Ramses III – A motive for murder

My most recent book following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, Ramses’ Revenge, deals with the historical events surrounding the so-called Harem Conspiracy to murder Ramses III.

Ramses III ruled Egypt at the beginning of the 20th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, a little over a thousand years BC. It was a period of ancient Egyptian history about which I knew little beyond what is common knowledge to anyone with more than a passing interest in the subject, having been mostly fascinated by the 18th Dynasty pharaohs. But I knew from News headlines published in 2012, (about the time I was writing my first couple of books in the series) that Ramses III had been murdered. A 2012 CT scan on his mummy, revealed a deeply slit throat that would have killed him instantaneously. That the assassination of the divinely anointed ruler was plotted by one of his wives only added to the sense of intrigue and skulduggery. I determined there and then to learn more about this pharaoh who met with such a violent death. And the first germs of an idea for a novel started to spawn.

It’s impossible, of course, to project what we might call ‘personality’ onto an historical individual who lived and died more than three millennia ago. I started out thinking of Ramses III as a ‘victim’ of the Harem Conspiracy, led by one of his junior wives in a bid to place her son on the throne instead of the intended successor, the Crown Prince. But the more I researched the subject, the more it seemed to me that Ramses III was perhaps the architect of his own downfall. I also started to question the so-called ‘junior’ status of the queen who incited the conspiracy. Important men, it seems, rallied to her cause.

There are clues in the monuments left by Ramses III, in particular his spectacular Memorial Temple on the West Bank near Luxor now known as Medinet Habu Temple, that all may not have been well at his pharaonic court.

Ramses III aped his illustrious predecessor, Ramses The Great, in many things, and proved himself a mighty warrior Pharaoh. He is often dubbed ‘the last warrior pharaoh’. He repelled invading forces and kept the Egyptian empire largely intact at a time when the major empires of the Mediterranean and Near East were crumbling.

Like his predecessor, Ramses III had multiple wives (three concurrent principal wives that we know of) and, as a result, hoardes of children. While possibly not in quite the same league as his forebear, said to have had upwards of a hundred offspring, Ramses III copied his hero by carving his temple walls showing processions of royal princes and princesses. But there was one big difference…

Egyptologists state that in Ramses III’s lifetime, he left the label texts that would name his sons and daughters intentionally blank. Equally, of the known depictions of his queens on statuary or temple walls, only one image has the name and titles added. What are we to make of this ?

True, infant mortality was high. Possibly, the king was being circumspect. But it was a simple enough thing to re-carve the wall reliefs – other pharaohs did it all the time! So, one gets a sense of intrigue, of possible rivalry and jealousy; perhaps of different branches of the royal family being played off against each other by a wily old king.

I learned that three of Ramses III’s sons followed him on the throne of Egypt after his death. Each named himself ‘Ramses’ on his coronation (all still hoping some of the might and majesty of Ramses The Great might rub off on them!). These three sons all added their label texts (and presumably also named some of their brothers) to the procession showing the princely images on the wall at Medinet Habu. They became respectively Ramses IV, VI and VIII.

One might ask how it is possible for three brothers to succeed their father. But this makes sense when you learn that Ramses V and VII (grandsons of Ramses III) died young, without heirs.

In the procession of royal princes at Medinet Habu, one son of Ramses III is missing (or, at least, still unlabelled, or had his image usurped by another brother). This is the prince dubbed ‘Pentaweret’ – the young man the conspirator queen intended for the throne. This unfortunate young man was put to death (by enforced suicide rather than execution) when the Harem Conspiracy was foiled – although not in time to prevent the murder of the king.

On my recent visit to Egypt, I was determined to see this procession of princes for myself, having only ever read about it in books on Egyptology. This short clip shows me pointing them out (with apologies for some background noise).

The conspirators were rounded up by the Crown Prince, who became Ramses IV, and put on trial. The majority were summarily executed, with a favored few allowed to take their own lives. What became of the queen who incited the assassination is unknown … although my novel posits a suggestion.

Of course, nobody deserves to be murdered. But I do have to admit that I could start to see how Ramses III might have stirred up a hornets nest of hatred and anger that led to a plot to dispatch him.

When one also learns that the first recorded workers’ strike in history took place under his rule towards the end of his reign, it serves only to reinforce the impression that here was a pharaoh perhaps who failed to care for his people. Apparently the men who toiled in the Valley of the Kings, carving out the pharaoh’s tomb, downed tools and refused to work because they had not received their payment of grain supplies, and were hungry. All this, so we are told, while the king boasted about the great feasts he held in his palace. Considering the palace adjoining the Medinet Habu Temple was within plain sight of the workers’ village in the cliffs of Deir el Medina – probably possible to smell the meat juices cooking – one can sympathize with their discontent.

So, perhaps the conspirators felt confident their plan to remove the king would be met with a groundswell of approval among the local people. And maybe this dissatisfaction among the populace explains why the Medinet Habu has the feeling of a fortified temple, surrounded by an impregnable, thick boundary wall.

