Yuri returns to Ugarit along with the news that Nefertiti, the queen dowager of Egypt, has fallen from power. Kail is relieved that the dire threat posed by the covert communications between Nefertiti and Nakia is now over, but feels certain this development will only fuel the war between the Hittite Empire and Egypt. What neither he nor anyone else on either side of the conflict realizes is how hot things are actually going to get!
With Egypt’s internal problems solved, they turn their attention back to the Hittite empire. Kail is well aware of this and moves to face their challenge head on. But all the fighting doesn’t slow down the behind the scenes intrigue, as the fruits of Yuri’s labors in Egypt are endangered from the inside.
This was another fantastic volume of historical drama. Picking up where volume 22 left off, we see why this title has a mature rating, but it’s done tastefully, and full of emotion. Then it’s off to battle as the Egyptian army, led by Ramses and the pharaoh himself, Horemheb, who intend to take back Byblos. Kail calls on the allies of the Hittites to join the battle at a plateau north of Byblos, a place of many battles between Egypt and the Hittites in the past.
The battle scenes are handled beautifully, showing the armies battling as the background to the main conflict between Ramses and Kail. Evenly matched in manpower and abilities, the battle will come down to luck. The drama is built up well, as both leaders command their armies, shown on opposing pages. It’s almost cinematically choreographed, which is one reasn why I enjoy this series so much now. It’s Kail who gets lucky in the end, as Ramses is removed from command as Horemheb takes over what he thinks will be victory. Ramses and Kail will have to wait another day for their head to head match.
And this battle will come, as this volume reveals Kail’s lofty hopes to being pease to the Hittite empire. He isn’t battle for sheer conquest and land. He is fighting Egypt to get them to enter into a peace treaty. He wishes to create an ideal empire that will bring peace and stability to the region. He is striving for the “war to end all wars”, and hopes this one with Egypt will be it. Yuri has her doubts, know the future as she does, but her love for Kail gives her the faith to believe in him.
Back at the palace, a battle of a different sort is being waged. The letter from Nakia to Nefertiti is in danger of discovery before it can be used against Nakia. A priest who works for Nakia enchants one of the women who works in the palace to find and, if necessary, destroy anything that may threaten Nakia. Through this we learn not all battles are on the field, and anyone can help to win them.
Red River continues it’s gripping historical action and stunning art. The pacing is well done, starting with the romantic interlude, and then building up the tension with the palace scenes to the battle scenes. The cinematic layout makes the battles interesting and keeps the tension going until the inevitable outcome at the end. Not inevitable because the protagonists must win, but because pride and greed overtake logic and good sense, but that is a lesson in human nature.