A chance discovery in Syria reveals answers to the mystery of the ancient Egyptian sun-king, the heretic Akhenaten and his beautiful wife Nefertiti. Inscriptions in the tomb of his sister Beketaten, otherwise known as Scarab, tell a story of life and death, intrigue and warfare, in and around the golden court of the kings of the glorious 18th dynasty. The narrative of a yoA chance discovery in Syria reveals answers to the mystery of the ancient Egyptian sun-king, the heretic Akhenaten and his beautiful wife Nefertiti. Inscriptions in the tomb of his sister Beketaten, otherwise known as Scarab, tell a story of life and death, intrigue and warfare, in and around the golden court of the kings of the glorious 18th dynasty. The narrative of a young girl growing up at the centre of momentous events - the abolition of the gods, foreign invasion and the fall of a once-great family - reveals who Tutankhamen's parents really were, what happened to Nefertiti, and other events lost to history in the great destruction that followed the fall of the Aten heresy....
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Scarab: Akhenaten Reviews
I'll give this a middle-of-the-road rating. There are a lot of things to enjoy here, and some things that got in the way of enjoyment.First, the good:Max Overton is a strong writer with a great talent for conveying images clearly to the reader. The balance of exposition, dialogue, and description are perfect, and the descriptive passages are often quite lovely and memorable. Setting is well developed, as are certain characters. I love the idea of showing the rise and fall of Atenism in ancient Egypt through the eyes of Beketaten, a very unassuming character. I felt it could have been done to greater effect (more on that later), but all in all it's an idea with a lot of appeal. Beketaten is a sympathetic character here, orphaned young and stuck into the harem and forgotten about. She's sensitive, quiet, and observant. Given the nickname "Scarab" under somewhat cruel circumstances by Waenre (Akhenaten), the name sticks and follows her around like a curse, and gives the reader a hint of some of the difficulties she'll face as she grows older and becomes a political pawn in her powerful family. The things I didn't like:In a word, the editing.Overton's writing is so great, it really has the potential to be a powerful, exciting book with the help of a lot of judicious editing. There is a lot of unnecessary extra stuff in this book. Every other chapter follows the actual plot of the story -- the goings-on in the royal family as Waenre/Akhenaten and Nefertiti lead the shift from a Waset/Amun-centered state religion to Akhet-Aten and the Aten. Overton's depiction of the events and people involved are quite interesting, and the opportunity to see them unfold through the eyes of intelligent but meek Beketaten is irresistible. However, the action is broken with alternating chapters in the point of view of random characters showing the daily life of all manner of Egyptian citizens. Clearly the author has done a lot of quality research and he's skilled in conveying so many wonderful details of Egyptian life to the reader. But these interludes touch on the actual story only tangentially, and the characters are almost never revisited, so that it feels more like a bombardment or a distraction, albeit a well-written bombardment or distraction.I also would have loved to see the entire Amarna story through Beketaten's perspective, as that was the setup at the beginning of the novel. However, the narrative shifts during the Amarna chapters from Beketaten to other major players such as Ay. Ay is an interesting fellow, but somehow the effect of watching Atenism unfold is not as shocking or intriguing when a confident, powerful man like Ay is the POV, compared to a likeable shrinking violet like Beketaten. To shift the narrative away from her now and then somewhat depleted the power and import of the political transition.I dearly wish for this novel to be re-written, this time sticking to the main plot and leaving off the embellishments of outside stories. It has the potential to be a really great Egyptian historical novel, especially given Overton's strong, descriptive prose. The nice thing about self-publishing is that authors are always free to do a "Take Two."
This book was a great read for the most part. It follows a chaotic point in Ancient Egyptian history as Pharaoh Akhenaten comes to the throne. He is a very different Pharaoh as he only worships one god instead of the hundreds of gods the Egyptians believe rule over their everyday lives. Akhenaten and his beautiful Queen, Nefertiti, manage to overthrow the gods of Egypt during their reign and it creates great strife among the people. I thought the story was going to be told solely by the titular character, Scarab, a sister of Akhenaten, but instead it covers the stories of many people of many social classes. While interesting in the beginning, it became boring. Scarab's character was fascinating and I didn't understand why the author kept switching point of views...especially at the end when Scarab uncovers a plot against the king. If all of the other characters' stories were simply cut, this book could have been a lot shorter. I couldn't stand Akhenaten at all. He wasn't just an incompetent king...he was stupid. Many times over the course of the novel, I kept facepalming. Akhenaten was too trustworthy and believed that everyone would be good if they simply understood the love of the god Aten. But this caused him to nearly be killed, his country to be overrun by bandits and other enemies, and he did nothing about it. Also, the character of Nefertiti wasn't really developed. When we first see her, she seems extremely loyal to Akhenaten, but towards the end, she becomes bitter and hateful in less than two pages. I wish we could have seen more of her marriage with Akhenaten and why she ended up the way she did. There is a lot I would change about this book, but overall, I believe it was a good one and it definitely kept me occupied over the holiday.
This is another author's fleshing out of the story of the rise and fall of Pharoah Akhenaten, his wife Nefertiti, and his one god worship of the Aten - the sun god. It's written in both 1st and 3rd person narratives. 1st person is told by Beketaten, sister to Akhenaten, who he nick-named "Scarab" as she was not given a name because her father, Pharoah Amenhotep, was very sick and could not give her a proper birth name. The city that Akhenaten built is named Akhet-Aten (Amarna) in this book. Akhenaten was known as the "heretic" king as he abolished all other gods and demanded the worship of one god - the Aten. This brought chaos to Egypt. The descriptive passages and details of Egyptian life during this period is so fascinating that you are transported back in time. The only reason I gave it four stars is because I disliked the prologue and epilogue - they didn't sound like the same author wrote them. Were they really necessary? They take place in Syria in 1959 where a bunch of archaeologists searching for Neanderthal remains discover an Egyptian scarab and a wide cave with the following story inscribed on the walls. The author also included a chapter of who's who and what's what in the book and how to pronounce all those Egyptian names, places, and gods which was very helpful. I highly recommend this book if you like Egyptian history.
Scarab no beetle. Charmingly nameless for her first few years, then named almost randomly for a beetle that devotes its life to tidying things up, Scarab/Beketaten - the daughter of a king - sees the Egyptian kingdom decline under the influence of her willfully neglectful brother and then her ambitiously greedy uncle. She slips out of the palace often as a young girl with another brother a few years older and learns much about the people her family has ruled for so long. A maker of glass, a priest of Amun, a baker, a soldier, and even a pimp. Overton tells the story with occasional lapses into history and culture lessons, but always returns to the energetic, suspenseful tale of the coming of age of a young woman, who I suspect will eventually play a part in straightening out the mess that threatens her beloved country, Kemet/Egypt.
Took a lot of effort to adjust myself to the writing style; had threatened to stop reading a couple times, but persevered to get to at least 100 pages, when the story actually began to hold my interest. An interesting take on the mystery of the reign of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, who have always piqued my interest. Will now move on to the second book as I really want to finish Scarab's story, as well as that of the archaeological team.
I think I have read just about every version of the rise and fall of Akhenaten, the "heretic" king, both historical and fiction. Every character (save for the man himself) has told their version of events, and this time with Max Overton, we get Beketaten, the king's sister/daughter/depending on who's telling the tale.
A fascinating storyFascinating story of a very critical time of the New Kingdom of Ancient Egypt. The book has been both entertaining and educational. I cannot wait to re ad the other volumes of this saga.
Just was not what I expected. Disappointing.
I was looking for a historical fiction about Egypt and found this series. I loved it. I loved the set up for the information and thought the storytelling very captivating.