The Lords of the Two Lands trilogy brings the reader on the sad and tortuous but ultimately victorious journey to liberate Egypt from the Setiu and restore the rule of the Pharaohs after a fractured and dangerous time.
Excerpts from Pauline’s notes:
“This story unfolded naturally in three parts, one leading seamlessly into the next, and was written as one large work before being divided.
When my elder son was young he became obsessed with mummies. He would comb my bookshelves looking for the most gruesome pictures he could find of the Egyptian dead, and then pore over them. I had no objection to his interest until he began to have nightmares, at which point I removed and hid the books. The corpse he turned to most often was a famous one, the body of a Seventeenth Dynasty Prince called Seqenenra.
The evidences of his violent death are on his skull. There are five terrible wounds made by a battle axe – two on his forehead, one between his eyes, one near his temple and one on his left cheek below his eye. The death blow probably came from a spear-thrust behind his left ear.
However, Seqenenra’s hands are curled inward from the wrist and one leg is deformed, and there is evidence that the edges of the bone on the major wound just above his forehead were growing together again. Therefore he had been attacked some months before he finally died in battle; struck on the head with such force that his brain was affected and he was left maimed.
This man was very brave. In spite of his injuries he fought the first battle in a war against foreigners from the east who had taken advantage of a time of chaos and a weakened administration to conquer Egypt without resistance. We know them as the Hyksos. The native Egyptians called them Setiu.
Following the Twelfth Dynasty, which marked the end of the so-called Middle Kingdom in Egyptian history, there was a long period of political and social upheaval. Order broke down. The country became weak. One ruler followed another, often so rapidly that they are considered to have been contemporaneous with each other. For a long time foreign tribesmen living east of Egypt had been allowed into the lush fields of the Delta to temporarily pasture their animals. However, taking advantage of this time of distress they began to settle in Egypt. More of their compatriots followed. Insinuating themselves into a febrile Egyptian government they soon achieved control of the country and began to rule from their Delta capital, Het-Uart, the House of the Leg. The Setiu cared little for what went on in southern Egypt although they had established a military presence in the southern towns and relied on the governors, both foreign and native Egyptian, to maintain their hold.
For two hundred years they ruled the country. But in the southern town of Weset, known to us as Thebes, there lived a Prince who traced his ancestry back to the original line of kings. Because of this he and his four sons were a threat to Apepa, the Setiu who now occupied the Horus Throne. But Prince Seqenenra had caused no trouble, paying his taxes to the usurper in Het-Uart and minding the business of his own corner of the country, until a letter arrived from Apepa that changed everything.
The first novel in the trilogy, The Hippopotamus Marsh, deals with Seqenenra and his doomed quest to free Egypt from the foreigners. He was killed during his first battle with Apepa’s forces but his remaining sons, Kamose and the younger Ahmose, continued the fight. Kamose is at the centre of the second novel in the trilogy and Ahmose is left to conquer or die in the third.
The women of Seqenenra’s family were heroes in their own right. Altogether the tale of Egypt’s ultimate freedom through the bravery and sacrifice of one family who simply wanted to live free is one that captured and held my imagination and admiration. I have always enjoyed exploring military strategy and found pleasure in writing accounts of the various obstacles met and overcome by each man, particularly by Kamose, whose gradual progress towards the Delta with his army necessitated many heartbreaking decisions that eventually threatened his reason.
I also enjoyed trying to solve the few small mysteries that the history of this time does not explain for us. How, for example, does one poison every source of water in a five-mile long oasis a hundred miles from civilization when the need to do so arises urgently and without warning?
Lords of the Two Lands was an exhausting labour of which I am truly proud. The research is accurate and the characters drawn as closely to their ancient reality as is honestly possible.
I took a long break after typing ‘The End’.”
Download the trilogy as an ebook from Penguin here.