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.

Ramses’ Riches now published

Please click here to find out more or purchase

book 9 - v3On a mission to Egypt to retrace the steps of the great explorer Giovanni Belzoni, the next stop is Abu Simbel.  But Merry and friends have more reasons for wanting to make the trip down Lake Nasser than just to see The Great Temple of Ramses that Belzoni famously dug from the sand.

First, there’s the golden statuette of Helen of Troy apparently found there.  And second, the promise – on very good authority – of a stash of treasure.

Intrigued and mystified – as both are surely impossible – Merry sets sail to find out more.

This is the ninth book in my fiction series following Meredith Pink’s adventures in Egypt. The books are escapist fiction – adventure stories – set in the present day.  All have an ancient Egyptian mystery at their heart.

IDBC00078 Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt - Fiona Deal - CCThe first book in the series is Carter’s Conundrums.  It starts with Merry, on holiday in Egypt, getting trapped inside the Howard Carter Museum in Luxor, and making a discovery … This sets her off an a treasure hunt, and the adventure of a lifetime.

The books are aimed at adults who enjoy action, mystery and adventure stories.  And at anybody with at least a passing interest in ancient Egypt; its mysteries, treasures and enduring civilisation.

All books are available in Kindle and paperback formats on Amazon.  I do hope you enjoy them…

Fiona Deal




Top 10 places to visit in Egypt

This list is my personal top 10, so feel free to disagree with me.  I think I’ll do it as a countdown …

IMG_4517So, in at number 10.  The stepped pyramid at Sakkara (or Saqqara as it’s sometimes spelled).  Merry and Adam take a trip to see the stepped pyramid in Carter’s Conundrums.  It’s where Merry has a revelation about what Howard Carter’s mysterious message might mean.   I was last at Sakkara in 2008.

IMG_4625At number 9, the Temple of Edfu, probably the best preserved of all the ancient Egyptian temples.  It dates from the Graeco-Roman period, and is included on the Nile cruise itinerary’s.  It’s the location of a scene in Hatshepsut’s Hideaway.

Here I am outside the main pylon – March 2008.

IMG_4215At number 8, the Temple of Philae, near Aswan.  It’s a lovely temple, also dating from the Graeco-Roman period, and dedicated to the goddess Isis.  It was rescued by UNESCO as after the British dam was built in the early twentieth century it spent half the year under water.  UNESCO moved it piece by piece to the nearby island of Agilika.  Not yet used as a location in my books.  Here I am in January 2012.

IMG_4505Number 7 is the pyramid and sphinx (not sure if it’s cheating to put them together) on the Giza plateau in Cairo.  The pyramids tower over the surrounding suburbia.  Merry sits near the swimming pool in Le Meridien hotel, gazing in awe at the pyramids in Tutankhamun’s Triumph.

IMG_0825At number 6, I’ll go for the Temple of Medinet Habu, built by Ramses III and located on the West Bank at Luxor.  It’s not always included in the touring itineraries, but well worth an independent visit.  The original colours are beautifully preserved.

Not yet used as a location in my books.

scan0108At number 5, The Valley of the Kings.  A barren, desolate and rather forbidding place … once stuffed with enough gold to sink a battle ship, buried in the tombs of the dead pharaohs.  It’s forbidden to take photographs nowadays – so here’s one of me taken back in 2004.  The Valley of the Kings features prominently in Carter’s Conundrums.

scan0141Number 4, the wonderful Winter Palace hotel.  I was lucky enough to stay here for New Year in 2008-9; the best New Year’s Eve ever!  Frequented by both Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon in the years leading up to the 1922 discovery of Tutankhamun.  I used it as a location in Carter’s Conundrums, where Merry and Adam spend a romantic evening.

DSCN5281So, to my personal top 3.  At number 3 I think it has to be Hatshepsut’s Temple on the West Bank in Luxor.  It features prominently in all three books.  This is where Merry and Adam first meet (not counting the little encounter in the Luxor Museum).  Built in honour of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut, it rises on terraces to connect dramatically with the cliffs behind it.

IMG_2940At number 2, the complex of temples that make up Karnak.  The Hypostyle Hall takes my breath away every time I go there.  The temple is the largest religious structure ever built.  Words are inadequate to the task of describing it.  Merry and Adam go there to look at the obelisks in Carter’s Conundrums.

