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Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life: 04/11/15

cover art

Tutankhamen/Tutankhamun/ formerly known as Tutankhaten, late pharoah of the 18th dynasty, is someone whose always been part of my life. First through the old (though not my his standards) single, Old King Tut (not the Steve Martin version, I'm talking the old Billy Jones and Earnest Hare Columbia recording). Then in high school I took AP Art History and the treasures in his tomb featured heavily in the section on Ancient Egypt. So did a black and white photograph of his mummified face which scared the bejeebers out of me the first dozen or so times I had to look at.

As a coping mechanism, I decided to learn everything I could about the boy king, his life and his death. I read everything by local public library had, everything my high school had, and everything I could afford to purchase (or convince people to give me) at used book stores.

Although the Ancient Egypt part of AP Art History was long over — and later the class itself was long over, I continued to read. I read fiction along with the nonfiction and became a bit of a Tutankhamen fan girl, if such a thing is possible.

One of the things that came out of all this research was a novel (unpublished, and I think now lost on a long dead computer) called A Dead Giveaway about Tutankhamen working as Howard Carter's Egyptian foreman. The idea was that when the Priest Ay performed the opening of the mouth, Osiris took pity and made sure it actually worked, thus breathing life back into the now mummified remains of Tutankhamen. So at the end of the book after lots of adventures in modern (well, late 1920s/mid 1930s Egypt), Tutankhamen finally passes to the after life properly and his mummy falls apart from all the abuse he'd put it through (instead of it being taken apart by the men who were cataloging the tomb).

That part of my life faded with the responsibilities of college, graduate school, work, and parenting. But I'm still a sucker for a Tutankhamen story. Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life by P.J. Hoover, caught my eye in the new books section of my local library. The title right away had my attention. I had to read it — immediately, if not sooner.

Hoover begins her version of things with his death, again a murder. There's a curse involved and the gods intervene and rather than being put back into his body as an animated mummy, he's brought back to life and made immortal. He's also placed under the protection of the gods.

Now interestingly, in Hoover's book, he's much younger than he actually was at the time of death. That's saying a lot since he was only about 18 or 19 at his death. Here he's about 12 and he's currently stuck going from middle school to middle school. Worse yet, he's stuck writing a report on himself, and he's got a nerd of a partner who is as much a fan boy as I am a fan girl. It's just more than he can stand.

Although Tut's partner is described as a blond guy, personality wise he was so much like Tucker from Danny Phantom that I just recast the role, making him a Black nerd. I'll admit to also picturing Tut looking a bit like Danny Fenton, so it comes out as a wash, as Tut is accurately described as having dark skin.

At first I had some serious qualms about this big gap in Tutankhamen's age of immortality and what's taught in the history books. What about Ankhenesamen, his queen? What about the body that's on display in his tomb? What about all the evidence that shows he lived six or seven years longer? The truth is, Tut doesn't know and therefore neither to do we. He's aware of the inconsistencies and doesn't have an explanation for it. It's just part of the cover up the gods made for him to protect him from the curse.

Meanwhile at home, Tut has a "brother" who is another immortal with his own tragic back story. A big part of the second half of the book is learning the brother's part in Tut's on going protection. They have a similar relationship as Sam and Dean Winchester, minus the actually being brothers bit.

I think anyone who has enjoyed Rick Riordan's books (either the Olympus ones or the Egypt ones) will like Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life. Although the book stands alone just fine, I would love to revisit the characters. Gil's story itself could be fleshed out into a book. There's a lot of possibility for more here.

Five stars

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