There are records showing that the Nile floods failed in the latter years of Ramses III’s reign, possibly as a result of an explosive volcanic eruption on the other side of the world. Not his fault, for sure; but perhaps an economic downturn needing a different style of leadership. So, my overwhelming impression, having researched the man, is that Ramses III would not have won any popularity contests in the latter part of his reign.

The murder of the king is said to have taken place in the royal harem which was located in the Eastern High Gate in front of the Medinet Habu Temple, shown in one of the pictures below.

Ramses’ Revenge is the tenth book in my series and sets out to look for the motive and means behind the Harem Conspiracy that led to the assassination of Ramses III. As with all the books in the series, it is set in the present day, but has an ancient mystery at its heart.

Fiona Deal, author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt – Mysteries of modern and ancient Egypt – all available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both Kindle and paperback.

Karnak’s Colored Columns

One of the things that struck me most on my recent visit to Luxor was to see just how much work the Egyptian authorities have done during the pandemic to clean, conserve and restore Egypt’s ancient monuments. In the almost-two-years since my last trip, it was great to see the opening of the Avenue of Sphinxes, the excavation of the Memorial Temple of Amenhotep III and the cleaning of Esna Temple to reveal its wonderful colored columns and ceiling. I have posted separately about all of these recently.

It’s fair to say though that seeing the work at Karnak Temple possibly impressed me the most.

I first visited Karnak as a 17-year old in 1984. I remember being staggered by its unimaginable size and the sheer gigantic scale of everything. Naturally, the Hypostyle Hall with its 134 towering sandstone columns made the biggest impression on me. I recall our guide telling us the temple was originally fully painted. I craned my neck back and peered up at the undersides of what remains of the roof, squinting to see the remains of the original color on some of the reliefs shaded from the bleaching effects of the sun. I tried to imagine what the entire temple must have looked like painted in bright hues. Tried, and failed.

Well, I’m happy to report that it no longer needs a stretch of the imagination to picture what it must have looked like. The authorities have used the last number of months to work on the enormous columns of the central colonnade to restore some of their color. It’s been subtly done. This short video shows you what it looks like now:

It’s not just the columns of the Hypostyle Hall that have been lovingly restored. I was also pleased to see the ram-headed sphinxes lined along both sides of the Open Court had received some much-needed attention. Our Egyptian friend told us that it was only when two of the sphinxes were removed and taken to Tahrir Square that the authorities realized quite how much they were in need of some TLC.

As ever, a visit to Karnak never disappoints. So, hats off to the Egyptian Antiquities Ministry for all the effort they continue to put into making the open-air museum of Luxor such a thrilling and rewarding place to visit.

With apologies to my English readers for the spelling of the word C O L O U R !! The text automatically converts to the American spelling, even when I try to change it back 🙂

Fiona Deal, author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt – Mysteries of modern and ancient Egypt – all available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both Kindle and paperback.

Esna Temple Cleaning and Conservation

There was a time not so long ago when a fair amount of imagination was needed to picture what the ancient Egyptian temples must have looked like when originally built and painted. Over recent years, however, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and Tourism has led major programs of work to clean, conserve and, in some cases, renovate and restore the temples.

On my recent trip to Egypt I was keen to visit Esna Temple for the first time to see some of this cleaning and conservation work for myself. Located approximately 50 miles south of Luxor on the West Bank of the Nile, the temple is dedicated to Khnum, a god of the Nile who moulded the “ka” on his potters wheel.

Esna is the last temple built in Egypt in the traditional style, a Ptolemaic temple dating from the Graeco-Roman period. It was completed under the Roman Emperor Decius in circa 250 AD. As with all Ptolemaic temples, it was built on the site of an earlier shrine, this one dating from the reign of Thutmosis III in the New Kingdom. The temple sits in a hollow pit some 9 meters below ground level with the modern town enclosing it on all sides. Only the hypostyle hall has been excavated, with remains of the rest of the temple still buried under the surrounding streets.

This short video clip shows the approach to the temple through narrow streets lined with market stalls, and you can see how the temple sits in a pit surrounded by the modern town.

Arriving Esna Temple

A team was there working hard on the cleaning and conservation work as this next short clip shows:

Cleaning Esna Temple

The work cleaning the capital-headed columns and the astronomical ceiling is revealing some stunning colors as this gallery of photographs shows. So it’s no longer necessary to use your imagination to see what the temple must have looked like when originally carved and painted.

What also sets Esna Temple apart is some of the unique reliefs carved into the walls and columns. On the northern wall the pharaoh is shown hunting wild birds, beautifully carved in raised relief into the sandstone.

These next carvings are unlike anything I have seen on temple walls before… as I understand it depicting a hymn to Khnum.

There is also a depiction on one of the columns of the Emperor Trajan dancing before the goddess Menhet, and another of an Emperor presenting a garland. And finally, on the outer wall apparently the only image in Egypt of a man riding a horse.

