Title: Valley of the Kings: The 18th Dynasty
Author: Terrance Coffey
Publisher: Kindle Press
Pages: 358
Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by:  John Murray

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Valley of the Kings” is a generational story following the rise and fall of Amenhotep IV during the 14th Century B.C.E. Pharaoh Amenhotep rule was controversial as he prayed to and garnered support from the god Aten, instead of the widely favored Amun. After his son is killed by a rival nation, Amenhotep falls ill and begins to hallucinate. His other son is physically deformed and deemed shunned by the gods leaving the potential for a power vacuum. Meanwhile, forces beyond either nation conspire to wrest control of Egypt back with brutal wars and tense backroom dealing. Political intrigue, supernatural mysticism, and spycraft abound as the various powers battle over religion, land, and the fate of entire nations. Generations rise and fall as the power shifts hands in a game of thrones that leaves the reader wondering who will finish on top.

Coffey’s obvious research and dedication to the subject matter shines in “Valley of the Kings”. Interjected historical documents lend the story a sense of legitimacy without drowning the action in detail or fact. While firmly rooted in history, the story is lively and engaging. As with most epics, don’t get attached to any one character. The tension remains taut because it is never clear who has control of the situation as pharaohs, oracles, princes, and queens can drop at any moment due to natural, supernatural, or man-made causes. The negatives, thankfully few in number, are not enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the book. The biggest issue was the sudden jumps in time without adequate contextual clues or provided cues. These can be jarring and would have been better if used as chapter breaks to highlight passing time. At times, the narrative flounders in historical information which breaks up the dramatic tension. Again, none of which is enough to truly detract from a fascinating generational epic.

“Valley of the Kings” is an engaging historical epic spanning generations and nations. The characters are all interesting and defined making it easy to follow, despite the difficult names to pronounce. Included maps and photographs of the main characters’ statues really hammer the point home that these trials and tribulations are real. The dramatic story follows a cycle of hubris that finds characters railing against the gods and circumstances, falling either to illness or violence, and a new power rising to grasp control. Historical and factual but beefed up with drama and intrigue for a story that spills blood and gold that shimmers in the brutal Egyptian sun.