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Rise of the Golden Cobra
Aubin, Henry T.; Rise of the Golden Cobra. Toronto, ON Canada: Annick Press, 2007. $12.95 (pap), ISBN Paper 1-55451-059-7 (pap).

Note: Nebi, 14 years, enters battle to defend Egypt alongside King Piankhy. This epic adventure reveals a little known chapter in ancient history when the reign of an Nubian king dramatically changed the course of events. (CABA Honor)


The Rise of the Golden Cobra is a novel set in ancient Egypt aimed at ages 11 and up. The author, Henry T. Aubin, is a Canadian journalist who previously researched and wrote a historical book for adults entitled _The Rescue of Jerusalem: The Alliance between Hebrews and Africans in 701 BC.

The Rise of the Golden Cobra covers the same time period. It focuses on Nebi, an Egyptian teenager who by chance learns of some politically important information that has the potential to change the course of history. After witnessing a murder, Nebi escapes to Kush in Nubia, whose king Piankhy at the time ruled Nubia and southern Egypt. He shares the information with the king, leading Piankhy to launch a military campaign to liberate northern Egypt from the rule of the Libyan king Tefnakht. Nebi joins the army on this adventure, befriending Piankhy's nephew and Egypt's future king Shebitku. The novel follows the campaign northward.

With its strong focus on the military and battles, the book will likely be of more interest to boys than girls. This is unfortunate, because during the rule of the Nubian pharaohs of Dynasty 25, one of the pharaohs' female relatives, who held the title of Divine Adoratrice, always lived at Thebes and was responsible for the day-to-day administration of Egypt. With the exception of only a few female pharaohs, this makes this a rare period when women wielded great power in Egypt. While the Divine Adoratrice Amonirdis does make brief appearances in the book, a more balanced picture of the roles both sexes played at this time in history would have been afforded if Aubin had given more prominence to Amonirdis in the story.

The novel promotes good ethics. The Egyptian concept of Maat is introduced in the story. It is explained that Maat meant honor, fairness, love of truth, righteousness, working hard, not cheating, respecting parents, and governing even-handedly and with justice. Aubin goes on to deftly weave the theme of Maat into the story, through actions that exemplify Maat, like Piankhy's choosing to feed a hungry city he had besieged once they surrendered, rather than cause them further deprivation or make them suffer punishment. The novel also does an excellent job of relating Piankhy's concern for animal welfare. The incident in which he is angered by a conquered ruler's neglect of his own horses is extensive and poignant. A scene in which Nebi is forced to eat raw horseflesh to survive in the desert, however, might be a little too much for some animal lovers.

While the book is strong on military strategy, it is not without its problems. Aubin seems to be less informed about Egyptian flora and landscape. He introduces many plant anachronisms, starting on the first page, from cotton to orange trees to bamboo, all which were not introduced into Egypt until a couple thousand years later. The battles also often take place in rolling meadows, a terrain that is completely foreign to Egypt, both ancient and modern.

The Rise of the Golden Cobra is recommended as a generally good introduction to the time period it covers, with caveats. It is faithful to the historical text on which it is based, the Piankhi Victory Stela; but as a story the novel is rather male and battle oriented. The story could have been made more appealing without losing accuracy if Aubin had broadened his focus and used other historical knowledge of the period to enhance the plot to cover non-military and female aspects of life in Dynasty 25.
Copyright © 2007 by Africa Access, all rights reserved. Africa Access permits the redistribution and reprinting of this work for nonprofit, educational purposes, with full and accurate attribution to the author, web location, date of publication, originating list, and Africa Access Review. For any other proposed use, contact AfricaAccess@aol.com

Rating: R Grade: M / H Type: Book

Reviewed by: Nicole Hansen, Ph.D.http://www.glyphdoctors.com

Subject: Ancient Egypt, / Piankhy / Kush / Nubia / Fiction / CABA Honor