In the interests of broadening my horizons and reading more out of my comfort zone, I settled on this book downloaded on my kindle as my lunchtime reading last week. And when I say out of my comfort zone, this most certainly was!
We start the book seeing a young girl (Samiya) seemingly being abandoned by her mother, and a young boy (David) being branded by his father. Twenty five years later, Sam is sent by the Shemsu Seth to retrieve a mysterious ‘tablet’ from her mother’s home. The tablet is needed to help fulfill an ancient prophecy, which we discover much more about during the book.
When one of Samiya’s guard dogs is killed during this mission, she kills her mother’s partner Tariq as a sacrifice. Although Samiya remembers her mother, she doesn’t seem to care about hurting her to get what she has been sent for, although she doesn’t kill her like the other Shemsu Seth would have done. But when Samiya returns her mother to the underground home of the Shemsu Seth, is that really a good thing?
We learn that there is the Shemsu Seth, ‘the bad guys’, who deal with a power called the Void, and the Shemsu Hor, ‘the good guys’, who deal with a power called the Fullness. There needs to be a balance between the two. Samiya doesn’t like being in the void with the Shemsu Seth, she feels guilty for the bad things that she has to do, but as her mother explains to her, how can you know all the good in the world if there is no bad to balance it out? You need to experience the downs to know the joys of the ups.
The book was a very strange mix of ancient and modern, the juxtaposition of the ancient myths with the jet planes, computers and cars was a little hard to get used to at first, but probably more because I knew absolutely nothing about these ancient Egyptian myths and even less about modern Egypt.
When the setup of the story has been finished and we get into the grit of the book, it looks like David is going to help the Shemsu Hor to battle against Sam and the Shemsu Seth to find the spine of Osiris, but all is not as it seems.
As David goes out into the desert to connect to the fullness, he reaches the void instead, and connects in the most disturbing way, becoming completely Seth and seeming to forget his previous life completely. Which just goes to show you that things aren’t always what they appear, and that you don’t have to follow those paths which seem set out for you. Sam disobeys orders from her evil master to save her mother, and David sacrifices his girlfriend to save himself.
Late on in the book, we find out why some people can connect to the void and some cannot. The Void can be used without conscience, where as the fullness can’t. Which led to my favourite quote from the book:
“Without conscience there is no empathy, no compassion, nothing that makes us human, and nothing which differentiates us from animals.”
I’m still not 100% sure that I understand completely what happened at the end, and although I wouldn’t usually post spoilers for the end of the plot here anyway, I’m not entirely sure I could even if I wanted to. I did mostly enjoy reading the book, although I found it very hard to follow at some points, but I don’t think that’s any comment on the quality of the book or the talent of the author, I think it’s simply because this book was so far out of my comfort zone that I’d never read anything like it before. So I’m going to give this book 2/5 purely based on my enjoyment, but I would still recommend that you read this book if you like this kind of genre.