is threatening to take all the Hebrews out of Egypt as commanded by Yahweh. When Ramses refuses Egypt is hit with ten plagues until Ramses relents and expels Moses from Egypt.
Throughout the struggles of the now middle aged king brews an ever deepening love affair between Ramses and Nefertari, the Great Royal Consort. Ramses dedicates a great temple to her in the sacred land of Abu Simbel, which was to be her lasting tribute. So close are the king and queen that to get at Ramses Nefertari was a frequent target as was Ka, the king's oldest son.
I only give this book three stars because, even though it is written in the direct and fast-paced nature of his other books, the treatment of Moses troubled me. The true relationship between Moses and the pharaoh may never truly be known but Moses was portrayed as mad and wicked; which I find to difficult to believe. In the Ramses series, Christian Jacq has him in league with Ofir, the Hittite spy and sorcerer. Furthermore, Ofir suggests and may have been responsible for some of those plagues, thus undermining the role of God in all this.
on July 28, 2005
Christian Jacq has brought out a series of five novels detailing the life of Ramses II, one of his role models. The series largely fails as a historical novel series. Firstly, it is inaccurate historically. Yes, this can be OK in many cases, but here it is a deliberate mish-mash of historical figures and chronologies where Ramses II rubs shoulders with Moses, Menelaus, Homer etc etc. (although Moses is the most likely to be an actual contemporary, this still seems like hacking together people and events). As for entertainment value, it is interesting in the way that extremely light writing with implausible plotlines is a quick read as it doesn't require much concentration and doesn't wear you out. However, there is much better writing out there (both literary and "light") - here, I found the dialogue to be especially unreal.
Jacq does mythologise Egypt with the sacred mysteries and magic of the priests being real. He also does a lot to make the whole setting come alive, which is the biggest strength of the series. But this could all be done without the several ridiculous aspects of the books.
In this, the fourth book, the Exodus of the Hebrews is finally described. It differs much from both the Biblical and contemporary historical accounts, but is not novel enough I don't think, to justify the rearrangement of history. There are also developments in the diplomacy between the Egyptian, Hittite and Assyrian kingdoms and Ramses decides to build Abu Simbel - a monument to his love for his sick wife.
A decent series if there's nothing better to read and it will increase your interest in Egypt, but there IS something better to read in terms of almost all the aspects of the series.
on June 25, 2015
The series combines history, mythology, and some author's liberties with both, but the series is addictive to read. Just read it as fiction, and it's a fun and easy read. I read all 5 books within about one week.
on July 3, 2011
This is the fourth in a five part series that really manages to blend history and full-blown fiction. Jacq's Egypt comes alive and jumps off the page, stealing you away to a world where magic might just be real and all those dry history stores come to life. I was really surprised at who "the good guys" and "the bad guys" turned out to be, and found myself really feeling for the characters in the pages. I highly recommend reading the series in order - you might just catch yourself rereading it, like I did ... wow, I just realized how cheezy that all sounds, but they really are great books.
on August 29, 2000
This is a really nice collection. I enjoyed it very much. It is so very well researched in both historical and religious terms. Jacq was largely very faithful to historical facts. He made one enormous assumption with no historical backing whatsoever, that Ramses II was King of Egypt during the time of Moses. His history of Moses and the events of his life resemble those told in the bible and Quran, but in a secular fashion. The story does go on, but then again the man did rule Egypt for a very long and eventful period. There are indeed several cardboard like people in the book, very one dimensional and therefore very predictable. If you like history, suspense, lots of action, this is a great collection, enjoy it. If you are planning a Nile Cruise, or have just been on one, you must buy this.
on December 8, 2013
At school one of my favourite poems was Percy Bysshe Shelly's "Ozymandias". Consequently I have always had a deep interest in Ramses. The five volumes of this series has been fascinating reading and Christian Jacq, an acknowledged expert of this historical region, has brought the era alive with his detailed descriptions of the life style of the time as he weaves his fictional story based on the times when this biblical character ruled Egypt.
on May 19, 2013
The writing has gotten a bit stilted after the 4th book. Too much repetition of describing Homer's pipe and his cat or Nefertari's beauty of Iset the Fair or Shaanar and his moon face. However I could overlook all that because I thought that Ramses was such a great character, what I am having a hard time swallowing is the alleged "Exodus" of the Hebrews from Egypt there is just no historical evidence that such an event ever occurred and no historical evidence that a man named Moses ever existed. If Jacq is using the biblical account as his basis it never mentions in the bible which Pharaoh was on the throne at the time of the exodus. However Moses as a villain is excellent especially since he seems to be in league with Ofir. All in all however I would give this book 3 stars just because it held my interest, even if the whole exodus story irritated me. I must say I'm getting a little tired of the intrigues that continue and the bad guys never seem to get caught but perhaps that happens in the 5th book, which I haven't started yet.
