Thursday, March 6, 2014

Tutankhamen Speaks - Book Review


Tutankhamen Speaks by Cheryl Carpinello is my first book for Carpinello who writes middle grade (MG) and young adult (YA) fiction. Carpinello says Tutankhamen Speaks will be a companion book to her MG/YA Sons of the Sphinx series. The way the story is written reminds me a bit of Mohamed Salmawy’s Ten Egyptian Papyri, which were translated from Ancient Egyptian to modern Arabic.

Tutankhamen Speaks is written in the first person from young Tut’s point of view. Carpinello notes at the beginning that she begins by using Tutankhaten and later Tutankhamen depending on the deity at the different parts of his life. The same applies to his half-sister Ankhesenpaaten, who later becomes Ankhesenpamun.

There are some interesting – if not adorable – descriptions from the point of view of a child, like when Tutankhaten sees an elephant for the first time. He says “The animal ceased that horrible noise, turned around, and followed the man out the door. That was when I saw the tail. What a funny addition to such a large animal!
The tail was puny, short, and sickly looking. If the head of this animal was too small for the enormous body, then the tail was woefully out of place.

In this short novella, there is a subtle romance between Tutankhaten and his half-sister Ankhesenpaaten, which is evident from the beginning of the story. The reader learns towards the end that marriages within the family are done to ensure the royalty of the bloodline so there is no problem with Tut marrying his half-sister.

There is also a quick – and subtle - reference to the power struggle when Tutankhamen ascends the throne at age 12. He says “At twelve, while not the youngest ever to rule Egypt, I was certainly one of the most inexperienced.

Carpinello tells me that Sons of the Sphinx does not pick up where Tutankhamen Speaks ends, but “incorporates those ideas into its quest story.” Overall Tutankhamen Speaks is an interesting and very quick read and I look forward to Sons of the Sphinx.