Review of Age of Ra by James Lovegrove

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As the cover denotes, this is a military science fiction adventure – but being James Lovegrove, it isn’t quite that straightforward…

ageofraDavid Westwynter, previous CEO of the famous Senet boardgame company, is a special operations officer in His Pharaonic Majesty’s Service on a covert mission in Arabia that goes wrong. Captured and narrowly escaping being blown to pieces, he is presumed dead by his own side and decides against escaping from his beautiful captor, when she leads him to The Lightbringer. This masked stranger has achieved the impossible – in the space of a few short years, he has managed to unite the warlords of Freegypt. This one part of the world has escaped being under the control of any of the destructive and uncaring Egyptian Pantheon, whose family feuds and squabbles have plunged Earth into habitual war for the past century. The Lightbringer promises to rid the world of these gods…

It is a fascinating premise. Lovegrove, being the writer he is, doesn’t spend much time filling in his complex world. In between skirmishes, we readers are expected to keep up, given the info-nuggets dropped by David and his comrades in arms. So this is a more demanding read than your average shoot ‘em up. However, despite the background complexity, there is plenty of action for the war-minded and I think this book would make a wonderful film.

I thoroughly enjoyed some delicious scenes featuring the gods themselves – who manage to make your average dysfunctional family appearing on the Gerry Springer Show look like the Waltons. Lovegrove’s depiction of the weary, well-meaning patriarch, Ra, is particularly smart and witty.

There are some interesting twists throughout the book – especially when it comes to revealing who the Lightbringer is. I initially was a bit uneasy at the choice, concerned that there were some colonial/right-wing views seeping into the story. Let’s face it, some military science fiction tends to be somewhat conservative in its political outlook. But Lovegrove is too sophisticated for that – and by the end, wraps everything up extremely well. To the extent that he has given an opening for the next two books, The Age of Odin and The Age of Zeus, which I shall definitely make an effort to read.
8/10

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