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Set against the rich tapestry of ancient Egypt, Luxor: Book of Past Lives is the story of Nebamun and Iramen, two brothers who are embalmers in Egypt during the era of the boy king, Tutankhamun. It is their duty to prepare the many bodies of the dead who land on their embalming table for a journey into the afterlife.
Paralleling this ancient tale is the story of two different brothers, Abdul and Karim, who make their living by robbing the ancient tombs of Egypt in the late 1800s, when the theft and sale of artifacts was at its peak. Woven throughout the novel are the mysterious intersections of the brothers' lives, though separated by thousands of years. Luxor: Book of Past Lives is a masterful blend of fiction and historical detail, each chapter offering a window into the past, with details gleaned from countless historical accounts. It is a riveting tale of violence and greed, riches and poverty, and good and evil in the time of the pharaohs and beyond.
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Book of the Dead
Devotees of the mysteries of ancient Egypt will find this to be a highly accessible rendering of its culture, while readers of crime novels are treated to the underworld of tomb robbers. The plot points nimbly leap back and forth between the two timelines over a span of more than 30 centuries.
Nebamun and Iramen are brothers who are priests and embalmers during the era of the boy king, Tutankhamun, around 1323 B.C. Abdul and Karim are also brothers: dedicated to robbing the tombs of Egypt to feed a 19th century tourist trade. Both stories are lively and informative ones, especially as they begin increasingly to intersect.
The book can be grisly at times, not only for descriptions of the embalming process, but for scenes of violence and torture. But not gratuitously so; life in both eras could be brutal.
Barry Shannon delivers a solid narration and plays all the major characters well.
One curious, minor grammatical note: the verb “lay” is incorrectly used instead of “lie” almost every time it occurs.
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