The Awakening Aten envelops the reader in an Egypt of whispers and fears, of webs within webs, deceit upon deceit. Its themes of murder, intrigue, political and religious conflict, corruption, tomb robbing, war and executions are set against a background of fundamental ideological change.
Ancient Egypt is seen through the eyes of two families; one royal, the other commoner. Yuya, whose tomb is in the Valley of the Kings, is a foreigner who rises from slavery to become Regent to an infant Pharaoh and thus, the most powerful man in the world’s wealthiest empire. His children and descendants will remain at the very heart of the country’s destiny. Kha is a tomb painter and builder who experiences both the despair of imprisonment and the horror of war. As Overseer of the King’s Works he restores the Great Sphinx, and inscribes the ‘Dream Stela’ placed between its paws, still visible today. Through tragic and deathly events his family and that of Yuya become entwined.
This is the fictional tale of real people, whose possessions and artefacts can be seen in museums throughout the world. It gives a voice to those people, inspired by their personal items, buried with them 3,000 years ago.
I’m delighted to welcome author Aidan K. Morrissey with an excerpt from his novel The Awakening Aten.
This is near the beginning of Chapter 12, and is where we first meet Nahkt.
Nahkts work, relieving the dead of their wealth, started during the reign of the old King Thutmose IV. The cost of constructing and decorating his own tomb on the west bank of the river, in the site reserved for noblemen, was proving expensive. He wanted the best for himself and Tawy, his much younger wife, a renowned chantress in the cult of Amun. They may not have been of exalted rank in this life but he would ensure that in the afterlife they would be well prepared and provisioned.
Turning right, then left and left again, in what might appear as random changes, he finally arrived, sweating, outside a larger than normal house, the size of which was disguised by the surrounding buildings.
Nahkt entered the house and climbed the staircase to the open roof area. His appointment was with the man now sitting on a long couch in a corner of the rooftop. He was being served food and wine by two young naked serving girls. He was dressed in a long colourless gown but each of his fingers was adorned by gold and silver rings. Around his neck was a gold necklace worth more than Nahkt could possibly imagine.
Khonsu, you will get us both killed, what in the name of Amun are you doing?
Drinking wine and eating goose like royalty. What is the matter with you Nahkt?
He smiled at Nahkt. It was not a pretty sight. Only two teeth were visible, his gums blackened by disease.
You cant display such wealth if anyone sees you, questions will be asked. The answers wont be welcomed by the police or soldiers.
Relax priest. No-one can see me and I like to enjoy the spoils for a while, until we melt it all down.
These two girls can see you do they not have tongues?
Oh yes they do but they know if they ever use those tongues in a way which does not please me, they can be removed along with their eyes.
His left hand moved to his side and he picked up a large blade and licked the sharp side whilst staring at the younger of the two serving girls. Revulsion and fear filled her eyes. Nahkt vowed it was time to find a new business partner.
Do you have the plans? Nahkt tried to suppress his anger.
I have what was agreed, do you?
Nahkt nodded towards one of his bodyguards who produced a large pouch from under his robe.
This is what was agreed.
Agreed maybe, but no longer enough.
Khonsu was grinning, or at least his mouth was open in what might have been a grin.
Dont play games with me Khonsu, what was agreed is agreed. Its there in front of you. Dont make me angry.
This is no game oh mighty Nahkt. What I have for you is the route to unimaginable riches. Its worth a little more than we discussed. Let me have the pouch which is hidden under the robe of that other servant of yours. Oh my, he is such a beautiful boy for a Nubian.
Let me see what you have first, said Nahkt.
Khonsu leaned forward and retrieved, from under the couch, a rolled papyrus. Nahkt moved forward to take it. Khonsu pulled it away.
Oh no, Nahkt, like with these new wives of mine you can look and lust after but not touch until you pay. He opened the papyrus roll and Nahkt could make out the drawings and the map.
How do I know this is what you claim it to be?
Have I ever deceived you before? This has come from the grandson of the man responsible for the tombs sealing, its genuine.
Nahkt leaned forward to get a closer look, it looked authentic and it could always be verified later. He smiled at Khonsu and spoke briefly to the Nubian guard whose beauty Khonsu had so admired. The Nubian moved his left hand under his robe and produced a pouch, identical to the one his brother had still in his hand. He dropped the pouch on the couch beside Khonsu, who reacted instinctively, trying to catch it. As he did so, the Nubian took the papyrus roll in his left hand and passed it behind him to the waiting hands of Nahkt. In the same move he drew a sword with his right hand and almost totally removed the head of the supine Khonsu.
The scream of one of the serving girls was halted quickly by his brothers blade. The second girl fell to her knees and grabbed the hem of Nahkts robe. The guard who had so smoothly dispatched the toothless Khonsu bent down and gently placed his hands on the girls shoulders. She tensed but then relaxed at the gentleness of his touch. Almost as a caress he moved one hand around her back to her throat and swiftly broke her neck. His master would not be happy if blood spattered his robe.
Search the house and bring anything of value.
Nahkt went down the mud stairs and stood in the doorway with the precious papyrus concealed safely inside his robe. He waited as the bodyguards removed the gold and jewellery from the recently departed Khonsu and his serving girls and searched the three downstairs rooms of the house. Certain nothing of value had been left, they stood behind Nahkt. With the gold and silver well hidden, the three walked calmly, but assuredly, away from the carnage above and made their way to the home of Nahkt.
About the author
I am of Irish heritage and was the first member of my immediate family to be born outside of Ireland. My professional life has caused me to travel the world. I am now looking forward to settling in the North East of England, to concentrate on writing.
A graduate in Law from Leicester University, after working for some years in a commercial environment, I qualified as a Solicitor in 1981.
My career developed in an unusual way and I have lived and worked at various times in Italy, Brazil, the United States, India and Germany.
I have always had a love and fascination for history. A holiday in Egypt sparked a particular passion for Ancient Egypt, especially the latter part of the 18th Dynasty. A history, which Pharaoh Horemeb (Djeser-Kheperu-Ra circa 1319-1292 BCE) tried to destroy and which only came to light following the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.
‘The Awakening Aten’ is the culmination of many years of research.
I have built up a substantial collection of academic books and novels on Ancient Egypt, its customs, traditions and daily life. I am fortunate to have been able to visit all of the major museums containing artefacts from Egypt throughout the world, as well as spending months in Egypt itself studying the funereal valleys and other sites. All of this supplemented by internet research.
This novel is the first in a plannned five book series, looking at the fictional lives of real people through a period of major political and religious change, spanning approximately 130 years.
My hobbies are reading, which I enjoy as much as I do writing, and taking bracing walks along the North East Coast and in the Northumberland Hills.
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