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Warlock: A Novel of Ancient Egypt    by Wilbur Smith order for
by Wilbur Smith
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2001 (2001)
Hardcover, Audio, CD

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Warlock continues the story of the eunuch Taita told in River God. It mentions his lifelong love for Queen Lostris. After her death he retreated into the desert, studying the occult, until she called him back through a vision, to tutor and help her grandson Nefer. Her son Tamose, Nefer's father, is now Pharaoh but not for long. After Taita takes Nefer into the desert to find his godbird, Tamose is betrayed and murdered by his friend, Naja, who has Hyksos blood and is in collusion with a cousin amongst the enemy (the Hyksos under Apepi rule lower Egypt and the two powers have been at war for some time).

The usurper Naja swiftly has himself appointed Regent, marries the young Princesses, and courts Taita for the secret of eternal life, which he believes the ageless sorceror to hold. Taita is able to manipulate Naja to some extent, and so protects his young charge for a time. Then Nefer meets and falls in love with Mintaka, daughter of the Hyksos ruler. Apepi himself is in danger from Hyksos traitors, and the plot quickly thickens and runs red with blood and gore - in Smith's typical fast and violent cliff-hanging action, much of which centers on the shattered city of Gallala.

This was a colorful period in Ancient Egypt, under threat from the Hyksos in the South and continually at war. Smith's characters (both good and bad) are larger than life, especially his puppetmaster warlock Taita, a well-drawn and powerful protagonist. The action is fast and furious; its rapine and violence copious and explicit. If you can stomach the latter, Warlock is great entertainment.

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