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About the author:
By contributing to my income through a purchase, you make it possible for me to spend more time writing new novels for you to enjoy. As a portion of the profits of my sales do go to charity, you are also placing yourself 2 degrees of separation from being a philanthropist!
What inspired you to write your book?
I’m fascinated by history, particularly Ancient Egypty during the time of Tut’s father (a monotheiest) and after his death the mystery surrounding Tut’s brief reign and the rather colorful happenings in the land of the Hitties at the time (much of which overlapped).
Here is a short sample from the book:
Thebes, Upper Egypt. 1332 B.C.
One of Queen Ankhesenpaaten’s hands lay on her stomach, the other gripping the arm of her seat so tightly that it had grown pale. Her face was drawn, wan. Dark circles ran under her eyes.
Idaten, Ankhesenpaaten’s childhood playmate and favorite slave girl, worriedly applied kohl to Ankhe’s eyes. She had already been at the task of beautifying the queen for quite some time now. Standing back to judge her work, she sighed heavily, shaking her head.
“Why do you do this to me, Ankhe?” she said half to herself.
Ankhesenpaaten gave no sign of having heard her, of even having seen her though Ida stood directly in front of her.
Ida tried once again to improve Ankhe’s pallid appearance with little success. She put down the palate of powders and the brush. She did not doubt that should Ankhe appear in such a state that it would be she who would pay the price, but what more was there that Ida could do? She studied Ankhe’s face intently as she pondered her predicament.
Perhaps food might help to bring some color back to the queen’s cheeks.
“Esnai,” Ida snapped at the new slave who was perfecting Ankhesenpaaten’s wig, “go and get Queen Ankhesenpaaten her morning meal.” When the girl continued her work, unmoved by Ida’s dictate, Ida’s already brewing agitation turned quickly to anger. “Esnai, now!”
Suddenly having heard her name, Esnai paused in her work. She looked to Ida, awaited further instruction.
“Well go!” Ida ordered, making a shooing motion with her hands.
Esnai’s expression mirrored her confusion. “Go where?” she asked.
Ida glared angrily at the girl for a long moment before walking swiftly around
Ankhesenpaaten and slapping her. The girl covered her injured cheek and scurried behind Batau, the well-seasoned slave at Ankhesenpaaten’s feet.
Batau glared at Ida. “Ida,” she reprimanded, “none of this is Esnai’s fault.” She turned now to Esnai, speaking loudly, slowly and clearly. “The Queen’s morning meal.”
Esnai nodded. She rose slowly, careful to stay out of Ida’s reach as she backed out of the room.
Batau turned a hard glare upon Ida.
Ida, however, remained unapologetic. “What?” she said. “So much has happened just now. Pharaoh Akhenaten is dead, our Ankhe pregnant with his child, Smenkhkare’s ridiculous mandate forcing us to abandon El-Amana. Now Ay and Horemheb are trying to groom Tutankh to become Pharaoh, are trying to force a marriage between he and Ankhe. How am I supposed to remember that that girl is a half-wit?”
“Ida, you know full well that Esnai is deaf in one ear.”
“Excuse me, a cripple.”
“Well, your memory for gossip certainly seems to be faring well enough. Apologize when she returns.” Batau turned her attention to massaging oil into Ankhe’s other foot.
“Why? I didn’t make her a cripple. She should learn to listen.” Ida picked up the palate again. She turned back to the queen, dusted at the dark rings.
“Mark my words, girl,” Batau warned, “One day your insolence will cost you dearly.” She shook her head. “As if the entire world is to blame because Horemheb has forbidden Tutankhaten from seeing you anymore.”
Ida spared Batau only a dismissive glance.
“It is for the best, Ida. You are becoming a woman with a woman’s heart. You are already too attached to him as it stands. You wear the anklet that he gave you as proudly as any peacock. You even disappeared with him during the last Nile Flood Feast. No one could find either of you for hours. That is not fitting behavior for the future Pharaoh nor for one of the Queen’s slaves.”
Ida’s hand paused, her grip on the brush tightened to the point that her knuckles turned white. “From where did you hear that I was with Tutankh Nile Flood Feast?” she asked.
Though Batau did not confirm her suspicions, Ida knew that it was she. “Esnai has far too much ambition to ever be truly trustworthy,” Ida said, wishing now that she had slapped the girl even harder.
“Tutankh may well mean everything he has said to you. I have seen with my own eyes that his affections for you are indeed genuine and the two of you have been almost inseparable from the very beginning. But Ida, you must understand that his duty will not allow this no matter how much he may want it to be so. He is still a child, Ida. His will is not his own.”
Ida did not reply as she continued to make up Ankhe’s face, her own face set like stone.
Batau stood and grabbing Ida’s forearm, turned her towards her. “When he becomes Pharaoh do you honestly believe that they will allow you to be anything more to him than a servant, than just another plaything at the most?”
Ida trembled with fury. Tears stung her eyes. Batau had no right.
“I know that right now you think I am just being spiteful, but Ida, you are just a slave girl, however favored you may be, a slave girl.”
Ida pulled her arm away. “My father is of noble blood,” she retorted, “blood every bit as noble as theirs. My grandfather’s defeat in battle and subsequent enslavement does not alter that fact.”
“You think you’re the only slave here who can trace their lines back to royalty?” Batau asked. “You think your grandfather was the first and only vassal ever to be put down by Pharaoh, stripped of his power and privilege and enslaved?”
Ida gave no reply though Batau could tell by the girl’s wounded expression that her words had hit their mark.
Batau sighed. “I’m sorry for your family and for you, Ida. Truly I am. But as things stand now, of noble line or not, you are no higher than I or even Esnai. You are just a slave. We are the same.”
“I will never be like you,” Ida retorted fiercely. “I will never bend and break my back until the day I die.”
“Only time will tell,” Batau replied wearily, her patience with the girl wearing thin. “Time will tell all. Still, for now, you are just another slave, and therefore, should consider yourself blessed if only to kiss the ground upon which Pharaoh has walked.”
Ida shook her head defiantly though tears stung at her eyes.
“If you do not learn to bend,” Batau counseled, “to play the game, you will break.”
“I will never break,” Ida swore vehemently.
“Won’t you? How many times have I watched you locked in the confines, watched you released sobbing and wrecked only to wind up in there again and again and again? How much more of that do you think you can take?”
A fleeting look of terror cracked through Ida’s bravado. The confines. There was no punishment that terrified her more than being locked in that small, dank, windowless box of a cell.
Batau’s expression and tone gentled as her hearted softened towards the child. “I will not lie to you. First affections are always the hardest to let go of, and you will probably never forget him, but Ida you must stop this self-deception.”
Ida turned towards the window as she fought to control the tide of her emotions, to keep the bitter tears back. “Your warnings come too late, Batau.”
Ankhesenpaaten bent forward suddenly. She groaned in pain. Ida whirled around.
“Ida,” Batau said stooping to Ankhesenpaaten, “the midwife!”
Ida ran from the room.
“Breathe, Ankhe,” Batau told the queen. Ankhe grabbed Batau’s hand. “May Taveret protect you and your baby,” she said softly as she stroked Ankhe’s back. “May Taveret protect you.”