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The Amarnan Kings Book 6: Scarab - Descendant by Max Overton (Historical: Ancient Egypt)

The Amarnan Kings Book 6: Scarab - Descendant by Max Overton (Historical: Ancient Egypt)
 
(3 reviews)  

Three thousand years after the reigns of the Amarnan Kings, the archaeologists who discovered the inscriptions in Syria, journey to Egypt to find the tomb of Smenkhkare and his sister Scarab, and the fabulous treasure they think is there. Unscrupulous men, and religious fanatics, also seek the tomb, either to plunder it or to destroy it. Can the gods of Egypt protect their own, or must they rely on modern day men and women of science?

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ISBN/EAN13: 1922233056 / 9781922233059
Page Count: 616
Trim Size: 5" x 8"

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The Amarnan Kings Book 6: Scarab - Descendant by Max Overton (Historical: Ancient Egypt)
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3 Most useful customer reviews (see all reviews):
ARMYBONES-RVN Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Sep 18, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars

Without a doubt the Amarnan Kings is the best series about Ancient Egypt I have ever had the pleasure to read!

I wish and hope in the future Max Overton may once again provide us with joy of another series! Thank you Max!
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Mr. S. F. Thompson "peloquin1" (Amazon Verified)
Oct 12, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic finale

Have just finished the last book in The Amarnan Kings saga, what a great end to one of the best series of books I have ever read. I have read book 1 to book 6 end to end and feel lost now the journey is over. Every book has kept me enthralled from start to finish and the way Max writes puts you right into the story with vivid descriptions of life in Egypt in those times, I have lived through all Scarab's experiences and feel Max writes with passion and a great knowledge of the times. Praise must be given to these books and I look forward to reading many more Max Overton books. I have read the Lion of Scythia trilogy with the same zest and will now move on to the Demon trilogy. Fantastic books and I urge everybody to read them.
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Holly Y (Amazon Verified)
Sep 20, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad that It's Over!!!

This entire series was an amazing way of looking at the 18th Dynasty as opposed to what we know from the history books. Why couldn't Smenkhare and Tut have died at the same time, why couldn't Moses have been a previous king who disappeared for years but continued in is "odd" belief that there was only one God? So many times throughout the first five books, and caught myself smiling at the in-depth research and story telling of these "what ifs." I would absolutely recommend this series to anyone who loves ancient Egyptian culture or anyone who loves court intrigue and epic story telling!

The last book was a very different feel, but equally as good. A perfect way to wrap up the present-day story, and also a few good finishing touches on Scarab's story.

This entire series goes down on my favorites of all time list, and I wish more people knew about it!
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Sample Chapter

Prologue

Death is not what I thought it would be.

The priests tell us that when we die we immediately face the judgment of the gods and our heart is weighed in the balance against the feather of Truth to determine whether our bad deeds outweigh the pure nothingness of good action. Should a heart weigh more than the feather, then the soul is eaten by monsters and we cease to exist. Pass this test, however, and our soul journeys on to pleasant well-watered fields where wheat and barley grow in abundance, where the cattle are fat and vines groan under the weight of their produce. There we exist in happiness for eternity or until such time as the gods choose to pass us back into the world.

The truth is very different – or at least it is in my case.

I travelled down from the fields of Kadesh by the sandstone cliffs to the narrow black lands of Kemet, bringing with me the prepared body of the king Neferkheperu Scarab, my beloved wife. That journey, in itself, could not be told simply so I will refrain. Suffice it to say that the passage through hostile lands was difficult and fraught with dangers both for me and my precious cargo. I was no longer a young man when I essayed it, and I could not move swiftly or fight off bandits by the strength of my right arm as once I might have. I had to employ deceit, guile and subterfuge and in this, the gods aided me.

When the days of embalming had passed, performed by other refugees from the hand of Horemheb and his successors, I faced up to the problem of conveying the body of my king-wife to her final resting place and there entombing her with due ceremony and the riches that are her throne-right. I knew it would not be easy. The rule of Kemetu law as enforced by King Usermaatre-setepenre Ramesses is shaky at best in this northern region where the Empire of Hattu threatens. I could not rely on the Kemetu legions to protect me, even carrying the body of the king's grandmother, for if the authorities learned of her identity the best she could hope for was a small rock-tomb in the Lesser Valley where female relatives of the king are interred. On the other hand, I risked the destruction of her body and soul should bandits claim her richly-wrapped corpse.

There are two ways to enter Kemet – by sea and by land. Any of the sea-ports would have ships plying their trade along the coast and down to the mouths of the Great River, but the entrances to these ports are watched closely by the soldiers of whichever king holds suzerainty in that stretch of the coast. The watch is kept not so much to prevent crime, but rather to prevent any expensive goods being traded without the payment of the requisite taxes. I could not risk my belongings being thoroughly searched by soldiers as I entered the port, so I opted for the slower land route into Kemet, bypassing the cities.

