Bird in a Snare Book Review: Intrigue in Ancient Egypt

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Book reviews are something new we’re tackling here at Gamespace. We’ll talk about great books and then link them to some great games that complement what’s written on the page. Our first foray into this new type of article is Bird in a Snare (The Lord Hani Mysteries Book 1) by N.L. Holmes. Interestingly, Holmes is the pen name of an archeologist and university professor. Her expertise clearly shows in what she’s written.

The story centers around Lord Hani, a mid-level diplomat who is known to the current pharaoh, Amenhotep III.  After a summons to the palace, Hani is instructed to go to Syria to ferret out the reasons behind a murder that could have serious consequences for the security of Egypt. The murder is embedded within political intrigue in the area. Corrupt officials, tenuous relationships and alliances between leaders, and threats to the safety of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms add a sense of urgency to Hani’s mission, a mission that goes unfinished when he is summoned back to the capital after Amenhotep III’s death. The heir to the throne, once known as Amenhotep IV, throws the kingdom into an uproar as he changes his name to Akhenaten and tosses out the ancient worship of the gods in favor of only one: the Ahten. Worried for his family and for his career, Hani waits for a summons from the new king which he ultimately receives. His mission is complete, but he is returned to Syria to investigate other matters on the king’s behalf. As he does, he sees the changes coming to Egypt as a whole and he wonders whether his life of service to the pharaoh is coming to an end as the ways of the new king seem at odds with his own.

Bird in a Snare

As stated earlier, Holmes’ expertise in archeology shines in Bird in a Snare. She paints a vivid and living portrait of an ancient world that most of us only know through photographs of weathered mummies and timeless pyramids. The author offers a glimpse into the religious and civic activities of Ancient Egypt, dry subjects for many that she has made accessible and interesting. Juxtaposed against the big picture is Hani’s life with his family. For many, picturing daily and often mundane life is almost impossible, yet Holmes brings the ancient world to life in ways that give the book’s characters relevance in today’s world. Hani is a devoted family man to his wife and five children. His worries about their safety as the murderer and accomplices try to stop him from revealing the truth. He frets over the changes being implemented by Akhenaten and how it will affect the nation. In fact, Hani is the perfect bridge between historical fact and the more personal side of ancient life.

The story is never dull. Hani is surrounded by the members of his family as well as an interesting and varied cast of secondary characters that embody nearly every archetype one can imagine. Devoted co-worker? Check. Lying government officials? Check. Black sheep son? Check. In short, there are characters spread across the breadth of human experience. Holmes writes in an accomplished way that keeps the pages turning. Whether she is speaking to the religious upheaval that Akhenaten brought or the anguish a father feels looking on a handicapped child, she offers readers a fascinating tale. Ancient Egypt has never been so alive.

In the end, Holmes’ book is a triumph for fans of historical fiction. It is a well-crafted, well-written mystery with an ending that may surprise even the most ardent literary sleuths out there. I can authoritatively say that Bird in a Snare (The Lord Hani Mysteries Book 1) is a worthy addition to any reader’s library. I am eagerly awaiting the next time I get to visit Hani and his family and it should be very soon. The Crocodile Makes No Sound (The Lord Hani Mysteries Book 2) and Scepter of Flint (The Lord Hani Mysteries Book 3) are already out!

Love Ancient Egypt?

If you’re a fan of Ancient Egypt and love to imagine what life was like in those days, reading Bird in a Snare is certainly something I would recommend. If you want to see Ancient Egypt brought to life, you may also like to try out Assassin’s Creed Origins, Ubisoft’s 2017 addition to the long-running game series. Developers worked with an archeologist on staff to ensure that their vision of Ancient Egypt was accurate including styles of architecture, dress, foods, and more. While there are obviously fanciful features in the game, the visuals provide players with a sense of the grandeur of the ancient kingdom. For those who may prefer to just enjoy the beauty of an ancient time, the game offers the Discovery Tour that removes game elements and allows players to simply enjoy the view. Assassin’s Creed Origins is available for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.

Assassin's Creed Origins

About Assassin’s Creed Origins

Ancient Egypt, a land of majesty and intrigue, is disappearing in a ruthless fight for power. Unveil dark secrets and forgotten myths as you go back to the one founding moment: The Origins of the Assassin’s Brotherhood.

  • A country to discover: Sail down the Nile, uncover the mysteries of the pyramids or fight your way against dangerous ancient factions and wild beasts as you explore this gigantic and unpredictable land.
  • A new story every time you play: Engage in multiple quests and gripping stories as you cross paths with strong and memorable characters, from the wealthiest high-born to the most desperate outcasts.
  • Embrace action-RPG: Experience a completely new way to fight. Loot and use dozens of weapons with different characteristics and rarities. Explore deep progression mechanics and challenge your skills against unique and powerful bosses.
Written by
Suzie is an avid gamer and has been since 1995. She lives in the desert with her own personal minion while dreaming of pixel worlds beyond Earth.

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