BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: Death of an Eye



Title: Death of an Eye (The Eye of Isis Mysteries Book One)

Publisher: Head of Zeus

Author: Dana Stabenow

Pages: 400 pp

Price: $29.95 (hardcover)

Alexandria, Egypt. Cleopatra VII Philopater has won the heart and support of Julius Caesar, but she is surrounded by enemies -- among them, her own brother and co-ruler, Ptolemy. When her most loyal covert agent is murdered, Cleopatra calls upon her oldest friend to investigate: Tetisheri .... Only recently divorced from an abusive husband and still aching from the loss of her child at birth, Tetisheri is reluctant to answer the Queen's call. But Cleopatra and Egypt alike need her. The future of her Queen and her homeland are at stake. With the assistance of Apollodorus, once the Queen's bodyguard, Tetisheri sets out to discover how and why her predecessor was murdered and what lengths the enemies of Egypt will go to to see Cleopatra dead ....

I stumbled across an advance copy of Death of an Eye on netgalley, and immediately snatched it up. I had never read a book by Stabenow, but the premise intrigued me; plus, I love almost anything having to do with Cleopatra VII.

I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Death of an Eye. Stabenow did her homework. The attention to detail is amazing. I could almost see Alexandria in my head, and I got hungry walking its streets with Tetisheri and Apollodorus. Cleopatra is as cunning as I expected, while Tetisheri is wonderful: loyal and intelligent, fair-minded and compassionate -- so much so that she goes around rescuing slaves (especially female slaves) whenever she can. Apollodorus is a real treat, as well: handsome, but not arrogant, and lethal when he needs to be, though he dislikes killing.

The mystery is also engaging. Who knew that I would find ancient economics, the manufacture of coins, and the production of Egyptian grain so interesting?

Pagan and polytheist readers will be especially struck by the respect shown to devotion and the Gods in Death of an Eye. Tetisheri herself rarely goes anywhere without her little pendant of Bast. One of the slaves whom she rescues decides to take the name Nike, in honor of the Goddess of Victory. Aristander, the head of the Shurta (the city police), is especially devoted to Maat, whom he worships every day and offers sacrifices to every feast day. Khemit the weaver had an altar with idols of Maat, Bast, and Nit in her home, and paid to have all of her servants attend celebrations at the Temple of Isis on Pharos. Cleopatra herself even escorted the new Baucis bull to the temple of Hermonthis.

Overall, Death of an Eye is an engaging and entertaining mystery, filled with historical details and sympathetic characters. Highly recommended to fans of historical murder mysteries, historical fiction set during the reign of Cleopatra VII, and Pagan readers looking for a good book that takes their faith seriously.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


  • Chas  S. Clifton
    Chas S. Clifton Sunday, 04 November 2018

    That's going to be a switch from all her Alaska mysteries, the Kate Shugak series! Who knew?

  • Rebecca Buchanan
    Rebecca Buchanan Monday, 05 November 2018

    @Chas. S. Clifton: after reading "Death of an Eye," I have added the Shugak series to my (very long) To Read list. :)

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