By The Gods Beloved

By The Gods Beloved - Emmuska Orczy Read in an undated Hodder & Stoughton edition. [These notes were made in 1984:]. There was a curious sense of déja vu about this tale of a lost Egyptian civilization, till I realized that it's a monumental rip-off of Rider Haggard's She. The story's told by a Watson-like figure who accompanies the idealistic and physically commanding Hugh Tankerville into and through the desert, past a splendid wasteland of bleached corpses and skeletons, into a sensual and treacherous paradise walled in by mountains as Shangri-la is. Here Hugh Tankerville gets himself engaged to one woman and involved with another (Maat-kha and Neit-akrit respecitvely), and although possessed of great power (the people consider him "Beloved of the Gods") eventually has to leave the country in order to ensure peace. Orczy is not in her element here - she is better with the high honourable passions of 18th-century aristocrats and horrors of the French Revolution. There is one rather impressive murder-in-the-temple scene (faithful sidekick trapped where he can see but not act, of course), but it drags on a bit too long, and since we are left very ambivalent about Neit-akrit's position in our sympathies, we take leave of her with more cheerfulness that our authoress would perhaps prefer.