13 Dec 2016

(ANCIENT EGYPT #5): DESERT GOD.

DESERT GOD by WILBUR SMITH.

BACK COVER BLURB: Egypt is under threat. Taita, a freed slave and the Pharaoh’s closest advisor, must create a master plan to crush the kingdom’s historic enemy and return Egypt to its former glory.

He must call on his powers as both tactician and warrior to lead a great army up the Nile, through Arabia to the magical city of Babylon, then across the open seas to Crete.

This army will meet battle and betrayal head on. But their greatest challenge will not be found on the battleground and it will threaten not only Taita’s plan, but the very future of Egypt.

FIRST SENTENCE: Aton blinked his little eyes that were set deep in their rolls of fat, and then raised them from the bao board laid out between them.

MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 164}: I looked along the bottom of the wall and I saw her. It was not Tehuti but it was a memory of where she had recently been, like an echo or a shadow of herself. It was a smudge against the brightness, a tiny intangible cloud. It was not even human in shape or outline but I knew it was her.

MY THOUGHTS: Well, there's me with a dilemma. Do I read part six in Wilbur Smith's Ancient Egypt series or not?

An author whose books I either love or, well, don't. As far as me and Mr Smith go there isn't really a middle ground. 

A series I've always loved .... until now. 

Whilst Desert God was Ok, I'm sad to say I was disappointed.

I last read The Quest (book 4 in the series) some time ago and, with seven years between the publications (Desert God was published 2014, The Quest 2007), had considered re-reading the series from the beginning. Did my decision not to do so have an impact on my enjoyment of this instalment?

In a word, no. In fact I strongly suspect that had I re-read the books I may have found myself even more disappointed as it may well have re-enforced just how much I had enjoyed the previous novel(s).

A character with few flaws, like Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way, but was protagonist Taita always this annoyingly arrogant in his self-righteousness?

Not that this was only this aspect of the book that I found annoying.

Normally a fan of the attention to detail the author pays to characters and plot alike. Here I found that minute detail to be missing in some aspects (namely the under-developed secondary characters) whilst Over The Top when it came to others - I'm sorry but alas I found myself verging on boredom by the military manoeuvres that formed much of the formative 'chapters'.

Then there were the 'secondary' characters. So obviously secondary, the emphasis strongly on the protagonist, I'm still working out whether this was a good thing or not as quite frankly I found many of them (perhaps because they were so underdeveloped) irritating.

Hmm, wondering if I've maybe been too lenient in my 'it was OK' rating. Re-reading certain passages, call me cynical, but is it possible that this isn't in fact the work of Wilbur Smith but that of a ghost writer?


12 comments:

frayed at the edge said...

I've read the earlier books and remember enjoying them ...... but perhaps I'll give this one a miss!!

Gina R said...

Alas, not a book I'd really pick up from the start and from the sound of things, that'd be a wise decision on my part. Better luck next read!

Natasha Hill said...

Ooh this has piqued my interest! I love egyptology and anything to do with ancient history so I'll have to start from the beginning with this series from what you've said as the other books sounds good! Thanks for the tip off Tracy! - Tasha

Kelly said...

What a shame. Nothing more disappointing than to have a loved series come up with an installment that falls flat. It makes you hesitate to try again if there's a next one. If there is, perhaps it will be back on par (and will have been long enough that you've forgotten how poor this one was).

Kelly said...

Noticing that I misread that and there IS a part six. Hmmm.... well only you can decide whether to forge ahead. Personally, I'd give things another chance.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I have to say that I am not a huge fan of Wilbur Smith and although my dad has always been a keen follower, he has also lost some interest in his books over the last few months, citing that they don't seem to be so well written these days, which more or less echoes your own comments.

Given your comment about the hand of a ghost writer being at large, I thought you might be interested in a couple of links I found ...

http://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/books/363744/Wilbur-Smith-The-best-seller-who-doesn-t-have-to-write-his-own-books

http://www.express.co.uk/entertainment/books/363744/Wilbur-Smith-The-best-seller-who-doesn-t-have-to-write-his-own-books

Whilst these interviews all but confirm your suspicions, I still like your 'memorable moment', no matter who wrote it.

Thanks for sharing :)

Yvonne

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

Sorry to hear you didn't like this one as much as you would have liked. Especially since you have enjoyed most of the series. Interesting that the author's books are a love or hate kind of read for you. Thanks for sharing!

kimbacaffeinate said...

It is always disappointing when a series you enjoy, fizzles out. Great review, i like the premise.

Nasreen said...

I read one Wilbur Smith book and liked it. So not too sure about this one.

Suko said...

Annoying characters are not a good sign. Thanks for another honest and well-written review, Tracy. I hope the next book you pick up is more to your liking.

Melliane said...

oh it's too bad that this one wasn't that good in the end...

Brian Joseph said...

Based on your commentary and the above links it seems as if this was written by a ghost writer. Very perceptive of you Tracy to catch it.

It is really unfortunate that writers allow this to occur.