on June 4, 2012
After having been recommended this series I read the first book in two days. Having been bothered by, what I understand as, the historical inaccuracy I still found myself wanting to know what would happen. Thus I read the first three books which all centered around some major event in the life of Ramses. However, the fourth book did not really revolve around anything that kept your attention. The hittites were a problem and Moses did cause a stir but this was not very interesting at all.. also, the constant plotting against ramses by Shanaar and his friends was also becoming very tedious as this just kept on going doing the same thing over and over again. it felt as if they were there just for Jacq to be able to have something to write about.
With these weak plots and sub-plots the book became boring as the characters were throughout the series very one-dimensional and not enough to carry the plot. over all the books felt machine made. as if Jacq thought that he had made a cpl of characters and ramses life to base the stories upon, why not make the most of it? the books are short and almost exactly the same length. like some other review said, book four could have been made into two chapters at the end of book three.
book one and two had a strong story in who would be king of the two brothers and later the coronation of ramses and his brother plotting against him. in book three I just want to read about the war with the hittites and the battle of kadesh but I already start to get bored. by book four almost nothing happens and his brother is STILL trying to plot against ramses after years and years, just repetition but a more unlikely one as Ramses is now considered an invincible god by this point. and to add to this, I can't find any proof that Shanaar even EXISTED. Ramses eventually conveniently orders his name to be erased from the records. a smart way to be able to invent any story and character you want in historical fiction, right?
In short, I don't think I have ever read four books of a series to then stop reading it. however, by book three, mainly book four, the plot is so repetitive and tedious that it breaks the backs of the one-dimensional characters with which I was uptil then willing to endure.
on June 7, 2011
This book opens in the middle of the protracted battles with the Hittites. Ramses, with his lion, Invincible, and his army, attacks some rebellious Canaanites and brings them back into the Egyptian fold. There are multiple battles throughout the book, plots, domestic and foreign, to unseat Ramses, but he is always prepared. Moses is presented as a leader of the Hebrews who is rather zealous and unreasonable. The story of the plagues is retold as a failed public relations attempt to spin natural phenomena:
"Aaron stretched out his staff and declared loudly, 'Since Pharaoh still refuses to allow the Hebrews to leave Egypt, here, after the water that changed into blood, is the second plague Yahveh inflicts on the oppressor: Frogs, thousands of frogs, millions of frogs, which will go everywhere, into the workshops, the houses, the bedchambers of the wealthy!"...
"Satau smiled. Neither he nor Kha would have to do anything to combat this plague. Aaron should have consulted Moses before uttering a curse which wouldn't frighten a single Egyptian. At this time of year, the frogs' proliferation was quite normal - in fact, the people considered it a good omen. In hieroglyphs, the sign of the frog served to indicate the figure 'a hundred thousand', that is, an almost incalculable number, proportional to the abundance brought by the Nile flood." (pg. 299)
This reinterpretation of the Hebrew story is quite interesting and made me wonder whether there is good reason to believe that this was in fact the Egyptian perspective on events.
However, Jacq's portrayal of Ramses not just as the representative of the Gods, but as a God, with no human failings quickly makes any historical accuracy questionable. Ramses is although not monogomous only capable of loving one woman. IN UTWA Ramses states that, "The Royal Children - those are simply honorary titles" (pg. 24). Yes, although Ramses had two wives, and a harem, he only had three children, and all those historical records documenting his progeny actually refer to the official titles bestowed on them rather than to any genetic relationship. Ramses only love was Nefertari, who dies at the conclusion of the book.
Sure, this all sounds very likely and in line with human nature. Only readable if you are willing to suspend disbelief.
on December 13, 1998
I have read all 4 English translations and I absolutely love this series. I just finshed "Lady" today, and I think that Jacq really paints a wonderful fictional picture of intrigue, romance and in this edition, sorrow. Ramses undergoes a great deal of hardship. I think that the Exodus could have been explained much better and that the ending did not provide much insight into the final edition, but overall, this has been an excellent work. I recommend the series for the avid Egyptologist, or someone jus looking for a an exciting, quick read.