Quick Review: The House of the Eagle by Duncan Sprott

The House of the Eagle is the first book in the Ptolemies Quartet by Duncan Sprott

Summary ( from book cover):

The House of the Eagle begins Duncan Sprott’s Ptolemies Quartet, an epic restoration of the dark and glittering story of ancient Alexandria and the Greek Pharaohs of Egypt, whose extraordinary dynasty spans twelve generations from the death of Alexander the Great to the fall of Cleopatra.

Narrated by Thoth, the ibis-headed Egyptian god of writing and wisdom, this book details the rise of the shrewd Ptolemy I from ordinary soldier of Macedon to Satrap of Egypt, and his coronation as Pharaoh and a god in his own lifetime. We follow then the astonishing history of Ptolemy’s twelve turbulent children in unending wars, domestic murders and incestuous marriages, all set against the exotic backdrop of Egypt.

With it’s cast of powerful characters – King Ptolemy himself, the violent Ptolemy Keraunos, the famous Thunderbolt, the luxury-loving Ptolemy Mikros, and their poisonous sister, Arsinoe Beta – this is a triumph of historical salvage that brings vividly to life the most bizarre family that ever existed.

My Thoughts:

This is another re-read. I’ve been clearing my bookshelves, going through them volume-by-volume, and stumbled across this one I read, probably close to when it first came out in 2004, but its story and the author’s storytelling have stayed with me. So, when I found this one again, I knew I wanted to re-read it…

I really enjoyed this book. I liked the story, the characters…pretty much everything about it. It’s a vast book, running to 445 pages, but it doesn’t feel overly long. In fact, it is engaging, engrossing, and full of drama. My favourite line comes right at the end:

“As for any man who speaks ill of this book, Thoth will fight him.”

Simply epic. I really liked Thoth as narrator. I’ve always had a soft spot for the ibis-headed god and have a small figurine of him standing on my writing desk. However, having read a couple of reviews on Goodreads, not all readers enjoyed it.

There is something quite disappointing about this four book series though. The second book, Daughter of the Crocodile, was published in 2006, but here it seems the quartet ends. However, I will certainly read the next book (at some point), and imagine I will love it just as much as this one.


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