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Thursday, December 6, 2012
1:33 pm est
A Timely Adventure
There is a neat, new feature at the
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. While conservation staff members clean and restore various
ancient Egyptian artifacts, visitors can watch through a glass wall and ask questions while the conservators work. This definitely
puts you up close and personal with the exhibit—at least with its caretakers. But what if you could actually meet and
interact with the artifacts themselves? I mean, really chat with the mummies. Imagine what they would say...or do.
This concept is deftly explored in a fascinating novel I just read: Pharaoh's Lightning1 by a new, emerging, talented author, M.B. Nasdeo, who told me during an interview this afternoon that once she
started the book, it "basically wrote itself.". Here's the imaginatively creative gist: King Tut has come back to
life in corporeal form, searching for his concubine, Resha—the "love of his life—whose mortal remains were
removed from his tomb. The Boy King's appearances spark fear and panic in city residents, but fire up international media
interest. Kelly Jordan, a feisty, adventuresome young photojournalist, sent on assignment by her Chicago newspaper to Cairo,
is to capture images of the risen ruler. But when she and Jeff, the reporter assigned to write the story, investigate the
anomaly of Tutankhamen's appearances, they discover she is the spitting image of Resha. Tut claims Kelly as his own, sweeps
her back in time to the Fourth Century B.C., and this fast-paced adventure begins.
While recently published
this past summer, Pharaoh's Lightning was written a number of years ago during a difficult time, Nasdeo explains, when she needed an escape. The decision to write
about King Tut was easy, as she has always held a fascination for ancient Egyptian history. Tutankhamen appeared on the pages
of her vivid imagination in a flash, just as he does in the pages of her novel through bursts of lightning. The main protagonist,
the author explained, "is a lot like me. She is who I would have liked to have been at the time I was writing about her—strong,
self-willed. I've grown into the character since them." Kelly, like her other characters, "just carried me along
as the story unfolded...." When Kelly/Resha is transported into the huge pyramid from which the resurrected King Tut
commands his vast kingdom, she progresses from a meek and mild, young journalist into a powerful woman and household member,
who stands up for herself and her lover against Tut's shrewd and shrewish wife and those who conspire to usurp the throne.
Kelly becomes as individualistically strong and capable as Nasdeo is a strong and capable writer. She, like the other characters
who enhance this well-written first literary effort, is a believable true-to-life persona, who sets her own ground rules with
and for young Tut.
Surprisingly, besides the good adventure story, I found Nasdeo's novel to also be an analogy
of today's cultural and political society. While purely unintentional, the author, through crafted character dialogue, thoughts,
and actions touches upon a few modern issues, including animal cruelty, individual safety, women’s rights, and physical
abuse. While these passages could easily have been annoyingly preachy, they are well written enough to add to the overall
impact of the novel, fleshing out its characters and their raison d'etre. For example, spoiled, self-absorbed Bakratsu, the
king's wife, becomes the epitome of a bullying brat, spurred on by her controlling and plotting mother. She is the foil to
Resha's heartfelt attempts to save King Tut from an early demise (does she???)—and is very much like any modern-day
spoiled and demanding adolescent. King Tut, at one point, in despair, asks why people just can't get along so that he can
attend to ruling the country fairly and justly. Does any of this sound familiar? Some things never change--and some people
never learn—even after three thousand years.
While the jacket cover states this is primarily historical
fiction, Pharaoh's Lightning is a satisfying blend of romance, adventure, history, mystery, and intrigue, with a dash of mysticism. "It wasn't planned
this way," Nasdeo stated. "It just came that way….and I hope it will appeal to just about every audience,
every reader who would like a good adventure." Well, it did appeal to me—closeted adventurer that I am—and
I am certain Kelly Jordan's first adventure2 will appeal to you, as well. As the author's inscription says in my
copy: "Live the adventure! Enjoy the ride!". That is what reading a well-told tale is all about.
1 © 2012 by M. B. Nasdeo. 215 pages, paperback; first edition. Published by KFR Communications,
Inc., New Egypt, NJ.
2 The author has assured me that Kelly's next adventure, set in lost Atlantis,
is forthcoming. It promises to be as intriguing a read as this one was. I eagerly look forward to it.
J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is
an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations,
volumes of poetry, stories
for children (of all ages) and
a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Phoenix Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of
Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World
Rainbow in the Sky
of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A
Collection of More Spiritual Poems
We Three Kings
Beauty and the Beast
Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding
Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She
is currently working on her sixth novel.