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Ramsès, fils de la lumière
Christian Jacq
publisher: , 1997

translated as:
The Son of Light
publisher: Querido, Amsterdam, 1997
translation: Mary Feeney

refered to by:
The Egyptologist
Arthur Phillips

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A popular European bestseller, especially in France where author and Egyptologist Christian Jacq heads the Ramses Institute for the preservation of endangered archaeological sites, Ramses: The Son of Light begins a five-volume fictional biography of the great, long-lived pharaoh. Court intrigue, Egyptian religion, and mysticism form a backdrop to the interactions between real and plausible characters from throughout time and space in the ancient world.

Most of ancient history is viewed through a Greco-Roman lens. Occasional works like this series or Karen Essex' Kleopatra make Egypt the norm and Greece (or Rome) the aberrant culture. In Ramses: the Son of Light, Helen of Troy visits Egypt where she laments that she lacks the courage to kill herself. Jacq's Helen has hated her husband since the beginning. Now that the Greeks have destroyed Troy, she agonizes over the treatment she'll suffer in Sparta at Menelaus' hands. But eventually she realizes that she, too, can enjoy the comparatively privileged status of Egyptian women. While Helen's visit may be recorded in legend, Homer's presence in Egypt alongside Helen and Menelaus goes against current dating of the writing of The Iliad and The Odyssey. Homer isn't even blind initially, but capable of seeing the Egyptian beauties around him while he smokes a sage pipe, drinks aromatic, spiced wine, and writes his epics.
Moses and Ramses, taught together by the scribal teacher and Ramses' brother-in-law, Sari, are great friends. The remaining members of their scribal cohort and central characters in the series, are the snake-charmer, Setau, Ramses' devoted sandal-bearer, Ahmeni, and the fastidious diplomat, Ahsha. Future pharaoh Ramses' family consists of the current pharaoh, Seti, his Great Wife, Tuya, Ramses' elder brother, an overweight, gluttonous conniver named Shanaar who believes he should be the next pharaoh, and Ramses' older sister, Dolora, the wife of the scribes' teacher, Sari.

King-making, the basic plot, ties together all the characters with Egyptian culture, magic, and religion. Ramses must undergo a series of tests – including surviving a divine, all-encompassing flame –- without knowing what he will win if he passes. Meanwhile Shanaar does everything he can to line up the leading families on his side for the inevitable showdown between him and his younger brother.

Black and white, good and evil, the plots and characters are entertaining. Jacq provides glimpses of life for various craftsmen in ancient Egypt as well as a sense of the awe and power of pharaoh – a divine incarnation. Like the first episode of a soap opera, Ramses: The Son of Light leaves the reader eager to learn what will happen next.

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The Son of Light
The first in a series of five novels chronicling the life of Egypt's greatest pharoah, Ramses II. The story opens with Ramses aged 14 years. His father, Sethi, has created a powerful empire and favours Ramses as his successor, rather than Ramses' scheming older brother, Chenar.
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The Ledge
editor-in-chief: Stacey Knecht,
Thanks to: De digitale pioniers and
Het Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
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Copyright: Pieter Steinz, Stacey Knecht
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