Winner of the 1985 Writers’ Guild of Alberta Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction
Egypt is at the peak of its power when Akhenaten ascends the throne – its empire vast, its borders strong, its might feared by neighbouring states. But unlike his people, who worship many deities, Akhenaten believes in the omnipotence of only one – Aten, the sun god – and his objective is to end the worship of any other.
Encouraged by his ambitious wife, Nefertiti, he builds a magnificent new city in the desert where he, as Pharaoh, is worshipped as the incarnation of Aten. But he is weak and unstable, naïve in matters of diplomacy, and driven by sexual appetite for members of his own family. As the affairs of Egypt decline he is scorned by his courtiers and mocked by the rulers of tribes that once feared Egypt, while his mother, the Empress Tiye, struggles to regain her influence and make Egypt strong again before it is too late.
Full of pageantry, passion and intrigue, The Twelfth Transforming is a suspenseful and absorbing read.
Excerpts from English-language reviews of The Twelfth Transforming
“What the great Renault did for ancient Greece, Gedge is doing for ancient Egypt.” – Palo Alto Times Tribune
“…a lustrous tale of Pharaonic decadence… told in the quiet tone of an intimate chronicle…” – New York Times
“It’s an immense achievement… to have created a sunlit world of living people.” – Books in Canada
“…blends impeccable historical research with superb fiction… draws the reader completely into the splendor and pageantry of a rich and complete civilization… a cast of characters so memorable that they seem to breathe on every page…” – Cleveland Plain Dealer
“In this second superior epic of ancient Egypt (Gedge) again achieves Mary Renault-ish grandeur… a centuries-old mystery is pursued with unobtrusive scholarship…” – Kirkus Reviews
“…evoked with stunning realism in the multicolored tapestry of an ancient tragedy.” – Publishers Weekly
“…succeeds admirably in both whetting and gratifying our curiosity…” – Winnipeg Free Press
“…it is possible to close your eyes after reading Gedge’s words and see and feel the beauty of Thebes and the ethereal stillness of Amarna.” – Ocala Star Banner
“…makes ancient Egypt come alive… historical fiction at its best…” – The Daily Oklahoman
Pauline’s notes on Twelfth
I originally had no intention of adding to a fairly long list of novels about Akhenaten. He has been called the first monotheist in history, the first poet and mystic, an enlightened (and therefore ‘modern’) man standing shoulders above the pharaohs who came before him and those who followed. He is famous for attempting to abolish monotheism in the Egypt of the eighteenth dynasty, for his hymn to the Aten which closely parallels Psalm 104 in the Old Testament, and for being the husband of the beautiful Nefertiti. Few seem to care that in the mere seventeen years of his reign Egypt went from the greatest empire in the ancient world to the impoverished prey of lesser nations.
Representations of him show him as distinctly mal-formed, with thick thighs, a sagging belly, round shoulders over breasts that are almost female in their size and shape, an elongated face, and a misshapen skull. Speculation regarding the cause of these unfortunate afflictions has ranged from Frohlich’s Syndrome, a tumour on the pituitary gland causing problems with the gonads, or more recently, Marfan’s Syndrome, a genetic disorder resulting in weakened connective tissues throughout the body. What is certain is that Akhenaten’s brother Smenkhara was beginning to show the same physical abnormalities at puberty, representations of Akhenaten’s daughters depict them with elongated skulls, and Tutankhamun’s mummy is not exempt from mild indications of this curse. The problem with Frohlich’s Syndrome is that a male sufferer cannot himself father males. Akhenaten had six daughters.
I personally do not believe that Tutankhamen was his son. The evidence points to the Empress Tiye, wife of King Amunhotep the Third, who ruled Egypt at the height of that country’s riches and power, as his mother. His father? I researched this thorny question exhaustively, and came to the conclusion that he was fathered by someone other than Amunhotep the Third.
As I said, I had no intention of producing anything about Akhenaten, but shortly after Stargate was published a close friend of mine, a fellow amateur Egyptologist, gave me a book that sparked my interest. It was called Oedipus and Akhnaton: Myth and History, by Immanuel Velikovsky.
At the time Velikovsky was being villified by the scientific community for his theories regarding the cataclysmic nature of change within our solar system. In fact during one memorable and shameful symposium he was hissed and booed at so loudly that he was unable to finish his address and was forced to leave the podium. However, in recent years his theories are being re-evaluated. Many have been proved correct, though unhappily he did not live long enough to enjoy his vindication.
But back to Akhenaten. Velikovsky posited that the horrifying legend of Oedipus Rex was based on real historic events and took place in Egypt, not Greece. The ‘Thebes of a hundred gates’ of the story could not have been the Greek Thebes – a small village at the time the tale is set. But Thebes in Egypt was a large, bustling city – with those hundred gates. Velikovsky goes on to carefully take the Oedipus story apart and put it together again with new and startling results. I based The Twelfth Transforming on both my own research and that done by Velikovsky, and recommend his book to anyone interested in the disaster which Akhenaten’s rule of Egypt became.
The Twelfth Transforming has been translated into French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Polish, Norwegian, Czech and Russian.