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The Egyptian: A Novel [Paperback]

Mika Waltari , Lynda S. Robinson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2002 Rediscovered Classics
First published in the United States in 1949 and widely condemned as obscene, The Egyptian outsold every other novel published that year, and remains a classic; readers worldwide have testified to its life-changing power. It is a full-bodied re-creation of a largely forgotten era in the world’s history: the Egypt of the 14th century B.C.E., when pharaohs and gods contended with the near-collapse of history’s greatest empire. This epic tale encompasses the whole of the then-known world, from Babylon to Crete, from Thebes to Jerusalem, while centering around one unforgettable figure: Sinuhe, a man of mysterious origins who rises from the depths of degradation to become personal physician to Pharaoh Akhnaton.

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"Waltari successfully combine[s] research, imagination, and the cunning of a good tale-teller in bringing the generation of Akhnaton to life.” —New York Herald Tribune

"A grand immersion into an epic tale." —Philadelphia Inquirer

About the Author

Mika Waltari (1908–1979) is best known for his historical novels, which include The Etruscan and The Roman. He is widely considered the greatest Finnish writer of the 20th century.

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First Sentence
"I, SINUHE, the son of Senmut and his wife Kipa, write this." Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Captivating Tale Jan. 16 2012
By Frances
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you enjoy reading about Egypt during the 14th century, you should find this a fascinating read. For the most part I found it quite captivating and was totally immersed in the story, especially the bond developing between the main character Sinuhe and his slave Kaptah. Their story alone is well worth the read. I did find some parts repetitive and lengthy which was to some extent disappointing. But overall it was extremely well written with several strong characters throughout the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Historical Fiction at its best !!! Sept. 15 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this years ago - about 46 or so (when I was 15 and should have been studying for my exams ...)

I still remember it today as one of my favorite books. Can still remember the opening paragraph and just recently re-bought it to read it again.

A great book for anyone interested in historical fiction and Ancient Egypt
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of those books that really matter June 6 2004
I first read The Egyptian when I was 14 and just beginning to understand the beauty of more complex books. The first chapters didn't appear very interesting to me, but as I continued reading, I suddenly realized I had been swooped into an amazingly realistic ancient world full of excitement, sorrow, wisdom and more. The whole experience was memorable since it's been very few times when a story I've been reading has felt as incredibly real as Sinuhe's story did. The Egyptian jumped right on the top of my list of best books.
Mika Waltari truly is the most skillful writer I know - where he learned it, I have no idea. His books, especially The Egyptian, have something that appeal to all kinds of people from all over the world. Perhaps it's the art of describing the feelings that each human being experiences sooner or later, and the way he is able to make a story from ancient Egypt seem like it could happen even today. People don't change, only their surroundings do.
The Egyptian is a wonderful and sad story. Especially recommended to everyone who likes history, but I really think that it's a great book for everyone who's interested in mankind - and in particularly good stories.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Full-bodied recreation of the 14th century BC Egypt April 18 2004
The Egyptian set in the Amarna period of Ancient Egypt during the reigns of the pharaohs Amunhotep III, Akhenaten and Horemheb, covering the concluding years of the 18th dynasty of the New Kingdom (1386 - 1293 BC), an ear in Egyptian history that was marked by significant religious and political upheaval. The Egyptian is Sinuhe, a physician of unknown birth origin who was wrapped and cradled in a reed boat floating down the Nile. As he narrates his life story, which transcended years of warfare, plague, and fierce battle between gods. On the outside The Egyptian delineates the history of Egypt through its inveterate religious devotion to many gods. At the core of the novel finds one man's lifelong journey through many countries, like Babylon, Crete, and Mitannia, to knowledge. Sinehu possessed such lonely idealism that motivated him to devote his life searching for something so intangible yet greater than he beyond his understanding did. He was not ready to merely worshipping the gods - in fact, he insisted on questioning traditions and thus marked him as an outsider of his own culture.
The spine of the novel concerns the ferocious contention between Aton and the Ammon. Pharoach Akhenaten sought to disestablish the old gods with a relatively unknown deity called the Aton as the Ammon, the present godly sponsor, had accumulated so much wealth and power that the Ammon priests began to rival to that of the Pharoach. In order to achieve balance of power between Ammon and the throne, Akhenaten deposed the ancient gods and established Aton as a new state divinity. No sooner had Akhenaten adopted the new deity than Sinuhe ineluctably became entangled in conflict between tradition and innovation.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Literary Masterpiece! March 10 2004
By A Customer
To say that the author made History come alive in this novel would be a huge understatement. This is a life changing book, with many life lessons. I have read many, many novels, however this book would be at the top of my list. Pure Genius!
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4.0 out of 5 stars The grand scope of humanity Jan. 31 2004
In this epic novel, Mika Waltari traces a portion of Egyptian history through the eyes of Sinuhe, the physician to the Pharaoh Akhnaton. His humble and mysterious origin colors his views as he bears witness to the winds of change in Egypt as the Pharaoh supplants the old gods for a new one, much to the dismay of his citizens. He also is witness to the rise of Horemheb, whom he calls a friend, as this military general defeats the encroaching Hittites and eventually becomes the next Pharaoh. Brilliantly illuminating life in ancient Egypt, Waltari entertains readers with a tale of love and loss, of war and tragedy, of friendship and betrayal. "The Egyptian" sometimes comes across as plodding or dry by modern standards, but the fascinating and flawed main character entrances readers to reach the final pages.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Nov. 10 2003
As a Finn I feel slight guilt over not having read Waltari at all before 2003. Prejudiced towards his era's Finnish authors or just against his name which for some peculiar reason represented something for "old generation" and boring, unenthusiastic way of story telling (who can claim Kalle Päätalo doesn't sound like a boring author too..). I read couple of his earlier works which haven't been translated into other languages I think and after those I was convinced that prejudice had ecclipsed the masteful story telling abilities of Mika Waltari. The Egyptian is the third Waltari book I have read. Doctor in ancient Egypt?? Written by a Finn and gotten huge success all over the world? Somewhat uncommon framework for a book and I had no idea what to expect. I did some cautious non-spoiling background digging in order to establish some sort of an idea of the book. I learned that egyptologists consider the book amazingly accurate description of the culture in that era and that Waltari had done his Egypt + surrouding areas research very well but had never visited Egypt. It is said that he didn't make notes about the facts but just remembered and understood the essence and wrote the book.
I found the story telling captivating and humour embedded in especially Kaptah's long monoloques in a dialoque with Sinuhe were hilarious. Yet this story has a lot of philosophical pondering which always fits the storyline and doesn't seem separate from the story. Hence a combination of things that make one stop to think and digest every once in a while and the entertaining and uplifting humour and tragicomedy. Simplicity and complexity of characters, cunning manipulation and clever psychology all coats the story with even more interesting aspects not to mention the adventure Sinuhe and Kaptah go through.
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