I have been taking a look at photos that bring back great memories of my travels to Egypt. Many of the hotels and archaeological sites have provided locations for the key scenes in by 10-book series following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt. All the time it’s not possible to travel freely, it seems to me the best way to get away is to read about foreign places and/or to look at pictures, which help to bring us a bit closer to what we’re missing.
I am now up to Book 9 in my series, Ramses’ Riches. This novel explores possible links between the court of Ramses The Great and the legendary tales about Helen of Troy.
After a spell in Luxor, Merry & Co decide to travel south down the Nile and then across Lake Nasser. Their destination is the glorious Temple of Ramses the Great at Abu Simbel.
While on their Nile Cruise, Merry and her friends and associates visit some of the most popular tourist sites along the banks of the river. What’s so great about a cruise along The Nile is that the ancient temple ruins are dotted along its banks at intervals. It makes for a leisurely touring itinerary and nothing is too far away from the boat. Key stops on the journey south to Aswan from Luxor include the Ptolemaic temples of Esna, Edfu, and Kom Ombo. Merry & Co visit Kom Ombo at night, soaking up the atmosphere of a full moon.
One of the many pleasures of a Nile cruise is looking at the scenes along the river bank, especially as the dusk sweeps in and the palm trees become a charcoal smudge against the glowing embers of the sinking sun.
The drama really start to heat up once Merry reaches Aswan and visits the island-temples go Philae. The main temple is dedicated Isis. Once sited on the island of Philae, the temples were dismantled to save them from the rising flood waters after the British dam was built in the early part of the 20th century. They have been re-sited on the nearby island of Agilika on higher ground. Looking at them today, you would never know they had been moved – a remarkable feat of modern engineering to rival the ancient artisans’ skill. Philae is very beautiful, surrounded by lush vegetation and the blue waters of The Nile near the first cataract.
Ultimately though, Merry’s destination is Abu Simbel. She is lucky enough to approach over water across Lake Nasser. Here, the sunsets are also beautiful. And the approach towards the great temples is breathtaking. Like Philae, both the smaller temple of Nefertari (dedicated to the goddess Hathor) and the Great Temple of Ramses II were rescued by UNESCO from the rising floodwaters of Lake Nasser, this time after the building of the Aswan High Dam in the mid-1960s. Every stone was painstakingly dismantled and moved to higher ground close to their original location. These two originally rock-cut tombs were reconstructed inside huge concrete and steel-enforced domes, like aircraft hangers. Again, it’s hard to imagine, seeing them so apparently intact today.
Inside both temples, the walls are covered with reliefs. The smaller temple of Nefertari – a key location in the novel – is covered with intimate scenes of Queen Neferari and her husband making offerings to the goddess Hathor. Inside the mighty temple of Ramses the Great, the wall scenes depict his war exploits against The Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh. Ramses claimed this as a great military victory. In truth, it was more likely to have ended in a stalemate that led to the first peace treaty in history some twenty years after the infamous battle.
Abu Simbel is truly one of the most impressive of Egypt’s ancient temples, dating to the New Kingdom, some 3,000 years ago. Not as immense as the pyramids, nor as sprawling and neck-craning as Karnak or as beautiful as Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple, it has an egotistical majesty that is quite awe inspiring, declaring one man’s power and glory, and his love for his Great Royal Wife. He called Nefertari “she for whom the sun shines”.
The bulk of the action in Ramses’ Riches takes place once Merry & Co reach Abu Simbel. The key question is whether something might remain buried behind the inner sanctuary of the temple, protected by the four seated statues of the gods, and whether this might somehow prove a link with the mythical Helen of Troy, or perhaps a more recent news story.
As always, there’s plenty of action and adventure along the way as Merry unlocks more secrets from Egypt’s ancient past.
I hope you have enjoyed looking at my pictures of my visits to Egypt that have provided settings for keystones in my books, and that you might consider reading them for some light, escapist fiction with a dose of ancient Egyptian history thrown in. If so, I suggest you start with the first in the series, Carter’s Conundrums. All my books areavaailable on Amazon.
Fiona Deal, Author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, fiction books all available on Amazon. To join Merry on her adventures please click on each picture for the link.