An embalmed body is light, all water and fat having been absorbed by the natron bath, and even after the body was wrapped in finest linen and all the proper prayers and amulets fixed in place, I could carry my beloved in death far easier than I could carry her in life. I had a lightweight casket made, seemingly of raw and uncut timber, unprepossessing and ordinary, but it held the body safely and would attract little attention unless examined closely. This casket I loaded onto a camel and packed it about with cheap trade goods. I could not carry gold with me, for I posed as a poor trader, but I would need it when I arrived in Kemet. I meant to inter my wife as a true king of Kemet and that involved many costly items being prepared. I could not carry gold with me, but I knew where I could find it in abundance – the treasury of her long-dead brother Djeserkheperu Smenkhkare.

I traversed the land of Kanaan without major incident, though three attacks by bandits stripped me of almost everything I owned. Luckily, they left me my bulky and almost worthless bundle of timber. I passed the line of forts – now once more firmly in Kemetu hands – and made my way through the rich delta lands to the white-walled city of Ineb Hedj, or Men-nefer 'the enduring and beautiful' as many men now call the city, and the great stone pyramids looming like angular mountains on the plateau beyond. Here I found the first friends who would help me – for Scarab's sake.

I was welcomed – no questions asked – and given sustenance and such help as I needed to further my quest. I made a quick visit to Iunu, where I spoke to the High Priest of Atum, and then back to Men-nefer where I made my preparations. Now that I was within the borders of Kemet, I could travel the King's Roads in safety, and presently attached myself to a caravan heading south to Waset. I left it in Akhet-Aten though, as I had business there.

Several craftsmen and artisans friendly to the Aten belief had fled the enmity of the kings from Ay to Ramses, and some had found haven in the north. They had family still residing in and about the former City of the Aten, and it were these men I sought. I visited the house of Mut after nightfall, identifying myself when he stared without recognition at my ancient visage.

"Khu, by the holy face of the Aten, what are you doing here? Is...is she with you?"

I told him, and after he indulged in sincere expressions of grief, I revealed why I had come. "Mut, I must bury her as befits her station as king of Kemet and sister, daughter and mother of kings. Will you help me?"

"Tell me what I must do."

"I need a sarcophagus suitable for royalty, and moveable cypress panels painted with scenes from her life and appropriate prayers, and also worthy grave goods."

Mut looked worried. "Whatever wealth I have is hers, you know that Khu, but what you ask will cost far more gold than I have."

"I will provide the gold. All I ask of you is your skill and your silence."

"You have it, my friend."

I left Scarab's body in his care and took a boat upriver the next day. At Waset, I sought out a fisherman I knew, old and discreet, who took me further upriver to where a tumbled cairn and a grove of date palms pointed the way to the hidden treasury of King Smenkhkare. I prayed to the king, and to his sister, that no harm would come to me, before breaking the hidden seals and entering the chamber. Light from the torch I carried reflected back off stacked ingots of gold, mounds of ivory, and burst bags of jewels and finely wrought jewellery. I had calculated how much I would need for Scarab's burial and removed just that much, leaving the rest against future need. Later, I would transfer the rest to the tomb that would hold brother and sister for eternity.

By the time I returned to Akhet-Aten, Mut and his trusted friends had made a start on fashioning the sarcophagus and grave goods. The gold, ivory and jewels I brought enabled them to start turning superlative wooden carvings into works of art, and a month later, all was in readiness.

"They are perfect, Mut," I said. I walked around the room, examining the cunningly wrought sarcophagus, the intricately carved and painted panels and the wide selection of grave goods. "May Aten bless you for your efforts."

"Two things concern me, Khu. First, how are you going to transport all this upriver without raising suspicion? Second, if this is to be a royal burial, you need the sanction of the priests. How will you get a priest to conduct the funeral without informing the king?"

"I will need you to make an outer coffin, plain and painted. Then I will take everything upriver quite openly as the body of a minor noble being returned to his family estates near Behdet. As for the priests – I have made arrangements."

"The tomb is near Behdet then?"

"Better you do not know, old friend. What you do not know cannot be passed on, even accidentally."

I sailed again, this time on a cargo boat heading south on Iteru. Soldiers came aboard at Waset and gave the cargo a cursory examination. The officer in charge asked me about the coffin and panels I carried and with a silent prayer to the gods I offered up my explanation.

"The panels and grave goods are of excellent quality," the officer commented, "But the coffin is hardly up to the same standard. Why is that?"

"The furniture was prepared in Men-nefer while the body of the young master lay in the House of Death. I had a fine coffin prepared, but on the day we sailed, the fools carrying it to the boat dropped it and it cracked. This was all they had as a replacement. I will have to have a new one made in Behdet."

"We have some excellent coffin makers in Waset. Why not have one made here?"

"I have my orders, sir. We are already a day late, and I have a hard master."

The officer nodded sympathetically and let me go. We sailed on to Behdet, where everything was unloaded and stored in a small warehouse near the docks. That night, my fisherman friend returned with his sons and we took everything downriver to the track that led to where a pylon sat atop the line of the western cliffs and an arrow of light pointed inland at dawn. A cart was waiting, driven by another son of the fisherman, and by the break of day, everything sat at the bottom of the cliff face up which we must climb. The tomb of King Smenkhkare lay in the desert beyond the cliffs, in the green mountain crowned by light.

