Memories, ancient memories, live in the minds of us all. However, the window of opportunity to open our minds to these memories is short. A deeply troubled Kathryn Black is not only in the right place – the Egyptian Department of the British Museum – but she is also there at exactly the right time. Is this accidental good luck, or is she part of a bigger picture?
On leaving the museum, the one thing she knows with absolute certainty is that, despite having no knowledge of hieroglyphs, she read the name of Pharaoh Nakhtifi on an ancient artefact just before it went missing. No book makes any mention of his existence as he is unknown to Egyptologists. Kate, in the certainty that nobody would believe her, not even her best friend Alex – whose father is an authority on ancient Egypt – takes on the challenge of proving Nakhtifi’s existence to the world.
Using every trick at her disposal she arrives in Luxor. She even manages to ensure that Alex is on holiday there at the same time. They make friends with a young Egyptian, whose nickname is Cairo, and the three of them go looking for Pharaoh Nakhtifi. Unknowingly, they start on a journey to discover their own identity.
This page turning adventure takes place in modern Luxor, ancient Thebes, where any doubts Kate, Alex and Cairo had that ancients live in the modern world are instantly dispelled. The fear induced by an attack of three-thousand-year-old soldiers, whilst visiting a tomb in the Valley of the Kings, would make believers of even the most unbelieving. Red wine drinking Ramses the Great is just one of the historical figures who share in their success or failure. It is awareness of the past – disturbing, confusing and helpful, often all at the same time – which these three friends need if they are to live long enough to be able to obtain the answers they are looking for.
With his great knowledge of Egypt, both ancient and modern, the author immerses the reader into a world where fantasy and reality effortlessly blend, but also where friendship, wisdom, and a good shot of subtle humour are tremendously important.
Alex saw them first, shimmers up at the very top of the steps, just like the ones he had seen on their way up to the Valley of the Kings, though many, many more. Shimmers that could not be put down to a trick of the light, as these shimmers made noise. Even from this distance he could see that they took on the form of semi-transparent people with faces and clothes. There were also flashes on the tomb walls, as if light was being reflected off polished metal. They could now all make out the shimmers, they could also hear that the footsteps moved with military precision. As these sounds increased, they became aware of another sound, which they each strained to hear.
"What is that noise, Kate?" asked Alex. "There is something more than feet, but I can’t quite make it out."
Kate was trying to listen and gestured for quiet.
Cairo just looked at them both, as he wished that he was back helping his father at the Winter Palace, his adventurous spirit having well and truly left him.
"It’s a chant," said Kate.
Alex listened intently. He could just about make out a faint chant, which was in rhythm with the sound of their feet, as they marched down into the tomb. "You are right, Kate. Can you make out the forms, as I can see them much more clearly from here?" Alex had moved to the extreme right-hand side of the steps, so that when he looked up, his view was not as affected by the light from the entrance. Though they were far from half way down, Alex could indeed make out that they were soldiers, and soldiers who were armed, though soldiers from another time, an ancient time. If he had doubted Kate seeing the name of Nakhtifi before, and he had, he most certainly was not in any doubt now.
Kate and Cairo moved over to where Alex was standing. Upon seeing the advancing soldiers, Cairo turned away. He ran the few paces to the centre of the tomb, where he jumped up, grabbed hold of the top lip of the bottom of the sarcophagus, swung his legs up, struggled slightly before sliding inside through the smallest of small gaps, and was gone from view.
From: Book 1, The Luxor Curse, Chapter 10