Title: “Lord of the Two Lands”
Author: Judith Tarr
Number of Pages: 416
Date of Publication: January 15, 1994
4 stars: Alexander the Great told from an Egyptian point of view
Judith Tarr tells a story which is rich with description, and she refreshingly tells it from an Egyptian point of view. There are too many historical fictions told from the Greek or Macedonian or even Persian point of view. An Egyptian perspective is quite fascinating. Meriamon, a priestess, (and the daughter of a Pharaoh) is the main character. We read of her journey, why she must meet Alexander the Great, and how she helps and guides him to his goals. Since I have a great interest in Alexander the Great, I was afraid that the story would deal mainly with Meriamon and Egypt, and not enough with Alexander. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Meriamon’s story is greatly intertwined with Alexander’s. Also, I was also glad to see that Judith Tarr acknowledged Alexander’s close relationship with his good friend Hephaistion, who is often overlooked.
Some of my thoughts on the story: While you don’t have to know Egyptian history to read this book, I’m sure it would help. I’m not familiar with many Egyptian gods other than Ra and Anubis, and found myself struggling a bit; also, part of the book is romance- Meriamon falling in love with one of Alexander’s close soldiers- and it is done in such a way that it is quite believable. There are one or two love scenes- very short- but they kind of pop out of nowhere (–my reason for giving it four stars). Also, the book switches from Meriamon’s point of view to other characters’ point of view, so be sure to pay attention or it will become confusing.
I felt that Judith Tarr had a very good grasp on Alexander’s character. He was an amazing general and strategist, but he also did some foolish things (as everyone does). Overall, I’d recommend this story. If you’d like to read more historical fiction concerning Alexander the Great, I’d recommend Mary Renault’s Alexander trilogy: Fire from Heaven, The Persian Boy, and Funeral Games. I also just finished Melissa Scott’s A Choice of Destinies and would recommend that as well.
Just a note: Judith Tarr has written another story which deals with Alexander the Great (“Queen of the Amazons”) but it is not a sequel to this story. Each can stand alone. Also, another Alexander the Great story will be released soon called “Bringing Down the Sun”, but this too stands alone.