Hannu, a father himself, will discover that saving his son, Paneb, and all of the others demands ritual sacrifice—and an end to the abuse of the Hebrews. Convincing Pharoah to allow this will prove a tall order, one of many epochal challenges facing the vizier in Shaw’s crisp, swift telling of key passages of Exodus. Hannu’s perspective adds fresh drama and dimension to this familiar—and always mysterious—tale, as Shaw dramatizes the court politics and the harrowing plagues of the Old Testament God but also the interior drama of seeing one’s beliefs challenged by new evidence.
The Plagues of Pharaoh is a quick, inviting read, opening with a dramatic scene of Moses confronting Pharaoh and surging on from there, paying welcome attention to ancient Egyptians’ understanding of the world. Hannu’s first real, up-close encounter with the Hebrews and their beliefs is a standout scene, but Shaw’s interest in cultural clashes and the dawn of monotheism never slows down the narrative, which speeds ahead like the novel’s chariots toward an apocalyptic chase and an angry sea.
Takeaway: This brisk retelling of the plagues of Egypt imagines a vizier who strives to make Pharoah see reason.
Great for fans of: Sholem Asch’s Moses, Howard Fast’s Moses.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A