Friday, May 15, 2015

Review: Khai of Khem

Finished Khai of Khem, by Brian Lumley.

This is one of Lumley's better novels - not that that's saying much. It's sword and sorcery based on Lumley's take on Ancient Aliens: Khai is the (oddly blond and blue-eyed) son of the chief architect of the evil Pharaoh, who (naturally) ends up fleeing Egypt after his family is horribly murdered, romances the Princess of Kush, and ends up leading an army to defeat the evil Pharaoh - who, by the way, is the descendant of human-alien hybrids. There's more then a little bit of "white guy saving the minorities" here, but it was written in 1980, and by the standards of the time it's not bad at all.

My real problems with the book are: first of all, Lumley's writing style. He does better in this book then he does in, say, his Dreamlands or Titus Crow series - a lot better - but he's still not very good. At its best it's pure mental candyfloss, but I kept pausing to roll my eyes. Second, the setting is completely unexploited; we might as well be in the land of Generica for all the use Lumley makes of ancient Egypt. Third, there's a totally unnecessary time travel plot sandwiched in for no apparent reason. Fourth, the completely unnecessary graphic depiction of gang rape and other sexual tortures, which serve no purpose except to underline who evil and perverted the Pharaoh is.

I struggled with what score to assign this. I was deeply tempted to give it 2/5 on the basis of the rape scenes, but there are only three of them in the whole book, and it seemed unfair to take points away on that basis. In the end, I'm going with a low 3/5 stars.

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