Titans of War B by Wilbur Smith with Mark Chadbourn: A plotline soaked in blood, deceit, revenge and slaughter – book review –

For fifty years, the bloodthirsty Hyksos barbarians have brought endless war, devastation and death to the lands of Ancient Egypt.
Titans of War by Wilbur Smith with Mark ChadbournTitans of War by Wilbur Smith with Mark Chadbourn
Titans of War by Wilbur Smith with Mark Chadbourn

They are tribe that shows no mercy to anyone they encounter on their brutal march but just as desperation starts to set in, the Pharaoh’s all-powerful slave, Taita, sends out his most trusted spy on a mission that seems impossible… to journey through enemy territory and find allies to help defend Egypt.

When Wilbur Smith, the undisputed Master of Adventure, died last year at the age of 88, he left behind an incredible raft of thrilling action novels, written over a span of fifty-five years and selling over 130 million copies worldwide.

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But with the help of some talented co-writers, Smith’s golden legacy lives on and taking up the mantle for a new sequence based on the bestselling Ancient Egyptian series is screenwriter and bestselling historical novelist Mark Chadbourn, best known for his own adventures featuring the Anglo-Saxon warrior Hereward published under the pseudonym James Wilde.

Titans of War is the second book in this epic sequence which began last year with The New Kingdom and delivers bone-crunching, jaw-dropping, heart-pounding adventure with all the style, exuberance and finesse that we have come to expect from the Wilbur Smith stable.

With the rampant Hyksos barbarians from the distant east continuing to advance, crushing armies in their wake and seeming to be unstoppable, times are desperate in Egypt but, throughout the conflict, a brave resistance fights on under the great Taita, a slave who has risen far beyond his ranks to become the Pharaoh’s powerful mage and counsellor.

Time and again Taita has sent out his agents to seek out valuable information that would turn the tide of battle but every time his spies have failed. But now Piay, entrusted into Taita’s care by his parents at the age of just five, has been trained to become a great spy, unmatched by any other, and he is determined to prove his worth.

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Convinced that this is his moment, and that glory awaits him, Piay is accompanied by his own slave and former soldier Hannu whose principal job seems to be stopping his master’s over-confidence letting his head swell to bursting point.

Together, Piay, Hannu and their soldiers embark on a dangerous mission to the north – to Mycenae and through the heart of Hyksos land and across the great sea to find allies – and along the way discover the unexpected warrior skills of beautiful Nubian slave girl Myssa who would ‘rather die than be cowed.’

As the situation becomes increasingly precarious, and the fate of the kingdom is hanging in the balance, can Piay succeed in his quest, or will this mean the end of the glory that is Egypt once and for all?

Gritty, gripping, and with a rich vein of dark humour – thanks in no small part to the cynical worldliness of fearless warrior Hannu and the defiant and irrepressible Myssa – Titans of War is a breathless journey through fascinating landscapes, ancient cultures and superbly choreographed action sequences.

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And as always in a Smith novel, the danger-packed adventures are played out by a cast of characters that has been exquisitely imagined, with their back stories informing their life in the present, and their interactions and development an integral part of the thrill of the chase.

Expect perfect pacing, plenty of intriguing twists and turns, a plotline soaked in blood, deceit, revenge and slaughter, and an emotional atmosphere that fluctuates round boiling point, and you have an Egyptian odyssey with an unmissable Wilbur Smith flavour!

(Zaffre, hardback, £20)

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