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REVIEW: Flesh of the God by Lauren Haney

edited to correct city name

Dear Ms Haney,

book review After a weekend spent watching “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns,” I was in the mood for ancient Egypt. When I saw your books listed at Fictionwise and they were offering Buywise discounts, well it was a good deal. I’m slightly confused about the order in which the series should be read but from what I can gather, you went back and wrote this book as an intro to the already established series. Correct me if I’m wrong.

I love the historical detail and agree that it’s a fine line between a) including enough – especially for a time period that’s not used often enough for readers to be familiar and comfortable with it – b) not having enough or c) going overboard. I could feel the baking heat, see the blinding sun, smell the sweat. Thank you for including reminders about the importance of religion in the lives of the characters. But lots of these characters seem fairly naive. Bak wonders that anyone could attack a woman, he marvels that anyone would be willing to risk punishment to commit murder or other serious crimes. Really? Has he been that sheltered?

Bak as a policeman – well, he’s not. At least not at first. He’s a trained Army officer – something that helps him many times, but he’s not been trained to interview witnesses, set up sting operations, investigate a crime scene, etc. I’m willing to cut him some slack during his first time at bat but it’s something I hope he begins to pick up. I think he will as by book’s end, he seems to be shifting his focus more towards how a law enforcer would think. However in this story, he took the word of his suspects quite a few times such as when certain people told him they couldn’t read. They know he’s investigating a murder so why should he believe anything they say without independent corroboration?

The mystery was nicely done if a bit dragged out. There’s a lot of “setting the scene” that must be done with a first book but I have to agree with another reviewer I read who said she wanted to know more about Bak. Even after reading a very long book, I still don’t know that much about the man himself. Yes, I know his honor, integrity, courage and intelligence but not much about his background beyond the fact that he’s been banished to this godforsaken frontier town because he mad some important people mad during a raid on a brothel.

I know I said I like the period detail – and I do – but there’s a lot of detail that wasn’t needed and that tended to slow the action to a crawl. At the beginning of the book, we get a very detailed description of the house in which the initial crime takes place. Was it needed? Well, not as much since there’re even more descriptions during later scenes. The battle against the raiders during the return from the gold mine dragged on as well and since this is an action sequence, it needs to move quickly.

For the most part, the dialogue isn’t too modern nor is it ponderously faux old fashioned – except towards the end when for some reason, all of a sudden we’re getting stuff like this: “Bak checked, not for the first time, the dagger at his waist.” “He had coveted it exceedingly when first he had laid eyes on it.”

I like that Bak is very concerned about the men under his command. He might not want to be in Buhen, definitely doesn’t want to do what he’s been assigned to do but he’s determined that his men be protected from the prejudice of the townspeople and accepted as a legitimate source of law and order in this wild, frontier town.

Am I willing to try another Lieutenant Bak book? You betcha. Did I like it? Yes. Do I hope that things pick up, speed up and get moving? Oh, please. And do I want to learn more about Bak as I hope for his future? If you wouldn’t mind. B-for “Flesh of the God.”

~Jayne

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

17 Comments

  1. Michelle
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 16:30:34

    This sounds really interesting. I’m curious as to whether other folks have read any Bak books and if they suggest starting with this book or a different one in the series.

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  2. lucidscreamer
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 17:16:57

    I love the Lt. Bak series, both for the characters and for the details of life in ancient Egypt. (I also really enjoy the fact that the series does not revolve around royalty or life in the palace, which is fairly unusual for books set in ancient Egypt.) I do think the other books in the series tend to move at a faster pace, and the reader does learn more about Bak in the other books.

    Nitpick: It’s Buhen, not Buhan.

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  3. Jayne
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 18:37:51

    Whoops, sorry about that. Here’s some more info on Buhen.

    ReplyReply

  4. Jayne
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 18:45:04

    Lucidscreamer, should we read the rest of the series in the order in which Haney wrote them? Are they numbered somehow?

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  5. lucidscreamer
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 19:40:21

    Jayne, unfortunately the books are not numbered. I once worked out the approximate chronology, but unfortunately, I moved and lost the paper I wrote it on. I know that I did not read them in order, but there is some continuity between books, so it’s probably less confusing to read them chronologically. If you like, I can get out my copies and try to work out the reading order again.