IMG_4482So, we’ve arrived at number 1.  Personally, for sheer egotistical magnificence, I don’t think you can beat the temples of Abu Simbel, built by Ramses II.  Yes, I’m cheating again.  There are actually two temples… one for Ramses himself, and a smaller one for his great royal wife Nefertari.  I walked around the latter with a lump in my throat – it’s exquisite.  They’re also a marvel of modern engineering, raised to higher ground by UNESCO to escape the rising waters of Lake Nasser.IMG_4480

So, there you have it.  My personal top 10.  I’ve not mentioned Luxor Temple, the Ramesseum, Denderah – all equally awe-inspiring.  There’s a major temple I’ve never visited, Abydos … great!  Another reason to go back !  I guess maybe I should have done a top 20!

A good time to visit Egypt as a tourist?

In view of the tragedy that unfolded in Paris yesterday, I thought it was a good time to brush the dust of this, one of my first posts about Egypt.  The Foreign Office is advising visitors to Paris to exercise extra care.  It just goes to show you can be anywhere in the world when terrorism or tragedy strikes.  Just look at the Boston marathon a couple of years back, the Mumbai and London bombings, etc.

Egypt is a nation that has experienced perhaps more than its fair share of upheaval – much of it political in recent years.  The Foreign Office still advises against all but essential travel to certain parts of the country (not including the prime tourist locations around the Red Sea and in Cairo and Luxor.  So, should tourists continue to stay away?

As someone who has visited Egypt almost every year for more than a decade, I would say GO.  The sites are quiet, the people welcoming and the weather fabulous !  Of course, be careful … but sadly that seems to be the case everywhere in the world.  Here in the UK the terror threat remains ‘severe’.  So… Egypt …

I first visited Egypt in 1983, a scant two years after the assassination of President Anwar Sadat.  We were there in October, staying near the Pyramids in the Jolie Ville hotel.  Shortly after we left it was razed to the ground in demonstrations.  I have to say I don’t remember why!  If anyone can enlighten me I’d be grateful.


Here I am – back in Egypt – this time in July 1996.  This picture was taken in the Valley of the Kings.  It was the year before the awful massacre of tourists at Hatshepsut’s temple.  I remember how shocked and horrified I was when I saw it on the News and thought how recently I’d been there.


I was back in 2002, just months after 9/11. Tourists were staying away.  Holiday prices were cheap.  The locals were as friendly and welcoming as ever – despite the usual call for baksheesh !


The next visit was 2004.  A fantastic trip.  One week on the Nile, cruising between Luxor and Aswan.  Then a week in Luxor, followed by a week at a Red Sea resort in El Quesir.  2004 was the year of the Sinai bombings, followed in 2005 with attacks in Sharm el Shiekh.  Yes, I was back in 2005 !  Just a short 1-week visit to Luxor.


In 2008 I cruised down Lake Nasser to the awe inspiring temples at Abu Simbel.  The trip also took in a few days in Cairo and a 1-week cruise down the Nile on the splendid SS Misr (used as a location in Hatshepsut’s Hideaway). Just two years previously in 2006 Egypt suffered the Dahab bombings.


Here I am with Ramses the camel at the Jolie Ville hotel in Luxor in 2009.  (Ramses features in both Carter’s Conundrums and Tutankhamun’s Triumph).  2009 saw the Khan el Khalili bombing in Cairo.


Back in 2011 – here I am at the Ramesseum on the West Bank in Luxor.  It was March, just a couple of weeks after the Revolution of the Arab Spring.  We had most of the tourist sites completely to ourselves.  It was an amazing experience.


My next trip was January 2012 – pictured here at the Avenue of Sphinxes at Luxor temple.  Demonstrations took place in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in June following Mubarak’s trial.


IMG_2007Then April 2013.  President Morsi was running the show, but it was an uneasy kind of calm before the storm of the coup d’etat that removed him from office in early July.

IMG_4730My last visit was in July 2014, a quiet break to the Jolie Ville hotel in Luxor (a beautiful retreat set on its own island in the Nile).  Tragically, I was one of only 24 guests – tourism still reeling from the recent political events.

Reading this post, I guess you might conclude there’s never a good time to visit Egypt as a tourist.  I’d have to disagree.  I think it’s possible to be in the wrong place at the wrong time anywhere in the world.  I don’t court trouble, and I’d steer clear of the Sinai Peninsular at the moment – but Egypt’s been my favourite holiday destination for the last decade.  Modern Egypt is unsettled for sure.  But historical and archaeological Egypt is not to be missed.  And the sun always shines!

Fiona Deal – Jan 2015 (updated from blog originally posted Feb 2013)

Author of Meredith Pink’s Adventures in Egypt, available to download or in paperback on Amazon.