All in all, a fascinating visit to an atmospheric and evocative temple being restored to something of its former glory. And, of course, for a writer of fiction such as myself, impossible not to imagine what might be waiting to be discovered buried for millennia under the modern town that surrounds it. Surely, there must be a story there …

Fiona Deal, author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt – Mysteries of modern and ancient Egypt – all available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both Kindle and paperback.

An ancient temple emerges from the sands of time

On a recent trip to Luxor in November 2021, it was fascinating to see the excavations of the ancient Memorial Temple of Amenhotep III. It’s possible to walk along the road behind the famous Colossi of Memnon and look across the excavation site. A few statues have been found and reconstructed. Others remain shattered or in blocks awaiting re-assembly.

Amenhotep III (the ‘Magnificent’) ruled in the mid-18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, at the height of Egypt’s empire period. His Memorial Temple dates from circa 1350 BCE. When originally built, it was the largest temple structure of its kind. Even the later mortuary temples of Ramses II (the Ramesseum) and Ramses III (Medinet Habu) could not compete for size. When Amenhotep III was constructing his mortuary temple, even Karnak Temple was smaller.

People ask why so little now remains of this once gargantuan temple. Firstly, it seems the temple was very badly damaged in an earthquake that shook the Theban mortuary area in circa 1200 BCE. Huge fissures opened in the ground apparently causing complete statues to tumble into them. Another devastating earthquake occurred in circa 27 BCE. These account for much of the destruction. But it is also the case that successive pharaohs had no compunction about dismantling the structures of former rulers and re-using their stones in the construction of their own monuments. It seems Amenhotep’s memorial temple may have been particularly targeted as a quarry for future generations of builders.

All of this makes it especially fascinating to witness the modern excavation work and see the once mighty temple re-emerging from the sands of time.

In this short video clip, you can see the excavation site as it looks in late-2021 (with my apologies for the traffic noise !)

I have been visiting Egypt for a number of years. The photographs below show the Colossi of Memnon, originally with nothing but farmland behind them , then cordoned off and, more recently, with the excavation work in progress.

I very much hope that, on my next trip, it will be possible to see even more progress…

Fiona Deal, author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt – Mysteries of modern and ancient Egypt – all available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both Kindle and paperback.

A walk along the Avenue of Sphinxes

Through sheer good luck and great timing, I was fortunate enough to be in Luxor for the spectacular opening of the Avenue of Sphinxes.  Like many others, I watched the ceremony and celebrations on television, in my case at the Luxor apartment of Egyptian friends Waleed and Amira, enjoying the fabulous fish feast they prepared.  We could hear the fireworks exploding overhead at the end of the lavish and magical event.

Determined to make the most of actually being in Luxor for such a momentous occasion, I was among the first foreign visitors to walk along the Avenue of Sphinxes within 48 hours of its opening (teams of people were there dismantling the stage and lighting systems that hosted the president and various dignitaries and beamed the event around the world).

The short video clip below shows me talking about this remarkable place and how it felt to be among the first to visit.  Excavations of the Sphinx Avenue (also known as the ‘Ram’s Road’) started seriously in 1949.  There are black & white photographs displayed on huge poster boards along the processional route showing various stages of excavation work through recent decades.

In the years since I first visited Luxor in 1984, it has changed out of all recognition.  The decision to clear the entire 2.7km processional route between Karnak and Luxor temples was taken in 2002.  Since then, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities has funded an enormous project to remove significant parts of the city to excavate out the original Sphinx Avenue.  This has included re-housing large numbers of people as their homes were demolished and also moving shops, mosques and even a police station.

The Avenue runs between the two temples, approximately 2-3 meters below ground level.  It is possible to walk the entire processional route with tickets to visit both Karnak and Luxor Temples.  The Avenue of Sphinxes was originally conceived and building started under Amenhotep III (the Magnificent) in the middle of the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, circa 1375 BCE and completed under Nactanebo II of the 30th Dynasty, around 375 BCE.  The ram-headed sphinxes at the Karnak end depict the Theban God Amun-Ra, while the human-headed sphinxes depict Nactanebo, the last indigenous pharaoh of Egypt.  The lion body of the sphinx is a symbol of power and protection.

In ancient times, the Sphinx Avenue was used for the annual Open Festival.  This was a major religious festival in the Theban calendar when the barque shrines (a kind of boat carried on the shoulders of priests) of the Theban Triad of Gods, Amun, Mut and Khonsu were carried between the two East Bank Temples amid scenes of rejoicing and revelry.

Excavations have revealed a number of wineries along the route, where wine was pressed and filtered.  I imagine there was much singing, dancing and possible debauchery !  The wineries date from the Roman era so it seems the processional way was still in use for festivals and rejoicing.

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While many of the actual sphinxes are missing having been lost or destroyed over the millennia, it is still possible to look along the length of the route and imagine what it must have been like in ancient times.  It is wonderful to be able to stand midway along the route and see the entrance pylon of Luxor Temple in one direction and a partially reconstructed pylon and one of the obelisks of Karnak in the other.

