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Age of Ra by James Lovegrove
Review by Liz de Jager
Solaris Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781844167463
Date: 03 August 2009 List Price 7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

James Lovegrove is a long time fave writer of mine, the kind of author who is so choc-full of ideas that he's perhaps hard for publishers to profile. Each of his books offers up a different kind of delight - see these links for my reviews of Untied Kingdom, Provender Gleed and The Fledging Of Az Gabrielson) Lovegrove is a truly protean writer and in his latest offering he shows off his talents most fulsomely. The Age of Ra is published by Solaris as a trade paperback original and is reviewed in this issue by Liz de Jager.

"An alternate history of the world where the Egyptian gods have defeated all others and have carved up the planet between themselves. Only a band of Freedom Fighters and their enigmatic leader can free the Earth from their divine tyranny."

What if Egyptian gods were real? In fact, what if gods were real, across all the pantheons; Egyptian, Greek and Norse? What if a war was fought amongst the gods and their followers and one pantheon won? What would happen to our world then?

James Lovegrove's military science fiction novel, The Age of Ra, asks this question and gives the answer: the Egyptian gods beat all comers and subdivided earth between themselves. Europe belongs to Isis and Osiris with Asia belonging to Set, the US to Horus, Africa to Nephtys and Japan belonging to Anubis. Ra (the sun god) has given control to the earth to his children, the gods mentioned above who have been dubbed the First Family.

As with all families, they squabble amongst one another. And as the old occult saying goes: as above, so below. The earth is in a constant state of flux with various nations fighting against each other for supremacy. In all of this, we focus on David Westwynter a special operations officer in His Pharaonic Majesty's Service, currently in Arabia on a dangerous and covert mission with a group of his men. Things go hugely awry, most of his squad dies in an ambush and he escapes into the desert with a few men. David is rescued by a group of freedom fighters based in Freegypt and taken to meet a messianic figure called The Lightbringer who exerts amazing charisma, having unified the various warlords under his banner.

And that's the only bit of plot information I'm giving on The Age of Ra. Looking at the author's style of writing, his plotting, the pace of the novel, twists and turns - you can't ask for more. The human characters, David, the Lightbringer and David's (eventual love interest) Zafirah (a fierce female warrior who leads a company of men in the name of the Lightbringer) are well wrought and believable. As are their actions throughout the novel. The world building is excellent and the glimpses into Ra's quest for peace gives a clear perspective of the First Family and their squabbles.

The ending of the novel is satisfying, tying up the loose ends, but yet, but yet... there are two more books in the offing from the author in this series with each book focussing on another pantheon; Greek and Norse, respectively. The series has started with a bang and if James Lovegrove's writing is anything to go by in The Age of Ra, we are all in for a very big treat.

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