Pharaoh’s Tomb (Crystal Journals, Bk. 2)
Pharaoh’s Tomb (Crystal Journals, Bk. 2)
"O Crystal Bearer." The high priestess laughed. "You are always welcome anywhere in a temple of Ma'at. You are of her chosen and may come and go...as you please... [Harsheer] has used the scroll of Ma'at against her wishes. He is proud and arrogant and steps very lightly around this temple, for fear that Ma'at will strike him down in anger."
"Because he's growing the crystals of Ma'at?" Susan asked.
The priestess waved her hand dismissively. "We were concerned about his magic doings. We don't know how he acquired the scroll he used. We made sure he always failed... But then he summoned you to help him and you've restored the balance."...
"But how will I get home?"
"It will be as Ma'at wishes."
Pharoah's Tomb is the second novel in Rosemary Ludlow's "Crystal" series in which a 10-year-old Canadian girl, Susan, time travels into the past with the aid of a magic crystal to right events that have gone wrong. At the beginning of Pharoah's Tomb, Susan's mentor, the former Guardian of the Crystal, says that her crystal is one of four made by a magician long ago. Susan's is the Crystal of the North.
Recently returned to the 21st century from a trip to the 1860s, the subject of A Rare Gift, Susan's thoughts are on the impending visit of her uncle's stepson, Jason, who is coming from Australia to North American in quest of a special cancer treatment. She worries that he may find out about her crystal. The day of his arrival, as her parents leave to meet Jason and his parents, Susan feels dizzy, as if on the verge of another crystal journey.
She awakes in ancient Egypt where Harsheer, the pharoah's chief magician and tomb guardian, takes her to his workshop. There, he tells her that she is to pose as his daughter; he gives her a potion which enables her to speak his language; and he names her "Merit-Amen". Women servants bathe her, dress her in the costume of the country, and shave her head in the style of their culture. Susan realizes she no longer has the crystal in her possession.
It turns out that she has been taken back to a time period before her crystal existed. Harsheer has summoned her, with the aid of a tiny statuette in her image, to help him make several crystals. If she refuses to cooperate, he will turn her out to starve. Using instructions on a small scroll, Susan helps him make the four crystals of Ma'at. Because they need to grow for six months undisturbed, Harsheer puts them in the current pharaoh's unused tomb.
The pair’s boat trip along the Nile to Thebes allows the author to present interesting detail about Egyptian life in the regime of Tuthmoses II, who reigned from 1493 B.C. to 1479 B.C. Tuthmoses is mentioned at the beginning of the novel in a cast list of over forty names. His "throne name", Akheperenre, is the one he is known by throughout the novel. Other characters, such as Susan's friend "Djus", the grand vizier's son, have names that are shorter yet hard to pronounce. Having to stumble over names may deter some readers from continuing with the story.
Readers learn much about Egyptian customs, including the tradition of royal brother-sister marriages. Neferure, the pharoah's 12-year-old daughter was betrothed to Djus, the future grand vizier, to ensure future stable rule in the absence of a male heir. Then the pharoah had a son by a secondary wife, and Neferure is now required to marry this half-brother 10 years her junior. (The scenes involving the little prince are endearing and amusing.)
Neferure still loves Djus and is jealous when he befriends Susan. When Neferure makes an attempt on Susan's life, Susan has to get away from her. With the pharoah's permission, Susan joins Djus on the royal progress to Upper Egypt. At one of the stops along the Nile, Susan is drawn to the temple of Ma'at, sensing its connection with her crystal. There she is welcomed by the high priestess who is concerned about Harsheer's practices (see introductory quote). Susan is given a pendant with a representation of the goddess Ma'at, who stands for truth and justice and keeps chaos at bay.
At another stop, a rare rainstorm washes away mud brick structures and frees some menagerie animals. When an elephant tramples and kills the pharoah, Djus takes command of the situation, knowing that the new pharaoh will require a regent and that war between rival families may break out.
Susan puts in an uneasy six months. The new regent, Queen Hapshepsut, is in league with Harsheer, her enemy. While mourning the loss of the pharoah, who was kind to her, Susan wonders how she is going to get her crystal out of his sealed tomb. In a dramatic yet predictable finale, she risks death to recover it, ensures that the other three crystals are out of Harsheer's grasp, and, with sorrow at leaving Djus, returns to the 21st century.
Longer and more complex than A Rare Gift, Pharoah's Tomb continues the skillful history-adventure blend of the first crystal novel while continuing the pattern of a strong female lead character with a worthy young man as her sidekick. While Ludlow offers a preface telling what happened in A Rare Gift, it is best to read the novels in order. The ending of Pharoah's Tomb points to Susan's further adventures with a new companion, Jason.