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Before the Throne Paperback – July 3, 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Mahfouz is a storyteller of the first order in any idiom.” —Vanity Fair

About the Author

Naguib Mahfouz was born in 1911 in Cairo and began writing at the age of seventeen. His first novel was published in 1939 and he went on to write nearly forty novel-length works and hundreds of short stories. In 1988 Mahfouz was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 2006.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (July 3, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307742563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307742568
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,735,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Spencer Case on January 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
In some ways the worst kind of book is the kind that wastes a great idea. I wouldn't expect such a book to come from the pen of a Nobel Prize winner, but so it has.

The great idea is to write a novel organized around the afterlife trials of Egyptian rulers, from King Menes down to Anwar Sadat. This takes place in the Court of Osiris. Each defendant is allowed to speak for themselves, then Osiris challenges them on certain points. Isis delivers the judgment, and acts more like a defender than a prosecutor. The outcome determines the eternal destiny of each ruler: will it be immortality, perdition, or hell?

I was intrigued by the opening chapter about King Menes, but the book quickly became monotonous. Rather than stick with a few fleshed-out examples, Mahfouz throws out one king after another, many of them are close to indistinguishable. The description of their actions is quite plain, resembling the first paragraph of a Wikipedia article. The trial proceeds based on this snippet of information from the scribe, but then sometimes someone in the court will suddenly know more about the defendant, so it raises the question just what is the point of the scribe anyway?

One missed opportunity is that there are no witnesses called. That could make things more interesting! Let's hear from one of the soldiers in King Menes' army to see if he saw his death as being for the greater good of the country!

I was also quite frustrated by the poor judgments, and downright inconsistencies shown by the rulings. The Pharaohs are war mongers and whore mongers and they parrot these lame lines about "it was for the glory of Egypt" and get let off with verbal chastisements. And not only the war mongers are rewarded, but the pacifistic Akhenatan as well!
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Format: Paperback
It is worth reading this book, because while the trial is going on the reader is able to learn some pieces of Egyptian history, It is important the view of the person who perform the act and those who give the opinion later with another context to judge.
Is valuable not only to analyse Egyptian history and evolution but also to understand the movements that Egypt is undergoing. For outsiders this history-fictional work is revealing
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