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The Shepherd Kings
Judith Tarr
Forge Books, 512 pages

The Shepherd Kings
Judith Tarr
Judith Tarr was born in 1955 in Augusta, Maine. Her education includes time spent at Mount Holyoke College (AB), Newnham College, Cambridge (BA and MA) and Yale University (MA, M.Phil and PhD). Her first books, the 3-volume Hound and the Falcon series (The Isle of Glass, The Golden Horn, and The Hounds of God), brought a new freshness to fantasy. It follows the adventures of Alfred, a half-human, half-elf hybrid.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jeri Wright

Invaders from the East have occupied the Kingdom of Lower Egypt for a hundred years. With their war chariots, uncouth bearded warriors, and veiled women, the Retenu remain unwelcome overlords to the people they have conquered. Change is coming, however; the King of Upper Egypt plans to reunite the kingdoms as they were in days of old, and a new alliance with the seafarers of Crete may be the key.

Kemni, a young Egyptian who lost everything in a failed uprising against the Retenu, is now a battle-brother to a prince and faithful servant of the Pharaoh Ahmose in the Upper Kingdom. He will follow a true dream to the island of Crete and there make an alliance that will prove the turning point in freeing Egypt from captivity. There, too, he will come under the spell of an enigmatic Cretan priestess.

Meanwhile, his cousin Iry, once lady of the household of the Sun Ascendant, is now slave to its new Retenu lord, a man she reluctantly finds herself drawn to. When the living incarnation of the Goddess, the White Mare, chooses this Egyptian slave to be her new Servant, she signals an omen of change. The Mare cannot be refused, not when she led her people to Egypt with the invaders, and not when she chooses the child of their enemies to be her Chief Priestess.

This fat historical novel has the feel of epic fantasy. Both Kemni and Iry are clearly touched by the hands of the gods, he with his "true", prophetic dreams, and she by being the chosen of the goddess. Equally clearly, both are fated for great deeds. I enjoyed The Shepherd Kings; elegant prose and an eye for interesting detail make the setting and the cultures come alive. Somehow, though, I felt that I was observing the characters from a distance, rather than being caught up in their lives and their experiences in the personal way I often experience a novel. I was interested, I was intrigued, but I wasn't particularly involved. Even so, this was a good read, and leaves me with clear images of the time and place as Judith Tarr has painted it.

Copyright © 1999 Jeri Wright

Jeri is a voracious reader who believes that paradise could well be a quiet afternoon, unlimited chocolate, and a novel to lose herself in. She reads and reviews all types of fiction, and enjoys sharing her life long passion for books with like-minded readers.

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