Author: Vanessa MacLellan
Genre: archaeological fiction
Price: $5.99 (ebook) $16 (trade paperback)
Publisher: Hadley Rille Books
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed by: Chris Gerrib
In the tradition of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court comes the debut novel of author Vanessa MacLellan, Three Great Lies. At the start of the story, American tourist Jeannette Walker, traveling in Egypt, decides to go off the beaten path to see a newly-discovered and thus unspoiled ancient tomb. Thanks to unknown powers, Jeannette is transported to a time when the tomb was fairly new, that of Old Kingdom Egypt. Fortunately, the same powers that transport Jeannette allow her to understand and speak the local language.
But that’s about the only good thing going for Jeannette. The tomb’s occupant, a mummy, wants her to find his ba or soul. There’s a cat-headed girl, freshly booted out of her litter, sent to “help” Jeannette, and Jeannette’s managed to come afoul of the Slave Master of Thebes. She scoots out of town and heads upriver (which in Egypt is south) and tries to get her bearings.
MacLellan spent a lot of time researching ancient Egypt, and it shows. The everyday lives and wardrobe (or lack of same) of the locals is painted in great detail. We discover that beer was very important to Egyptians, and at the time they made beer by fermenting bread in water, which means you needed a straw to drink your beer!
In Mark Twain’s book, the title character used his knowledge of science to get out of trouble. Here, Jeannette’s modern knowledge is of little help. What is of help is her persistence and willingness to adapt to local customs. Jeannette’s curiosity helps, as it allows her to solve a local mystery and get right with the Slave Master, who is what passes for law in Thebes.
I found Three Great Lies a fascinating book, and well worth the reading.