If you read my September recap, you’ll know that I briefly had the urge to do a chapter-by-chapter analysis of Recreated by Colleen Houck, before I decided against that for a number of reasons, my most prominent being that it was a sequel and I had barely reviewed Reawakened (let’s face it, listing the reasons why it’s terrible, while accurate, isn’t a proper review). So, in order to get to that later, I come to you today with the first post in my series of chapter by chapter analysis of Reawakened, because I seem to be fond of making myself suffer (maybe I should look into that…).
When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.
And she really can’t imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.
But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.
From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.
Disclaimer: Bear with me with this one because, while I’ve read quite a few of these, I’ve never done it myself so it might take a bit of time before I’m comfortable with a certain style.
So, off we go!
Once you open the book, the very first thing you see is an epigraph with a genuine ancient egyptian love poem (can you tell I doubted it? Because I did, what with this being Houck and all) before moving on to the prologue. While it isn’t indicated that this is a prologue, I assume it is because a) the entire thing is in italics (which was a bit of an eyesore), and b) it’s set in Ancient Egypt, about 3000 years before the time the actual plot takes place (I’m assuming all the egyptian scenes belong to the New Kingdom but I could be wrong. It’s not specified).
The prologue opens up in Itjtawy where King Heru, King Khalfani and King Nassor (the latter being of Asyut and Waset respectively), have gathered to come up with a way to combat the drought, which involves appeasing the patron god of all three cities, Seth. Through a massive info-dump, we learn that, before turning to Seth, each city had its own patron deities which were Anubis for Asyut, Khonsu for Waset, and Amun-Ra and Horus for Itjtawy.
Now, it’s been years since I’ve cracked open an Egyptian history book but already I’m sensing problems with the timeline and accuracy:
- Itjtawy, Asyut, and Waset (or Thebes), while important cities, never had kings.
- In fact, as far as I can tell, the only time Egypt ever had kings/queens was during the Hellenistic period, but, even then, the rulers still styled themselves Pharaohs of Egypt while being Kings/Queens of Alexandria (which was its own city-state)
- Amun-Ra, the god previously worshipped by Heru’s people, only came into being during the New Kingdom (being two separate gods before: Amun and Ra) and was worshipped in Thebes/Waset, while Itjtawy was only used during the Middle Kingdom
- Horus isn’t Amun-Ra’s son. In any version of the myth. I don’t even know where Houck found that but it couldn’t be more wrong. If anything, as Osiris’ son/brother (depending on the myth) he’d be Ra’s great/great-great grandson. I get it, you tried, but 5m on google told me you failed.
And to think that I’ve barely scratched the surface here…
Moving on, apparently Seth’s asking for a human sacrifice ( which our soon-to-be beloved mummy prince is all for) in order to allow the kingdoms to prosper, so Heru thought to put the decision up to the people. Do you see the two (okay, three) problems with that statement?
- Egyptians didn’t practice human sacrifice, the closest they come to that is having the slaves entombed with their masters (upon the latter’s death). The idea that sacrificing three young men of royal blood to a god would appease him would’ve probably been shut down fairly quickly back then. But, okay, this is fantasy, I suppose Houck can somewhat change the narrative.
- He’s awfully democratic for a ruler who’s supposed to be pretty much a deity in himself. Just putting that out there.
- Do I nitpick? Okay, I’ll go ahead a nitpick at this. Seth demanding a human sacrifice is just absurd. Before I get into that, here’s some backstory: Seth, god of Chaos amongst other things, backstabbed his brother Osiris early on who went on to become the ruler of the Afterlife. Now, humans, when they die, go to the Afterlife while gods can’t, so Seth wouldn’t be able to keep servants there (and he probably doesn’t want to either what with all that backstabbing business).
As for the technical aspects of the prologue, let’s see how it does against this handy list of things you shouldn’t do in a prologue
Is the prologue a massive info-dump? Yes, yes it is. The last book with this much info-dumping that I read was Snow Like Ashes, which has been criticised for that and promptly fixed it in the next book.
- Could the prologue be discarded without affecting the main story? For the most part. There’s some information that’s useful but it could’ve been sprinkled throughout instead of being condensed into a few pages.
- Does the prologue serve as a hook for the reader? No, and good thing too because that’s what the first chapter is supposed to do.
- Is the prologue overly long? Nope, but it is very dense.
- Is the prologue über-condensed world-building? Y-E-S
- Is it there solely to set the mood? Again, this question could go either way. I don’t think it really set the mood for the story because there’s a big difference between it and Chapter 1.
And to think that this prologue is only 4 pages long! Next up, we’ll get our first introduction to our protagonist, always a pleasant experience…