Lynda Robinson: Slayer of Gods

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Lynda Robinson Slayer of Gods
  • Название:
    Slayer of Gods
  • Автор:
  • Издательство:
    Grand Central Publishing
  • Жанр:
    Исторический детектив / на английском языке
  • Год:
    2009
  • Язык:
    Английский
  • ISBN:
    9780759524842
  • Рейтинг книги:
    4 / 5
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Slayer of Gods: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Lynda S. Robinson


Slayer of Gods

Chapter 1

Memphis, year five of the reign of the pharaoh Tutankhamun


Beauty the goose shuffled slowly through the forest of legs that blocked her way. She fixed her shortsighted gaze on the hard-packed earth in search of the occasional cricket. Around her, in the breezy coolness of late evening, servants gossiped in the kitchen yard. Oblivious to the sounds of lute, harp, and flute that floated from the house, Beauty never paused in her quest even when she encountered feet arrayed in a line in front of her. Above her women’s voices droned on, chattering and laughing.

Beauty’s small, flat head and beak remained pointed toward the ground. She took another step and pecked at a bare toe. Never lifting her beady gaze from the spot directly in front of her, Beauty took two more waddling steps, eyed another set of toes, and snapped at them. They danced out of her way.

She continued down the line of toes, never lifting her head, never varying from her course, certainly not avoiding the feet, until she reached the back gate. There she nipped at the ankle of the porter in one last ill-tempered and satisfying attack before she sauntered beyond the high wall that enclosed Golden House, the great mansion of Lord Meren, the Eyes and Ears of Pharaoh, Friend of the King, and advisor to the young ruler of the Egyptian empire, Tutankhamun.

Had she been a young, fat goose, Beauty would have soon ended up stewing in a pot. But since she was a pet, everyone had to put up with her menacing ways. She lived up to her name, however. The boldly patterned plumage on her head attracted attention. She had a black crown, hind neck, and facial marks against a white face, a black lower breast, and russet cheek patches and upper breast. Her short, thick neck was no hindrance to her bullying ways, nor was her small bill.


Not long after the goose terrorized the kitchen staff the animal’s owner came into the yard, her pace quick in spite of swollen joints and frail bones. “Beauty, where are you? Come to your mother, my little daub of honey.”

Satet passed among the servants congregated in the kitchen yard calling the goose’s name. She questioned many, always receiving a wave in the direction in which the goose had traveled, and receiving as well complaints from those ambushed by her evil-tempered pet.

“You know she’s aged,” Satet replied. “You should get out of her way.”

Hurrying toward the gate, Satet nodded at the guard. “You’re not supposed to go wandering,” he said. “You know Lord Meren dislikes it.”

“I’m not going to get lost again,” Satet retorted. “I’m searching for Beauty, and she can’t have gone far, so I’ll be back quickly.”

Before the guard could reply, Satet scurried into the dark street, muttering to herself. “Lord Meren indeed. He cares about me only because my sister served Queen Nefertiti.”

The old woman took a deep breath and let it out slowly. The furnacelike heat of day had ebbed from the hard ground beneath her feet, and her mood lightened the farther she walked from the gate. She was weary of being confined to the grounds of Golden House. True, it was a great estate within the city of Memphis, but Satet liked to travel about, visit the markets, docks, temples, and the wells at which people congregated to exchange news.

It was also true that her wits tended to wander a bit, but she wasn’t mad and didn’t deserve to be pestered and watched all the time. After all, it had been her sister, Hunero, who’d been Queen Nefertiti’s favorite cook. Lord Meren said Hunero had poisoned the queen’s food, but Hunero had been murdered too, and now Meren wanted Satet to tell him anything she could about Hunero’s life that might be of use. But Satet didn’t remember anything important. How could she? Queen Nefertiti had died years ago-eleven according to Lord Meren. Or was it longer? Oh, it wasn’t important, because the lives and doings of great ones had nothing to do with her. Exploration was far more interesting.

Ever since Lord Meren brought her here from the country Satet had taken advantage of the opportunity to see the sights of pharaoh’s greatest city, the capital of the vast Egyptian empire. Looking for Beauty when she wandered away served as the perfect excuse to explore the city.

Satet glanced up and down the street. Moonlight showed nothing to her left, but to her right she glimpsed something on the ground. Satet picked up a scrap of flat bread, the remnants of someone’s meal devoured in a hurry while on the run. Beauty was following a trail of food. Setting off down the street, Satet shook her head and grumbled.

“Wouldn’t have to sneak off to enjoy myself if that boy would leave me alone.”

She always called Lord Meren “boy,” ever since they’d first met in her sister’s old house. He’d been suspicious of Hunero from the beginning, and once that boy got hold of an idea, he didn’t let loose until he was completely satisfied he knew everything there was to know. Only last night he’d been after her again to recall Hunero’s doings when she’d worked for Queen Nefertiti.

It wasn’t fair, because Satet hadn’t been there. Hunero had been far away, in the queen’s household in the city called Horizon of the Aten. Satet hardly recalled anything her sister said about what went on in that city in the middle of nowhere. Oh, she knew it had been built by Nefertiti’s husband, the heretic pharaoh Akhenaten, who had nearly destroyed Egypt with his attempts to banish the old gods in favor of his own. But Satet had barely listened to Hunero’s ramblings about the old days at Horizon of the Aten. It had nothing to do with her.

“Can’t help it if I don’t remember,” Satet whined to herself. “Hunero was always bragging about being in service to the queen-may she live forever with the gods-but that was years ago. Who can remember all her boasts?”

Satet turned into another street. This one was wider, with old houses on either side that leaned toward each other. Ahead of her someone stepped into a house and closed the door, leaving the street deserted. If she shouted for Beauty, she’d rouse the whole street and get into trouble, so she half whispered, half hissed.

“Beauty!”

A flap of wings answered her, and Satet caught sight of Beauty as she snapped up something from the street and gobbled it down. The little beast had almost reached the well on the far end of the street. Satet hurried. She was approaching her seventieth year and had to stop a couple of times to catch her breath. The second time, she slowed her pace because Beauty was busy eating something beside the well. No sense hurrying now.

She might get back to the house and have to talk to that boy again. He’d been around too much lately. Wia, one of the family servants, said it was because he’d taken an arrow while fighting a traitor. The wound had festered, causing fever, and demons of infection invaded his body. No doubt the traitor’s evil ka, his soul, had tried to avenge itself upon Lord Meren.

Whatever the case, the boy had been confined to his bed, and the whole family had descended upon Golden House. Fear reigned for weeks, but he was strong, his ka equal to the challenge of fighting off the demons of disease. Now he was recovering, which meant that he had the strength to pester Satet. After being subjected to several sessions of his meaningless questions, Satet had finally lost her temper the previous evening.

“Why do you keep asking me these things? I don’t know if Hunero spoke to any strangers during the queen’s illness. Why don’t you ask her?” When Meren reminded her that Hunero was dead, she’d fended him off. “Then why don’t you go to Syene and ask the queen’s bodyguard? Sebek ought to know more than anyone. Quit pestering me, boy.”

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