Monday, October 10, 2011

Egypt The Uprising Battle for Ma'at by Amira Aly

Egypt the Uprising
Battle for Ma'at
by Almira Aly

A debut novel like no other-- touches on the apocalyptic flavors of the times and tells of a history that transcends the past.

Why is the Arab world in turmoil? What instigated the Spring of Freedom?
There is more to the story than meets the eye...
The very fabric of the world is at stake.

And , believe it or not, your fate lies in the hands of one book-loving Egyptian teen with an extraordinary heritage .

Aya is an Egyptian teenage girl trying to mind her own business and take care of her brother. As their country is swept by the tides of a revolution against a tyrant nicknamed the vile pharaoh, Aya tries to stay adrift. But her blood has something different in store for her.

Learning what the Ancients have always known, She joins a battle for truth and freedom-- a battle for Ma'at.

It is not just a story, however, it is a world-within-world, and a fresh tantalizing outlook on the events in our modern events.

This elegant novella is an introduction to a multi-volume series... The Battle for Maat.

I hate to say it, but I have to say it.  I did not enjoy this book.  There are many reasons and most have to do with me, not the book.  First, I thought I was well versed in the mythology of ancient Egypt.  Not so.  Not by a long shot.  I had no idea who or what Ma'at was or half of the other ancients were in the Neteru discussed in the book.  I don't know if you can find fault with the author on that one.  Can you?  Except for, I left the novel still not really understanding who they were.  There were too many and each had too many names.  Maybe a glossary would have helped.  And I don't know that later editions didn't include one.

The second, the flow, it didn't.  It stopped at each part of the story.  First there was the revolution and the bloodshed.  Then Aya,'s brother joins the fray and she loses him.  It's never clear whether he's dead or just captured.  Aya doesn't know.  Then she's IM-ing the ancient goddess Ma'at.

There is a long slog through a tunnel under the Sphinx and I don't understand it's purpose.  Nothing is really learned.  People disappear and reappear with no explanation.  There is a secret society that Aya's mother was part of and it's possible she's still alive.  

The conclusion is not conclusive and one character is not accounted for at all.  The scientific explanations were not necessary to the story, though I understand why she included them for a certain character's background.  And I was totally lost with what the intent of the bad guys were doing and how they were using Sheddy.

So, I was clueless, bored, and confused as to where and what was happening.

I do think the story has a lot of promise.  After they get out of the tunnel under the Sphinx and meet more people, things get interesting and it was a fast read.  But that wasn't until the middle of the book.  Aya has some bits of humor sprinkled in that are truly great.  When Ma'at starts IM-ing her she says "What should I change my handle to Isis Goddes of Magic?" (p.6).  And this is one of the first novels I've seen the appropriate level of sadness for the loss of a loved one shown.  It seems that so many times that people go on the next day as if nothing has happened.

If you know a lot about Egyptian mythology and Egypt itself, you will find this novel fascinating.  They visit many sacred places, and touch on the idea of ley lines, vampires and of course immortality.  And World Destruction.  Those ideas are sometimes hard to understand, but also interesting, especially ley lines.  This isn't the first novel I've seen them mentioned in.

The writing is easy to understand.  The sentences are simple and it doesn't read like a translation at all.  I believe the author was educated in the US and writes in English very well.  No awkward phrasing or misuse of words.  

So that's my honest review.  I received this book from the author for no monetary compensation.  I doubt I'll be receiving the sequel.  



  1. Good on you for your honesty. Gotta say I know nil about this historical time or location and your review does little too encourage me to bother reading it. Not much of a fan of novella anyway - I always feel short-changed ;D

    I recently read TOUCH - a YA novel which I'll be reviewing after its release - 1st November, if you're interested. I'll no doubt remind you closer to the event ;D

    Todays Monday Madness post is up:

    Shah .X

  2. Hm. Being clueless and bored are two things I don't want to be while reading so I think I'll be passing on this one! I don't like all the stopping and starting either, that would get frustrating after a very short while:)

  3. Interesting. Maat is more of a personified concept, but is extremely important to ancient Egyptian culture and religion. Except, "freedom" wasn't really one of the aspects of Maat. So it seems like a more modern conception of Maat.

    I may check it out just to see this author's take on ancient Egyptian beliefs just because I'm delving into them myself in my own WIPs.

  4. Shah- I was working on a post for Monday Madness, but got so depressed by it that I stopped. I'll write about it on my writing blog.

    Jenny- No this isn't your type of book at all.

    Sarah-I felt bad giving this such a bad review, but Ma'at in this is justice and it's kind of a three level concept. She has a secret society. And despite all the bloodshed and chaos, Aya feels immediate peace as she's flying with her.(This is one of the situations when everyone disappears and you don't know where they are).

    Maybe Almira assumed we Westerners were smarter than we are when it comes to their culture though there were some very good reviews for it on Good Reads. It just went right over my head.

    If your WIP deals with this subject, can you dumb it done for me?


  5. Well, I for one appreciate your honesty. The worst thing in the world is when you read a book and are left feeling completely lost and confused. I want answers from the book. I want to know where the characters go. I want a true conclusion. This sounds like a hot mess, but you were very professional and courteous :)

  6. Maat is actually fairly easy to understand, if not very easy for us, as Westerners, to accept. Maat is truth, justice, order and morality. More pointedly, Maat is "the right way to do things" to maintain order in the world. And it was the mandate given to the king by the gods to uphold the concepts of Maat to maintain that order.

    Re has placed the king
    in the land of the living,
    forever and ever
    judging humankind
    and satisfying the gods,
    realizing Maat and destroying Isfet.

    The Egyptians basically believed that Egypt was an island of order in a world of chaos (Isfet) and that this was because the king upheld and realized Maat.

    So it seems very odd, to me, that in that book Maat would be the champion of revolutionaries, against the king. It's basically the opposite of how the Egyptians actually viewed Maat.

  7. Heather,

    Thank you so much for your very professional and honest review. I really appreciate you taking the time to write such a well thought-out, detailed, review.

    I just wanted to make a few points regarding the mythology. The mythos as presented in Egypt the Uprising (and the Battle for Maat) are not the traditional views, there is a basic premise that opperates about the Neteru (something which Maat tells Aya early on) and this is where the story departs from how archeologists see the ancient Egyptian gods and what they represented.

    No pre-requiste knowledge is built upon, most of the Netery stories in the book are fictional. They are by no mean what Egyptologists teach :)

    Sarah-- The Sci fi element in the story is related to pharaohs and rulers manipulating the people's brain waves into submission and fooling them by claiming that Ma'at supports it. She manifests herself to expose the lies that people have been told about the importance of submitting to rulers in the name of order. So in that sense, Ma'at asserts herself as the Lady of Justice first and foremost.

    Egyptian mythology is very tricky and I took a rather liberal approach in interpreting it, as opposed to , say, Rick Riordian who based all his gods and goddesses's characters, backstories and dispositions on Egyptologists accounts of their stories.

    Sarah--If you ever want to compare notes email me :)

    Thank you all,
    Amira Aly.

  8. Amira-
    I had no idea this wasn't true Egyptian mythology. And I don't understand Neteru. And I didn't really understand what Maat stood for in the story. So, like I said confused. But as I said in the review, I think that was my problem, not yours. I just couldn't grasp the concepts.

    As I stated the writing was well done and I do think the series shows promise. It's just not my story. But like I also said, the reviews on Good Reads really liked it, so please don't let my review affect you. Sometimes a reader and a book, just don't click.



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