- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (July 17, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1448652685
- ISBN-13: 978-1448652686
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #729,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Truth is the Soul of the Sun - A Biographical Novel of Hatshepsut-Maatkare Paperback – July 17, 2009
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Truth is the Soul of the Sun, Maria Isabel Pita's historical novel about Hatshepsut, follows her subject from childhood to twenty years of ruling as Pharaoh Hatshepsut-Maatkare and includes a cast of hundreds along the way. In less adept hands, such a profusion of detail would almost certainly prove deadly (several highly publicized historical fiction tomes of the last few years come to mind), but Pita has a consummate storyteller's skill for pacing and as a result, this long novel is an absorbing reading experience. It's a tribute to Pita's skills that Hatshepsut herself ends up towering over all other characters in this novel. The decision to follow her through every trial over years bears fruit. Readers will close the book feeling they've known this remarkable woman. Highly recommended. --Steve Donaghue for The Historical Novel Society
About the Author
Maria Isabel Pita was born in Havana, Cuba, but grew up in Fairfax, Virginia. Reading, writing and history have been her abiding passions ever since she can remember. In college she majored in World History and minored in English Literature and Cultural Anthropology. Maria is a member of the International Association For the Study of Dreams, and a regular contributor to the Lucid Dreaming Experience Magazine. Maria's most recent works are the non-fiction "Lucid Dreams and the Holy Spirit"; the Biblical Romance "Dreaming in Egypt-The Story of Aseanth and Joseph"; and "Truth is the Soul of the Sun-A Biographical Novel of Hatshepsut-Maatkare - Revised Second Edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
On one level, this is a spiritual, intellectual and political adventure story, about how Hatshepsut unexpectedly became possibly the most powerful head-of-state of her time. On another level, the novel is a work of anthropological fiction, in which the invented details of the story are used to describe the culture of ancient Egypt. That culture is rich (in all senses of the term), complex and subtle, and the author handles its exposition skillfully. This is not a "snapshot" of ancient Egypt, but rather a richly-formed evocation of what is for all of us an alternate universe, complete with details of landscape and material culture, a complex economy and a distinct way of life, in a lost world and a distant civilization.
I found myself taking a leisurely time reading this novel, because I enjoyed lingering over and rereading so much of it. Partly that was because the Egyptian world view as elaborated in this book is so alien to our own that I wanted to immerse myself in it, just for the joy of discovery, as when learning a new language. Beyond that, the writing is frequently and strikingly poetic. The book's very title, which the author explains in her introductory notes, is itself an example of that. The narrative is filled with imaginative moments that often made me stop in my tracks and be fascinated by the words themselves. Some examples, among many, include: "The pyramid's gleaming point sent long, luminous arms directly into her squinting eyes and she felt it silently telling her something wonderful."....or: "She was not at all nervous about leaving home because everyone who lived in her heart was going with her."....or: "The mountain became a closed door locked by magic."
It must have taken a great amount of work and, really, faith to produce Truth is the Soul of the Sun. Beyond the wide reading on Egyptian antiquities that this surely involved, there was also the crafting of all that information into a story that demanded narrative and drama, and the challenge of imagining this world in multiple dimensions and describing it in terms of human experience and events. That the author seems to accomplish this almost casually is itself a compliment to her art and ability.
One reviewer, who was otherwise appreciative, commented that the novel was "slow moving" and did not possess enough sturm und drang. My counter-argument is that the novel is relatively realistic in that most people most of the time live lives of significance without formulaic drama, and that a good story can still be thoughtful and focused on the less violent challenges that life throws at us all every day. One of the aspects of this book that I enjoyed was its constant exploration of significance in the normal and its sense of the magic of ordinary life, even in life lived by a monarch.
There are books one reads quickly, mostly to be mildly amused and to get to the end to find out "what happened." This is not one of them. This one is worth a much more reflective approach, and is more like a journey with an unknown end than a fast read. I enjoyed reading this book like I enjoy travelling, stopping at suddenly-discovered points to look at and linger over something strange and marvelous without regard to schedule. I recommend this book for other "travellers" who wish from the books they read not so much to be amused as to be amazed and delighted by a trip to another world. All I can judge a book on is how successfully it intrigues me and gets me out of my own head and into another realm for a short while. That's why I'm rating this particular book with five stars. The author has a talent for creating alternate worlds for a reader to explore, and that aspect of Truth is the Soul of the Sun, among others, puts it way ahead of most works of fiction.
This book brings Hatshepsut's world to life; the culture, religion and architecture of ancient Egypt surround the reader, who is given an intimate glimpse into the daily lives of the royal court. Even though much is yet to be learned about Hatshepsut's life, Maria Isabel Pita uses her knowledge of Egyptian history to weave the facts together with just enough fancy to transform an ancient sculpture into a living, breathing woman.
Before I purchased this book, I was a little intimidated that several reviews warned about difficulty keeping track of all the names/characters. The book begins with a guide listing the name and relation and/or official title of each character. I SKIPPED THE GUIDE COMPLETELY and simply began reading the book- and I had NO trouble keeping track of anyone. Once I had FINISHED the book, I went back and looked at the name guide. If I had read the name guide FIRST, I would have been under the impression that the book would make no sense unless I first memorized all of that information, which is not the case at all.
A Note on Earlier Reviews:
One review asks "what language is Mami?" Ignore that. Mami is the ancient equivalent of Mommy. It's not a LANGUAGE- it's what Egyptian children called their mothers.
One reviewer says he/she "scanned the book" and found that's "it's nothing but pornography." That is NOT true. I've just finished READING the ENTIRE book- there may be 3-4 sex-related passages. If that constitutes pornography, "romance novels" would only be available in adult bookstores.
As I listened, I wished I lived further from work than my current commute, as I did not want to leave the story behind while at work, or even after a long day at work after driving home. While some of the story can be a bit confusing for those not already well-versed in Egyptian history, the author expertly weaves the facts of this great dynasty with the satisfying yet tragic (at times) life of this very intriguing woman.
I wish there was more to this story, as I yearned for it! Well told!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I went to sunny ancient Egypt while I read.
I love this writer!