Title: Shadow Hawk
Author: Andre Norton
Major Themes: Ancient Egypt, Hyksos
Synopsis: After his father’s sudden death, Rahotep finds himself caught up in more intrigue and danger than he ever dreamed of, as he tries to help drive the Hyksos out of Egypt.
There are not many historical novels out there about Ancient Egypt. I was able to find Shadow Hawk, however, so I decided to read it as part of our study of that culture. It ended up being quite an interesting story, though pretty gruesome at times.
Rahotep, in the beginning of the story, was leading a group of archers on the border of Kush, trying to keep Egypt in control of that area. Why did his father keep him out in the wilderness, going from one post to another? And then—he learns that his father has died, suddenly and suspiciously. Why had his older half-brother Unis failed to inform Rahotep until nearly too late to reach the palace before the burial? Was he trying to make Rahotep appear a traitor? What were the real plans? And what was in the message from the Pharaoh in the North?
Rahotep soon takes off to the north to join the Pharaoh in his fight against the Hyksos, who have ruled the land of the double crown for far too long. Soon he finds himself and his small band of archers caught up in more intrigue than they can handle. Will they be able to help Pharaoh and strike a blow at the tyrants who rule them, or will they be overpowered? Can they find the real traitors in time?
This is a fast-moving story. Many times, Rahotep finds himself in situations that he may or may not be able to get out of. The danger he was in over and over kept our attention and kept us wanting to read, although the frequent battles or man-to-man fights were described in a bit too much detail. I skipped over at least one scene because it was too bloody. If you or your children do not like to read details about fighting and killing, you won’t want to read this book. I’m not sure if I would have read it aloud, had I known so much blood and gore was in it, but by reading it aloud I was able to skip the worst scenes. On the other hand, Shadow Hawk brings the period to life and fleshes out the history of Egypt we were learning. So, as with much historical fiction, there are pros and cons to this book!
WARNING: Read the last paragraph. I didn’t make notes of where the bloody scenes were because of the format in which I read the book.
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above