It is more than 1300 years before the birth of Christ and the mighty Egyptian Empire is at the peak of its power.
The ancient civilisation is enjoying unprecedented prosperity during the 18th Dynasty under some of Egypt’s most famous Pharaohs – Ahmose I, Hatshepsut, Thutmose III, Amenhotep III, Akhenaten and Tutankhamun.
But every empire has its rivals – here the Hittites, the Mittani, Nubians and Assyrians – and every royal family its enemies.
Smenkhkare is the youngest son of Amenhotep III and brother to Akhenamun – later to become the ruler Akhenaten – and Thutmose, plus three older sisters.
The scheming Akhenamun dismisses Smenkhkare as a mere stripling, but the wise warrior Thutmose takes the boy under his wing and sets out to make a man of him.
This is crucial for Smenkhkare whose father has decided that the only role for the boy will be through a marriage of convenience to the beautiful Mittani princess Taduheppa.
The bride is ravishing – but older and more worldly – and refuses to consummate the coupling.
Full of sympathy for his little brother, Thutmose advises patience and also invites Smenkhkare to accompany him on a raid to hunt down bandits who have attacked a caravan in the desert.
It is a fateful moment. Thutmose is killed by an arrow through the neck, igniting a calamitous chain of events as Smenkhkare discovers the arrow did not come from a bandit’s bow.
Who, then, did fire the fatal missile? Who would benefit most from the death of the man next in line for the pharoah’s throne? Could the murderer be within his own family? Or was someone else close to the family plotting to seize power?
Can Smenkhkare trust his favourite sister Nebetah with his thoughts? Can trusted general Coreb help him in his bid to avenge the death of Thutmose? Who would try to eliminate Smenkhkare by placing a deadly cobra in a basket under his bed? And what are the ghastly contents in two other baskets thrust under Smenkhkare’s nose?
David Adkins’ absorbing historical re-imagining The Forgotten Pharaoh, explores the extraordinary and dangerous life and times of a real but little known figure from history – from his child-marriage to exile and then reinstatement in Thebes as pharaoh of one of the most influential dynasties of the ancient civilised world.
David Adkins is a retired civil servant who worked for many years at English Heritage. He lives in Letchworth Garden City with his wife. His other historical fiction books to date are The Eagle’s Nest and the Wolf’s Lair, The End of a Dynasty and Season of the Gladiatrix.