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  6. DS
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 19:43:09

    This book was only available in German until she had put out five or six other Brak books, so it’s not necessary to read the first two in order– but it would have helped. I kept thinking I had missed something while reading the first book published in English, so I kept checking back to see if there was something wrong with my copy.

    I really like these books but sometimes her characters seemed as stiff and posed as Egyptian figural art. However, she is accurate based on what was known– Egyptian archaeology is an evolving field with advances in DNA testing and other applied scientific technologies. I remember reading a favorable review of one of her books in KMT, a journal about Ancient Egypt.

    Here’s KMT’s web site: http://www.kmtjournal.com/ It is pricey but worth checking out at a library if nothing else.

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  7. Maya Reynolds
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 05:07:47

    I was just thinking the other day of Lynda S. Robinson’s Lord Meren Egyptian mysteries and how much I enjoyed them.

    She also writes (wrote?) romances under the name Suzanne Robinson, but it appears to be five years since her last book.

    Anyone know if she’s still writing?

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  8. Jayne
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 18:39:17

    I’ve heard of the Lord Meren series too. I’ll have to try one of them and see how I like it. I have read a few of her romance novels before and enjoyed them. Thanks for the reminder!

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  9. Jayne
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 18:45:32

    I’ll head over to Fictionwise and check out the earliest copyright date for the next Bak book and try and read them in chronological order. I got this list from Fantasticfiction.co.uk.

    Lieutenant Bak
    1. The Right Hand of Amon (1997)
    2. A Face Turned Backward (1999)
    3. A Vile Justice (1999)
    4. A Curse of Silence (2000)
    5. A Place of Darkness (2001)
    6. A Cruel Deceit (2002)
    7. Flesh of the God (2003)
    8. A Path of Shadows (2003)

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  10. Lynne
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 19:08:57

    I’ve been wondering the same thing, Maya. I own pretty much everything she’s ever written and would dearly love to read more. Her Lord of the Dragon is one of my all-time keepers.

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  11. Maya Reynolds
    Jul 27, 2008 @ 20:36:45

    Lynne: I own all the Lord Meren books and have re-read most of them over the years. I really liked them.

    Although I have to say, I wasn’t crazy about the sixth one, which as far as I know was the last thing she’s written.

    For those interested in the Lord Meren books, he is the Eyes and Ears of Pharoah during Tut’s reign. Essentially he’s an Egyptian PI although probably closer to the rank of Lord Peter Wimsey. Each book contains a single mystery, but there is a overarching mystery that begins in the first book and is finally resolved in the sixth book.

    The technique for the sixth book–moving back and forth from the past to present in alternating chapters–just annoyed the hell out of me. I put it down half a dozen times and don’t remember now if I ever finished it.

    But I can highly recommend the earlier books.

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  12. L.E. Bryce
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 01:13:19

    Brad Geagley’s Semerket series is also pretty good.

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  13. Maya Reynolds
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 07:25:47

    L.E.: Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll go looking for that.

    Switching cultures, have you tried Lindsey Davis’ Marcus Didius Falco series set in Rome during first century Rome? It’s masterfully written.

    Jayne: Thanks so much for this thread. Now I have two new series to check out.

    Regards,

    Maya

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  14. Jayne
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 08:10:21

    Me wuvs Falco! Me needs to find the rest of the books me already owns in that series that me hasn’t read yet.

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  15. Maya Reynolds
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 12:40:10

    Jayne: I know just how you feel. After I read the first couple, I ran out and bought the entire series. Still working my way through them.

    I’ve made the mistake of loaning out a couple I had not yet read. Now I have to get them back!

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  16. Sara
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 12:50:23

    Thanks, I’m going to check this out! I recently read the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters (who also writes as Barbara Michaels), which is absolutely fantastic and hilarious (and made me crave more Egypt). Lion in the Valley (link to the ebook) was possibly my favorite.

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  17. Pieter
    Sep 09, 2008 @ 12:33:23

    Does anyone know whether she’ll write more books about Bak?

    ReplyReply

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