I feel incredibly lucky to have walked along the Avenue of Sphinxes.  Now home again as Omicron, the new Covid variant rages across the world, I feel even more so.  Definitely inspiration for more books as excavation and restoration work continues…

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.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

Cover of  Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

Locations in Ramses’ Revenge

Ramses’ Revenge - Book 10 - hi-resEgypt remains on the red list for travel from the UK while the pandemic still rages across the globe.  This means we Brits can travel there in an emergency only.  So I have been consoling myself with my photo albums, revisiting past trips.  Many of the awe-inspiring archaeological sites and ancient monuments on both banks of the Nile have provided locations for key scenes in my travel series following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt.  There are now ten books in the series.  They are modern mystery-adventure stories, all with an ancient Egyptian mystery at their heart.  So if you, like me, are missing the opportunity to travel freely, you might like to join me on this spin through some of my favorite places in the mystical land the pharaohs.

I have now reached the last in this series of travelogues as I am now on book 10 in the series.  Published in early June this year, 2021, Ramses’ Revenge is Merry’s most recent adventure.

The majority of the action takes place at the impressive temple of Medinet Habu on the West Bank near Luxor.  This was the mortuary temple, or “Mansion of Millions of Years” of Pharaoh Ramses III.  It has long been known that Ramses III was the victim of a Harem Conspiracy, led by one of his wives, to replace him on the throne with her son. But it was long believed that the pharaoh survived the attempt on his life – although dying soon afterwards.  Then, in 2012, the CT scan on his preserved mummy revealed a deeply slit throat, a wound so vicious it must certainly have killed him instantly.  My story seeks to unravel the circumstances surrounding this violent chapter in Egypt’s royal past.  It provides the identities and motivations of some of the key protagonists in the ancient murder-mystery.

Medinet Habu is the best preserved of the truly ancient temples.  It dates from the early 20th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, some 1,100 years BCE.  Its fantastic state of preservation is largely thanks to its use as the headquarters of the West Bank necropolis in ancient times, meaning it wasn’t dismantled so its stones could be re-used in other building projects, which was the fate of many of the memorial temples dating from this period.  Much of the original color can still be seen, audit’s possible to get a sense of what the temple would have looked like when brightly painted and intact. There are some fantastic wall carvings, many showing Ramses III’s successful war campaigns against the ‘Sea Peoples’.

Here are some typical scenes of the local people going about their business; scenes Merry sees every day as she has made a home in Egypt.

One of the key scenes in the book takes placate Karnak, where the action unfolds in the Barque Temple of Ramses III and the Temple of Khonsu, which was commissioned by Ramses III.

As ever, it wouldn’t be a Meredith Pink book without a visit to one of Luxor’s iconic hotels.  This time, the charming Al Moudira Hotel, tucked away discreetly on the West Bank in the foothills of the Theban Mountains.

There is also a visit to the Valley of The Queens, where it’s possible to see tombs of sons of Ramses III who died before their father.  The wall reliefs show the pharaoh introducing his dead son(s) to the Gods and Goddesses of the ancient Egyptian Pantheon.

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One of the sons of Ramses III

And so, my series (so far) and my photographic tour through favorite memories and locations for key scenes in my books has come to an end.  I plan soon to start writing book 11, with more planned for the future.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at my pictures, and that you might consider joining Merry & Co on their adventures in Egypt.  If so, I suggest you start with the first in the series, Carter’s Conundrums.

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.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

Cover of  Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

Ramses’ Riches Scene Setting

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

Book 9. Ramses’ Riches.

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.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

Cover of  Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

Location Shoot Nefertari’s Narrative

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

Book 8. Nefertari’s Narrative.

I am over halfway through my trip down Memory Lane, re-visiting my photo albums and looking at the fabulous archaeological sites in Egypt that have provided settings for some of the key scenes in my travel-mystery series following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt.

In book 8, Nefertari’s Narrative, my central protagonist, Merry, is enticed to return to Egypt after a spell back at home in England.  She’s lured by the opportunity to search for some fabled stone tablets purported to tell the origins of the famous Queen Nefertari, Great Royal Wife of Ramses II (The Great).

Her latest adventure in Egypt begins in Cairo where she is granted the rare opportunity to climb (lawfully) to the top of the Great Pyramid.  Climbing the pyramids has been forbidden since the mid 1980s, although some still take the risk.  As you might expect, things don’t go entirely according to plan and Merry & Co’s time at the Giza Plateau is not without incident.  Here are a few pictures of the Pyramids.  The one taken from the top of the Great Pyramid is not mine, so appears courtesy of Wikipedia and Google images.

Having cruised up the Nile from Cairo to Luxor … (I feel I should clarify that you cruise UP the Nile as the water flows DOWN from its sources deep in Africa to spill into the Mediterranean) … Merry is caught up in a mishap while visiting the Ramesseum on the West Bank of the river.  This was the mortuary temple, or “Mansion of Millions of Years” of the Great Ramses II.  Today, it is a picturesque ruin, and one of the less-visited tourist sites on Luxor’s West Bank.  This is where the head-and-torso-bust of Ramses II, now on display in the British Museum, was discovered.  Giovanni Belzoni, Italian adventurer and explorer arranged for it to be dragged across the agricultural land to The Nile and onto a boat for transportation to Alexandria.