I dismissed the fisherman and his sons with thanks and a little gold, not because they were untrustworthy but because the fewer people who knew the exact location of the tomb, the better. Others would help me complete my mission, but I would have to wait for them, so I hid everything as best I could and made camp.

My helpers arrived the next day – priests and priestesses of the Nine of Iunu. They helped me carry the wooden sarcophagus of King Scarab up the steep and narrow track to the cliff top, past Khepri's shrine, across the miles to the mountain, open the tomb of King Smenkhkare, and install the grave goods. These included the remaining wealth of King Smenkhkare's treasury, laboriously transported piece by piece amid great secrecy. The Hem-Netjer of Atum led the ceremonies of opening the mouth, of blessing the tomb and uttering the incantations of protection, before each of the priests and priestesses uttered words of praise for the King that had put the Nine before all others.

We sealed the tomb and made our way back down to the river. The priests and priestesses bade me farewell before the Hem-Netjer of Atum took me aside.

"The golden scarab that the god gave to her – you have it?" He held out his hand.

"No. It did not seem right to take it. I left it entombed up in Kanaan where Scarab wrote the account of her life."

The Hem-Netjer frowned. "That was ill-considered. With it, I could have conjured a lasting protection on the tomb."

"I will stay and guard it," I said. "I meant to stay here anyway, for my life's meaning lies up there." I gestured toward the hidden tomb that lay beyond the cliff face.

The Hem-Netjer prayed and inclined his head as if listening to unspoken words. He nodded. "The gods will accept your sacrifice, Khu son of Pa-it, beloved of Scarab. Guard her well until she comes again."

"She will come again? What do you mean?"

He did not answer me, but stepped aboard the boat that would carry them back down the river to Iunu. I put the words from my mind, for I reasoned that if she came again I would know it and if she did not, then his words were meaningless.

I lived there below the cliff face and path that led to my beloved's tomb for nearly twenty years more. I built myself a shelter and grew a little food, catching fish and snaring wildfowl in the reeds. People from villages nearby came to recognise me as a holy man and brought me what I lacked, and in return I offered my medical expertise, saving more than a few lives over the years and easing the burden on many more. The track up the cliff face slowly became obscured and fell away, leaving no trace that men had ever passed that way. I found another path to the top and journeyed inland to the green mountain as often as I could while my strength remained, to gaze on the site of the tomb itself. The guiding pylon at the top of the cliff through which the rising run cast its first rays I destroyed, lest others use the god's golden finger to find the tomb, though I could do nothing about the crown of light. Let the gods look after that.

I died, though at first I was unaware of it. My life was so simple and repetitive that I continued my daily routine for some time before I realised that night and day were passing without feelings of hunger or thirst, and I felt no desire to sleep. I realised what must have happened when I saw the villagers lay a wizened but recognisable body in a shallow sandy grave at the top of the cliffs, near where the pylon had once stood. I prepared myself for what must surely follow – judgment by the gods. I waited – and waited – while days and seasons and years cycled by – a bodiless entity on the edge of the desert, my attention fixed still on a rock tomb carved in the side of a green mountain crowned with light. The words of the Hem-Netjer came again to me – 'The gods will accept your sacrifice, Khu son of Pa-it, beloved of Scarab. Guard her well until she comes again.' I realised with some horror that I had condemned myself to an eternity of watching and waiting, for surely Scarab could not come again. She must certainly be in the company of the gods, enjoying the rewards of a righteous life.

I railed at my fate and cursed the gods, but they had turned their faces from me. After a while, I became resigned and a hundred years or so later I came to think of my sentence as an opportunity to serve my beloved from beyond the grave. True, I had always thought that I would serve her in the Field of Reeds, waiting upon her for eternity, but was this so different? I had no need of food or wine, of sleep or pastime. I served my beloved by making sure her tomb remained undisturbed.

Years passed and the world changed. The Kings of Kemet came and went, displaced by curl-bearded foreigners and then the followers of a young man who called himself 'Alexandros, Son of Amun'. They were followed by a hard race from the north who ruled Kemet with iron, and in their turn by followers of one they called 'The Prophet'. Through all those long years I waited and I watched, and thrice had occasion to act.

The first time, some villagers forgot the warnings passed down from their forefathers and attempted to scale the cliff face and cross the desert. They reached the green mountain and sought to force the tomb entrance, seeking anything of value that they might sell for food. All they found was death. The second time was in the time of the followers of the Prophet, men who hungered after gold and had no regard for the beliefs of others. They followed the trail of rumour and old stories, and came to the same end as the first. The third came much later, when fair-skinned men dressed in clothes that encased them despite the heat, attempted to dig into the side of the green mountain. These ones sought knowledge rather than gold, but I could not allow my beloved to be taken back to a 'museum'. I called on the Nine of Iunu and they came to my aid, driving the fair-skinned men to self-destruction. The mountain got a reputation for being haunted and was shunned – which suited me.

And then came a fourth attempt...

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