Title: The Hippopotamus Marsh
Author: Pauline Gedge
Series: The Lord of the Two Lands #1
Sexual Content: Minimal
Objectional Content: Incest
Target Audience: Adults
Genre: Historical Fiction
Synopsis: After a gradual and mostly bloodless invasion, Egypt has fallen into the hands of a foreign power known as the “Rulers of the Upland.” Using subtle means of political power and economic country, plundering its riches and slowly subverting its religion and culture.
But there is one family in Thebes, claiming descent from the last true King of Egypt, that cannot accept the rule of the foreign king Apepa. Defying him becomes the only clear option for the persecuted yet proud Seqenenra Tao, Prince of Weset, whose shocking revolt sets in motion a series of events that will either destroy his family or resurrect a dynasty and an entire way of life for Egypt.
The Hippopotamus Marsh is a bit of a deviation for me from what I normally read. This is historical fiction, rooted in history, with no trace of fantasy at all. I have read other books by Pauline Gedge which were recommended to me by a friend. I enjoyed those books and I enjoyed this one.
I’ve always been interested in ancient Egypt and the different gods they worshipped. Pauline Gedge is amazing at bringing that ancient world to life. It is clear she has done her research and even includes a bibliography at the end of the book. The setting feels real and you can practically feel the heat of the Egyptian sun as you read.
Her choice of point of view leaves something to be desired, at least for me. The Hippopotamus Marsh is written in third person omnipotent, meaning that the character focus literally shifts between one character and another from one paragraph and the next. I’ve never really liked that. I like to be in the head of one character at a time and not switching around. The switch can be quite jarring.
The story itself is not quite what I expected. Once the head of the Tao family, Seqenenra decides that he can no longer abide the foreign king ruling Egypt, he sets in motion events that will either destroy his family or bring them to the highest level of greatness in Egypt. I was unable to predict how things were going to go and many things surprised me which was nice.
The characters felt like real people. They would make decisions that I could understand but at the same time shake my head at knowing that it would lead to nothing good. Lies lead to more lies afterall.
In ancient Egypt it was common for royal families to marry their siblings, so there is some incest in this book as Seqenenra’s oldest son and oldest daughter are married to one another. This was common practice and historically accurate. The sexual content is extremely minimal though.
Overall, I liked this book but I wouldn’t say that it wowed me to amazement. My rating for The Hippopotamus Marsh is 3 out of 5 stars and I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, especially Egyptian history.
Thanks for reading!