Of course, a novel about Queen Nefertari wouldn’t be complete without a visit to her stunning tomb in The Valley of the Queens.  This exquisite ancient Egyptian work of art was closed to the public for decades while The Getty Institute worked to conserve and restore its beautiful wall reliefs.  Only recently re-opened to the public (although numbers are limited) it is a highlight on any visit to Luxor, and rates one of the top experiences of my life.

Speaking of tombs, one of the key scenes in the book takes place inside the spectacular tomb of Seti I.  Even though I have already featured this, here are a few more pictures.  Another highlight of any trip to Egypt … although perhaps not for Merry, given what happens while she is here.

The dramatic action concludes in the Theban hills.  These are criss-crossed with ancient footpaths which wind their way across the barren landscape between The Valley of the Kings, Hatshepsut’s Mortuary Temple and the ancient workmen’s village of Deer El Medina.  In this adventure, Merry is here at nightfall – a dangerous time to visit.  Here, you can see what it looks like during the day.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at this selection of photographs, which have provided the backdrop for one of my adventure stories.  If you are interested in finding out more, you might perhaps consider reading the series.  If so, I suggest you start with the first of Merry’s adventures from which all the others flow, Carter’s Conundrums.

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.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

Cover of  Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

Locations used in Seti’s Secret

As you may have seen if you’ve been following me over the last couple of weeks, I’m re-visiting the Egyptian locations that provide the backdrop for my mystery-adventure series following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt.

This is an excuse to dig out some of my favorite photographs and re-live treasured memories of past trips of my own (especially as it’s not possible to travel to Egypt right now).  I hope it will also bring to life many of the settings for key scenes in my books for any readers who may not have visited Egypt; or bring back memories for those that have.

In this post, I am now up to book 6 in the series, Seti’s Secret.  Books 4, 5 and 6 in the series all explore the possible links between Pharaonic history and the Old Testament of the Bible.  Of course, they are fiction.  But there are some intriguing hypotheses put forward by certain Egyptologists.  From these, I have woven my stories.  In Seti’s Secret, Merry & Co have stumbled across a set of clay tablets that seem to provide a link to the mysterious Copper Scroll found among the Dead Sea Scrolls in the caves of Qumran.  The Copper Scroll exists and is on display in Jordan.  Merry is intrigued to know whether the Copper Scroll (which appears to modern scholars to be a list of buried treasure) might provide a link between the ‘heretic pharaoh Akhenaten and Moses of the Bible.

Some historians describe Pharaoh Akhenaten as ‘the first individual in history’.  He was the first pharaoh to worship one god – the sun disc – Aten – whom he rose above the ancient Egyptian pantheon of animal-headed gods and goddesses. Did this make him founder of the first monotheistic religion ?  He was unusual, for sure, and had himself depicted with elongated and exaggerated features.

As usual in a Meredith Pink story, there’s plenty of action along the way, with characters old and new joining Merry on her latest adventure along The Nile.

There have been reports of looting in the Valley of the Kings, so Merry joins a team to check this out.  She visits one of the most spectacular tombs in Egypt: that of Seti I, second pharaoh of the 19th Dynasty of The New Kingdom.  It is the largest in the Valley and has only recently been re-opened after decades closed to the public.

The action also takes Merry and friends to the Luxor Museum, where they hope to study an ancient papyrus scroll and learn its secrets.  This is a fascinating Museum set on The Corniche on the east bank in Luxor, and well worth a visit.

It would be impossible for Merry to explore the links between Akhenaten and the Bible without visiting the site of the ‘heretic’ pharaoh’s ancient city of Akhet-Aten, modern-day Amarna.  This location has recently been added to Nile cruise itineraries sailing between Cairo and Luxor.  Amarna lies on the east bank, approximately mid-way between the two.  It seems the many tombs of the Nobles constructed there were never occupied.  Merry is intrigued to know why not and what may have happened to them ?  Is it possible there’s a link with the Exodus story of the Bible ?

Returning to Luxor having made a thrilling discovery at Amarna, it seems many of the answers to her questions might be found on the walls of the mighty Karnak temple.

It wouldn’t be a Meredith Pink story without a visit to one of Egypt’s lovely hotels, this time dinner at The Nile Palace, known for its clover-shaped pool, and great view across The Nile to the West Bank.

And so my sixth book wraps up with new insights into ancient history and lots of fun and drama along the way.  The big question remains, as Egypt is so turbulent in its modern history, can Merry continue to pursue her dream of making a new life for herself in Egypt ?

