The Twice Born is Volume I in the King’s Man trilogy.
It is the waning years of the 18th Dynasty, some eleven years before the end of Thothmes III’s long reign. The four-year-old son of a peasant farmer is lifted out of his background by his loving and well-to-do uncle, who decides this bright youngster could be educated to become a scribe. As supplier of perfumes and oils to kings, priesthood, nobles and upper classes, his connections ensure that the pupil’s school is one of the best in Egypt.
There young Huy will be the only student of humble origin, a factor that will loom large in the devastating event that befalls him but from which he is reborn an extraordinary Seer – and eventually, in Book III, virtual ruler of Egypt.
Book I, which takes us to Huy’s eighteenth year, brings us the fabulous atmosphere of Egyptian life and culture that is Pauline Gedge’s trademark. Here again the life of ancient Egypt, from peasant to high priest to king; its religion, the cycle of the land and its seasons all shimmer in our minds as we read.
Huy is a strange and mysterious figure out of history, and in the three novels of the King’s Man trilogy Pauline Gedge gives us his fascinating story and those of a captivating cast of supporting characters.
“…if you want to be immersed in the life of ancient Egypt, this novel will delight you.” – Calgary Herald
“Gedge has a great talent for building atmosphere… Most vivid of all in The Twice Born is the texture and substance of ancient Egyptian religion and theology. Gedge fuses the remnants of sacred texts neatly with imagined interpretation and priestly analysis.” – Winnipeg Free Press
“Readers looking to immerse themselves in a strange and ancient culture will find much to savour in The Twice Born[which] wears its scrupulous research proudly. From daily life in boarding schools and the homes of rich and poor alike to sacred rituals and courtly protocols, Gedge paints a completely convincing portrait of an utterly alien world… Reading this book will delight newcomers to ancient Egypt and satisfy ardent amateur Egyptologists.” – Edmonton Journal
“In The Twice Born, Gedge brings history to life with a tale inspired by the curious story of a peasant-born boy who gained a reputation as an infallible fortuneteller and healer and died a more powerful man than the pharaoh himself… The Twice Born is another dramatic portrait of a fabled time and civilization along the Nile.” – Saskatoon Star Phoenix
Pauline’s notes on the King’s Man trilogy
I wrote the Lords trilogy as one novel. It subsequently divided naturally into three volumes, but by the time the first, The Hippopotamus Marsh, was published, I was exhausted. I took a great deal of time off, and when I felt ready to write again I deliberately chose a character from the Eighteenth Dynasty, Huy Son of Hapu, who seemed mysterious enough to allow me the freedom to happily fictionalize him. But the research quickly made it clear that the man would not be so easy to explain.
History has left us no record of him before he was summoned to the court of Pharaoh Amunhotep the Third, one of Egypt’s greatest kings, except the names of his parents, his brother, and the few other members of his family. He was born, and lived for approximately the first fifty years of his life, at Hut-herib, a small Delta town. Within nine years of having answered the royal command to present himself before the Horus Throne he had risen to become the virtual ruler of the country, in charge of everything from trade and taxes to the distribution of Egypt’s naval and infantry forces.
How had this happened? What was there about Huy that not only brought him to the attention of the King but kept him in total power until his death as an old man in his eighties? In The Twice Born I have attempted to answer this question. I began with Huy as a spoilt child about to be sent away to school, where something terrible and yet miraculous took place which was to change his fate for ever. I ended the novel with an eighteen-year-old Huy and his childhood friend and servant Ishat moving onto an estate granted to him by the grateful King Amunhotep the Second. The reason for His Majesty’s gratitude was something startlingly unique. Huy settles down in comfort.
By the time we meet Huy again in the second volume, Seer of Egypt, his life and that of Ishat seem cheerfully predictable, but Huy lives under the constant scrutiny of Atum, creator god, who in return for a most unusual favour has demanded that Huy decipher the ancient and well-nigh incomprehensible Book of Thoth, dictated by Atum to the god of scribes, the ibis-headed Thoth, at the dawn of history. Huy does not know why he must do this, and will not find out until the third and last novel in the series. At the end of Seer Huy is ordered to leave his pretty little estate and take his place as an advisor to the boy king Amunhotep and his mother, the Regent Mutemwia. His rapid rise to becoming the unackowledged pharaoh of Egypt has begun.
In Volume III it culminates in his death, by which time the common people were already worshipping him as a god, and I explain why.
The King’s Man trilogy has been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Hungarian.