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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Fictionalized Biography of Hatshepsut Wins Nod from Egypt Then and Now

Title: Truth is the Soul of the Sun - A Biographical Novel of Hatshepsut-MaatkareAuthor: Maria Isabel Pita
Genre:Historical Fiction
Reviewer: Ben Morales-Correa

Reviewed by Ben Morales-Correa for EGYPT THEN & NOW

Historical objectivity and sensuality of expression interweave across the entire span of Truth is the Soul of the Sun, Maria Isabel Pita’s new biographical novel of Hatshepsut, arguably the most powerful woman of all time. We can tell that Pita worked tirelessly and with the same level of passion with which she communicates human emotion in her erotic literature to construe how a woman was able to break the long line of male kings and wear the double crown of the Two Lands as Maatkare, hence the title.

Granted, Truth is the Soul of the Sun is a chronological narrative of love and power with little suspense, but this is more than compensated by the parallel metaphysical world that Pita evokes with her magnificent and prolific use of imagery. The queen who would be king might be the main official character, but it is Maat, the spirit of beauty and order, a transcendent creative power breathing life, that is the true catalyst for the author’s inspiration. Thus, the novel demands a slower pace of reading, heightening our senses as we turn every page and imbue ourselves in the realm of beauty and spirituality of 18th dynasty Egypt.

Paradoxically, Maatkare Hatshepsut’s unique achievement of becoming a female Horus did not lead to any further break of tradition. In fact, once pharaoh, Hatshepsut limited herself to preserve Maat, exercise sekhem and perform heka and did not do anything different from previous rulers. Her greatness is inextricably attached to the support of two loyal and powerful male characters, whose relationship with the female king allows us to experience her womanhood.

Pity that these two men, important figures in the novel, one a commoner who rises to the highest positions on account of his intelligence and creativity, the other a direct descendant of ancient aristocracy, do not engage in a conflict of ideas leading to explore opposing views of ancient Egyptian social and political structure. We only encounter them together for a brief moment when they are involved in nedjemit with the female king.

To truly appreciate Truth is the Soul of the Sun, the reader must have a reasonable knowledge of Egyptology, as Pita thoroughly explains the symbolism and the neteru (she prefers to use neters) of Ancient Egypt, and names the cities and villages in the original Egyptian language. However, the publication includes references and more than a hundred footnotes.

In conclusion, Truth is the Soul of the Sun is a fascinating, well-researched and richly narrated biography in the historical fiction genre recommended for anyone interested in strong women in history.

Purchase this book at Amazon.

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