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my pictures and learning a bit about Merry’s adventures in Egypt.  You might like to consider reading the series for a bit of escapist fiction that takes you to the heat and sunshine of Egypt – great travel stories and ancient mysteries wrapped up in modern adventure stories.  If so, I suggest you start with the first in the series, Carter’s Conundrums.

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.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

Cover of  Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

Scenes from Akhenaten’s Alibi

I am indulging in a pictorial journey through some of the key locations used in my travel adventure series Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt.  Set in modern times, my stories all have an ancient Egyptian historical theme or mystery at their heart.  They are a fun, escapist series of books, with a chunk of Egyptian history thrown in for good measure as this has always fascinated me.

In book 5, Akhenaten’s Alibi, Merry is caught up in an adventure that explores links between ancient Egypt and The Bible, in particular whether Biblical Moses and the ‘heretic’ pharaoh Akhenaten might have had anything in common.

Merry is now living on The Nile in Luxor aboard a converted Victorian dahabeeyah.  Her daily life is spent enjoying the beauty of the river.  Here are some shots to show you the typical riverbank scenes that Merry looks at every day.

My challenge with setting my books in modern times is the need to stick within the boundaries of current events as well as be historically accurate.  This book is set during the protests in Egypt that resulted in President Morsi being forcibly removed from office.  This was a turbulent and violent period in Egypt’s recent history and provides the backdrop against which my story unfolds.

Some of the key action takes Merry on her first visit to Amarna.  This is the site of the ancient city of Akhet-Aten, built by the ‘heretic’ pharaoh Akhenaten, when he moved the religious capital from Thebes (now Luxor).  The city was systematically demolished after Akhenaten’s death.  Today, very little remains.  But it is possible to get a sense of the basic layout in the dustbowl between The Nile and the cliffs.  Modern visitors are now able to visit The Royal Tomb, although it is unclear whether Akhenaten (and other members of his family) were interred there.

As always, Merry & co get into innumerable scrapes and make some remarkable discoveries along the way.  A blend of fact and fiction, ancient and modern, adventure, mystery, romance and history, I hope you will consider reading them.  If so, I suggest you start with the first book in the series, Carter’s Conundrums, in which Merry gets caught up in her first Egyptian adventure.

It is always a joy to me to look at my photographs of treasured times in Egypt.  I hope you have enjoyed looking at my pictures too.

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.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

Cover of  Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

Location pictures from Farouk’s Fancies

I am taking a trip down memory lane, looking at treasured photographs of my travels in Egypt, since it’s not currently possible to visit for real due to the global pandemic.  Many of the fabulous places to see in Egypt have formed the backdrop location for key scenes in my fiction series following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt.  Merry is good at getting herself into scrapes.  She’s also good at unlocking secrets from ancient Egypt’s mysterious past.  Set in the present-day, I think of my books as ancient mysteries wrapped up in modern adventure stories.

Book 4 in the series, Farouk’s Fancies, moves the action on from where we left Merry at the end of Book 3.  She is now living onboard a dahabeeyah.  These are traditional Nile sailboats, pioneered by Thomas Cook when he first started taking paying tourists to see the splendors along the Nile.  He took the basic design from prototypes carved onto the tomb and temple walls in Egypt.  Smaller and more intimate than the modern cruise boats, they are able to visit more sites along both banks of The Nile, offering an alternative for discerning travellers.

Much of the action in Farouk’s Fancies taken place in the wonderful Winter Palace Hotel.  Dating from the 1880s, this is where the Earl of Carnarvon stayed while he and Howard Carter were searching the Valley of the Kings for Tutankhamun’s Tomb.  I don’t imagine much has changed in the public areas since their day.  I imagine they could walk into the Lobby through the big wooden revolving door and still recognize it and feel very much at home.

Merry attends a lecture held in the huge Victorian Lounge, given by an author who is setting out his theories about how Pharaonic Egypt links to the Old Testament of The Bible.

There is a mystery attached to an illusive old lady who lives in a suite of rooms at The Winter Palace, leading off one of the lofty corridors.

When a visitor to Luxor goes missing, Merry and her companions meet in the beautiful grounds of The Winter Palace hoping he might put in an appearance.

One of the key scenes in the book takes place in The Western Valley, a remote branch of the famous Valley of the Kings.  Merry is good at marching in where angels would fear to tread, and this is no exception! There are a few royal tombs in the Western Valley, including that of Pharaoh Ay, who came to the throne after the death of Tutankhamun.

The action shifts back to The Winter Palace hotel, where Merry inadvertently spends a rather uncomfortable afternoon outside on a window ledge, from where she has to be rescued.

Finally back on board the dahabeeyah, Merry realists she has all the pieces to wrap up this latest puzzle.  I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my Egyptian photo album, and that you might consider reading my books, all available on Amazon.  If so, I suggest you start with Book 1, Carter’s Conundrums.

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.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

Cover of  Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

Key scene locations Hatshepsut’s Hideaway

I am re-visiting my photograph collection to remind myself of great times in Egypt, as I am currently unable to visit due to the global pandemic.  Egypt is crammed full of marvelous sights and ancient ruins, as well as wonderful modern (and some historic) hotels.  Many of these have featured in my series following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt.  These are action-adventure stories set in the present-day but with an ancient Egyptian mystery at their heart.

