THE SHEPHERD KINGS
Forge, Dec 2001, 18.95, 512 pp.
Though considered barbarians, the Retenu through cleverness and superior transportation (horse driven chariots) conquer the Lower Kingdom of Egypt. Surprisingly, their Goddess Mare selects an Egyptian slave Iry as her priestess. Many of the Retenu are shocked by what seems as heresy by one of their most powerful Goddesses.
At about the same time, Iry's cousin Kemni, who suffers from visions, foresees an alliance that could free Egypt from the Retenu. He obtains an ally in the seafaring Kingdom of Crete to help liberate his people from bondage. Meanwhile Iry and Retenu Lord Khayan fall in love, but war is inevitable, leaving Khayan in a bind and must choose between love and duty.
THE SHEPHERD KINGS is an ancient work of historical fiction that is clearly written for those readers who want a closer look at the times especially what is obviously the Hyksos. For most readers, the story line switches gear too often, going from a fast paced action packed thriller to a long drawn out character discussion of “modern” times thus in many ways stripping the plot's horse power. The romance is clearly designed to bring in that genre readers, but feels more like invaders to the historical fiction fan. Judith Tarr is a talentd author, but tries to do too much, for too many, offering too little.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner