Scroll of Saqqara was released as Mirage in the US and UK.
Prince Khaemwaset is a powerful man. He is the fourth son of Ramses the Great and a revered physician, his wisdom respected throughout Egypt. But Khaemwaset harbours a strong and secret desire—he dreams of finding the mysterious Scroll of Thoth, which will give its possessor the power to raise the dead and understand the language of everything living. Under the guise of legitimate historical research he opens and searches ancient tombs hoping to stumble upon this prize.
Searching among the burial ruins on the high plain of Saqqara he discovers, in a previously undisturbed tomb, a scroll sewn to the hand of a corpse. He cuts it free and takes it home, and though unable to translate it, he reads it aloud without understanding the words. The following day he catches a glimpse of a strange woman who becomes a fascination and then an obsession so violent that Khaemwaset destroys his family and degrades himself in order to possess her.
Only too late does he realize that in giving voice to the spell written on the scroll he has released an instrument of the god Thoth for revenge on the Prince for his many desecrations of sacred places.
Richly detailed with the exotic realities of Ancient Egypt, Scroll of Saqqara is a compelling tale of power, lust, and obsession.
“Pauline Gedge’s powerful historic imagination, capable of filling epic canvases with characters affectingly human, though larger than life, has had full scope in Scroll of Saqqara, a foray into the twilight zone of ancient Egypt.” – The Toronto Star
“Gedge has brought Egypt alive… Laid over a complex plot, well-crafted characters, and the shining splendour that was Egypt, Scroll of Saqqara is a simple and heartfelt tale of human frailty.” – Quill & Quire
“The destruction of a noble, ancient Egyptian family, precipitated by violation of an ancient taboo, is traced with vibrant detail… Gedge vividly renders the exotic, sensuous world of ancient Memphis, the domestic rituals, the social ambience of superstitions and spells.” – Publishers Weekly
“…a complex story with several threads – romantic, mysterious and tragic – it engrosses the reader from first page to last.” – The Globe and Mail
“Pauline Gedge interweaves four of the world’s most powerful myths which have formed the basis of culture, legends and stories since the beginning of humankind, successfully combining romance, mystery and speculative fiction in a book that transcends all three genres.” – Edmonton Journal
“…a chilling tale of the lure of the unknown; of greed, lust and duplicity… spellbinding fun.” – Ottawa Sun
“…a tale of ancient magic and horror that lives entirely in its time and brings that horror to life for the modern reader… a riveting book… ancient Egypt is a time and place Pauline Gedge has made her own…” – Saskatoon Star-Phoenix
“…rich in atmosphere and detail of a fascinating time and place…” – Books in Canada
Pauline’s notes on Scroll
My original title for this ghoulish story was Mirage, but Penguin Canada thought that Scroll of Saqqara was more appropriate to the plot.
An ancient Egyptian legend concerning Prince Khaemwaset, a son of the Pharaoh Ramses the Third, tells the story of his search for a magic scroll that would give him the power to understand the language of birds and animals, and to raise the dead. He was in fact ‘hired’ by his father the King to inspect Egypt’s monuments and repair or restore any that were in danger of falling into decay. This gave him a perfect opportunity to look for the scroll. According to the legend he found it – with dire consequences to himself and the members of his family.
I loved this myth, adapted it slightly, and turned it into a work of fiction. It was fun to write, even though the Prince’s fate was dire!
Scroll of Saqqara (Mirage) has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Polish, Czech, Turkish, Norwegian, Romanian and Russian.