Today’s post looks back on some of my favourite places, where I set many of the key scenes in book 3, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The first three books in my series stand as a trilogy.  In each, the action picks up where it left off in the previous story.  When the book starts, Merry is still staying as a tourist at the Jolie Ville Hotel, on King’s Island, just outside Luxor.  But she soon embarks on a Nile cruise on the wonderful SS Misr.  This original Nile steamship was once owned by King Farouk.  It is a real taste of what luxury Nile travel must have been like in its heyday.  Once on board, Merry is surprised to be joined by a blast from new boyfriend Adam’s past, who appears to be the victim of a series of unfortunate mishaps, and sets Merry off on a whole new adventure.

The traditional Nile cruise from Luxor to Aswan makes its first stop at the impressive Temple of Horus at Edfu.  This dates from Ptolemaic times and is one of the best preserved temples in Egypt.  Its massive entrance pylon in still intact and the hypostyle hall still has its roof, blackened by soot from cooking posts of the people who lived there when it was still choked with sand.  Needless to say, Merry’s visit is not without incident!

Next on the Nile cruise itinerary, is the twin temple of Kom Ombo, dedicated jointly to Sobek, the crocodile god, and also to Horus-the-elder.  Also Ptolemaic, the temple dates from some 300 years BC. Merry admires the wall carvings showing medical instruments used in ancient times, some still familiar-looking today.  There’s also a display of mummified crocodiles.  When Merry was there, they were on display in a small hut, but have recently been moved to a larger air-conditioned museum on site.

A trip to see the Unfinished Obelisk still lying attached to the bedrock in the ancient granite quarry in Aswan is also included in the Nile cruise itinerary.  This place is full of atmosphere.  It’s easy to imagine the workmen have simply slipped away for their lunch break, and will return any minute.

While moored in Aswan, Merry visits Elephantine Island set in the middle of the Nile opposite the world-famous Old Cataract Hotel.  Here, she gets caught up in a thrilling discovery by a team of archaeologists exploring the temple of Satet, dated from the 18th Dynasty reigns of Hatshepsut and her nephew/stepson Thutmosis III.  This is one of the key scenes in the book and helps Merry to unravel the latest mystery.

Elephantine Island was known as Abu (meaning elephant) by the ancient Egyptians.  It’s not clear whether it got its name from the boulders strewn in the Nile, which look like elephants bathing, or whether it was once a trading post for ivory.

Returning in a hurry to Luxor, Merry finds herself once more drawn to the Hathor Chapel on the lower terrace of the beautiful mortuary temple of Hatshepsut on the West Bank.  Here her latest adventure concludes, but not without some heart-stopping moments.

I hope you have enjoyed looking at my photographs as a way of visiting Egypt while it is advised against traveling there.  Maybe you’ll consider reading Merry’s adventures, all available on Amazon.  If so, I suggest you start with book 1 in the series, Carter’s Conundrums.

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.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

Cover of  Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

Location Shoot Tutankhamun’s Triumph

I’m re-visiting some of my photograph albums and the locations where I’ve set key scenes in my series of action-adventure-mystery novels following Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt. I think of these as ancient Egyptian mysteries wrapped up in modern adventures.  The drama unfolds in and around some of the most iconic sites along the Nile.

So, I thought I’d combine a trip down memory lane with a few pictures of some of the key locations I used in the second book in my (now 10 book) series Tutankhamun’s Triumph.  A few days ago, I published the location photos from book 1 in the series, Carter’s Conundrums. The action in book 2 picks up literally where it left off in book 1.  Merry has solved set of hieroglyphic clues and made an intriguing discovery.  But this is only the start!  In book 2 her quest continues…

Merry is staying at the Jolie Ville hotel on a post-redundancy time-out holiday when she gets caught up in the adventure of a lifetime.  The hotel is a beautiful oasis, set on its own island (King’s Island) in The Nile, a little way outside Luxor on the east bank.  It has fabulous views of the Nile looking across to the Theban Hills.

Soon, Merry is on her way to Cairo, eager to rescue a damsel in distress from a gang of antiquities thieves.  In Cairo, the action takes in the Egyptian Museum, where Merry is lucky enough to see the behind-the-scenes parts of the museum.  This wonderful Victorian building is full of atmosphere but not big enough to display all its treasures.  Soon everything will be re-housed in the new Grand Egyptian Museum built near the Giza Plateau.

Once back in Luxor, a series of misadventures leads Merry to stake out The Luxor Temple.  This ancient structure dates from the “Empire” period and was extended in the New Kingdom by great pharaohs such as Amenhotep III, Tutankhamun and Ramses the Great.

