Wednesday, October 13, 2010

October Secret Agent #28

TITLE: Hatshepsut- Female Pharaoh
GENRE: Commercial Fiction- Historical

Her sister was dead.

Hatshepsut reached out to touch a clump of papyrus reeds as the skiff bobbed its way across the Nile. Soon she would become the next Great Royal Wife. The title should have gone to Neferubity; would have, had her sister not passed to the Field of Reeds. Now Hatshepsut's greatest responsibility in this life was to marry her brother and bear Egypt's future heir. The thought made her wish she could trade places with her sister.

The morning was still cool enough; Re's scorching heat had not yet wrung the sweat from her pores. The rowers gave a hippo wide berth, but the lazy river cow only yawned before submerging itself below the silty waters. Hatshepsut's eyes burned with the tears she had shed at Neferubity's tomb, but donkeys brayed and children laughed as the boat neared the East Bank. Life continued here in Egypt's capitol, despite Neferubity's absence from this world. The rowers--young men scarcely clad in loincloths--grunted as they tied up the royal barque. One almost tripped in his haste to help her onto the dock.


Even though she hadn't heard it in almost two years, she knew that voice.

Her brother. And future husband.

Thutmosis had been in Canaan on a military campaign with their father for the past two years and wasn't expected back for several months. Hatshepsut was shocked as her brother hobbled toward her, leaning on an ivory walking cane. His lips pursed every time he put weight on his right foot.


  1. I don't normally read gravitate towards reading anything historical, but I liked this! Very interesting so far.

  2. I'm hooked. OK, I am partial to anything Egyptian, but the writing is good and I'm intrigued by the circumstances.

  3. I loved this. You've managed to put so much tension into the opening. Not much else to say except HOOKED!

  4. I think the writing is fine, but I'd make sure that full-on incest was the norm back in that time period. I have no idea, but it borders on the creepy.

    also -- it should be "Egypt's capital" -not "Egypt's capitol".

  5. Vivid description helps to really set the scene. I don't yet have a strong sense of character, but I'm drawn in enough to the scene that I'd definitely read on.

  6. Hooked.
    I love how you just work all the information into the scene. Internal thoughts, observations, the way you know the brother is crippled by what he DOES, not what we are told.
    This is really, really good writing.
    (And, yeah, for other reviewers, full on incest was the norm, creepy or not.)

  7. Love it! But, then I do love historical fiction--and then to throw in Egypt and Hatshepsut! You would have to do a LOT to lose me!

    I do think the writing here is very good. I love your descriptions (I'm a sucker for fabulous description, too) but I wonder if too much of it is placed too soon. I would really like to see more of the tension between her and Thutmose right away.

    Also, I would love to see a more enticing title. It makes one almost expect non-fiction and is not in keeping with the great story you are pulling us into!

    Hooked for sure!

  8. Hooked. I love everything Egyptian and would read more.

  9. Like the information and setting, but first two paragraphs don't have much energy. Maybe weave in the fact that her sister is dead as the rowers go past that hippo (great image).

    Good going!

  10. Beautifully crafted.

    Try: 'The god Re's' (the first time for us dolts).

    At first I was surprised by her lack of immediete reaction to her sister's death, but I read on to her tears, and I saw a character focusing now on a goal. So, the comment about her switching places with her sister was just an errant human thought. Maybe more than 250 words are needed here, to say: could trade places with her sister, but the gods gave her a destiny for greatness (or some such). You're okay either way.

    I'm hooked.

  11. Hooked. I write historical fiction and I know something about Hatshepsut.

    I want to read more. And yes, in the royal Egyptian dynasties, marriage to your brother or sister was old hat. (Pardon the pun.)

  12. *Loves it*

    Fav: "The thought made her wish she could trade places with her sister."

    You've used some lovely imagery to set the scene, and the voice feels very natural to her position and status. You've used a great balance of showing and telling, and I really enjoyed the rhythm of your writing.

    I'm sorry I can't offer even a tidbit for improvement. Oh, heck, just a bit more brainstorming on the title, I suppose, as was mentioned earlier. I'd suggest one, but I'm terrible with titles :)

  13. I dont' know that I'd like to read a whole book that has the name Hatshepsut in it. I don't know how to pronounce itand it's so long...

  14. Hatshepsut's eyes burned with the tears she had shed at Neferubity's tomb,

    Burned FROM the tears . . . As is, the tears she shed at the funeral are still with her. You might also consider turning that sentence around. Put the donkeys and laughing children first, then . . . but H.'s eyes burned . . .

    You might also show the last parg. Instead of giving us an info dump, have her think - What's he doing here? He's supposed to be in where ever, . . . It puts the reader in the story as opposed to listening to someone tell it.

    All small nitpicky things. This was done really well!

  15. I personally know people who won't read books with foreign, unpronouncable names and though I'm reading Stieg Larsson's "Girl" trilogy now without much of a problem, I feel like the names here would be a stumbling block for me. Might be my problem, as historical fiction is not my thing.

    Whether incest was or wasn't the norm back then, I think I might have a problem with that too. Again, might be me.

    On a positive note, I think the writing is well done.

  16. I too loved this piece. It was strong both in character (subtly), setting and description.

    Several lines cuaght me - the opening - Her sister was dead - and the best one - The thought made her wish she could trade places with her sister.

    I WANT more...

  17. Even though I know these names are based on historical characters, I find the long unpronounceable names to be sort of annoying. I'm sure I'd get past it by giving it some abbreviation in my head, but 1 page isn't enough for me to do that yet.

    Also, I realize incest is the norm, but there's a twinge of ick for me there.

    So getting past those issues, I thought the writing was nice and the story seems to have potential. I think you have some really nice sentences in there.

    I wonder if the whole brother and future husband would have more impact if you took out the 2nd to last sentence of that 1st long paragraph. Or those last two sentences. And then we find out that she's supposed to marry her brother later down the page?

    Overall I think it's good though.

  18. I liked this, but for some reason I was picturing her on the river bank watching her sister's corpse on the barque go past. It was only later on I realised she was on the boat. I seem to be the only person who's had this reaction, so it's probably just me and you can ignore this comment :-)

    I'm with the Secret Agent on the incest thing though. I know, I know, royalty did it all the time back then but I really hope there's none in the book.

    And have you entered the SA contest before with a beginning when Hatshepsut was a young girl? If so, I like this beginning a lot better.