One of the key scenes in the book takes place at the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut on the West Bank, and in the craggy hills above it.  This fabulous ancient temple is set against a curtain of cliffs that rise above it.  It is a wonderful example of a temple built in harmony with its natural environment.  Dating from the early part of the 18th Dynasty of the New Kingdom, it is some 3,400 years old.  It has been extensively restored over the last century from the rather more tumbledown structure that Howard Carter would have known.  The Hathor Shrine plays an important part in the story.

One of the most important ‘clues’ Merry has that will help her solve the mystery she has stumbled across relates to the Mehet-Weret Couch.  Howard Carter famously found this along with thousands of other fabulous funerary objects inside the tomb of the boy-king Tutankhamun.  Carter found the tomb in early November 1922.  The Mehet-Weret couch was on display in the Cairo Museum for many years.  It has been recently moved to the new Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza ready for the opening.

The Mehet-Weret couch will become the key to unlocking the ancient mystery that wraps up book 2.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing pictures from some of the key locations in Tutankhamun’s Triumph.  Maybe you’ll consider reading the books.  If so, I recommend you start with book 1, Carter’s Conundrums.

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.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Carter's Conundrums

Cover of  Carter’s Conundrums. Book 1 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Tutankhamun’s Triumph. Book 2 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Hatshepsut’s Hideaway. Book 3 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Farouk’s Fancies. Book 4 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Akhenaten’s Alibi. Book 5 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Seti’s Secret. Book 6 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Belzoni’s Bequest. Book 7 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Nefertari’s Narrative. Book 8 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

An image of the cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches.

The cover of the Fiona Deal book, Ramses’ Riches. Book 9 in the series, Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt.

The trouble with writing contemporary fiction

Hi, I’m Fiona Deal, author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, all available on Amazon.  My books follow the adventures of my thoroughly modern heroine Merry as she unlocks secrets from Egypt’s ancient past and unravels centuries’ old mysteries.

I started writing the books back in 2012 and decided to set them in the present day.  There are now nine books in the series, and I’m embarking on my tenth.

Deciding to make the books contemporary (rather than historical) fiction has been both a blessing and a curse.

I’ve been fascinated by ancient Egypt since I was a child, so researching its pharaonic history to provide the mysteries for my novels has always been a pleasure and never felt like hard work.  But to actually set my books in ancient Egypt ?  Well, that felt like a leap too far.  I wanted my characters to experience Egypt the way I do.  Part of the joy of writing them has been imagining myself into Merry’s shoes, and living her adventures along with her.  And hoping that my readers might do the same.

But it’s meant I’ve had to stay true to events in Egypt and around the world as they’ve unfolded.  When I started writing the series in April 2012, a little over a year after the Arab Spring I could never have imagined the political turmoil that would topple President Mohamed Morsi (Egypt’s first democratically elected president) from office just a year or so later.  Nor the terrorist atrocities that would rock its tourist industry.  And now we have the lockdown of the Coronavirus around the world. So travel to the Nile Valley (or anywhere else for that matter) is off-limits.

I’ve had to negotiate my way around these obstacles and – wherever possible – weave them into my stories.  All of which rather makes me wonder if my decision to write modern stories was the right one after all.

Lucky for me, I do have a couple of years to play with.  There’s an advantage to having been so deeply distracted by events in my own life recently.  These have included taking on a whole new remit at work, and also a new relationship.

Merry’s last adventure took place in early 2017 when tourism to Egypt was just starting to pick up.  (She herself may have had a small part to play in all that !!)  So I can let her plunge headfirst into some new adventures while also bringing her up-to-date.  And maybe Merry can somehow escape the Coronavirus-related restrictions altogether.

For the rest of us the options right now are more limited. I was lucky enough to visit Cairo twice last year.  And I spent two weeks over Christmas and New Year 2019-20 in Egypt exploring the sites of Aswan and Luxor, with a short Nile cruise thrown in for good measure.  But sadly my trip to Cairo scheduled for the 2020 Easter weekend became a Coronavirus casualty.

But on the upside… since world travel is impossible right now, it leaves only the opportunity of exploring foreign parts vicariously: through TV, films, books and online.  Speaking for myself, this means throwing myself into writing Merry’s latest adventure.  So I can take myself off to Egypt in my imagination and experience its sights and sounds, the dust and the heat and the wonder of its ancient monuments.

If you feel like travelling to Egypt right now, even if only from your armchair, you might want to join Merry on her adventures.  Please click on each picture for the link.  Happy travels.

The Jolie Ville hotel, Luxor (setting for 3 of my books)

The Jolie Ville hotel is a perfect place to unwind and relax.  It’s set on its own island in the Nile – King’s Island – a ten minute drive from central Luxor.  Currently ranked 9th of 63 hotels in Luxor on TripAdvisor.

Sadly right now it’s off limits and unable to welcome holidaymakers drawn by its fabulous botanical-like gardens, vast swimming pools and dreamy view of the Nile.  So while the Coronavirus lockdown is in place in so much of the world, those of you who, like me, love to travel in your imagination, might like a little look at where my central character Meredith Pink was staying when she embarked on her adventures in Egypt.