A few weeks ago, I read The Cat of Bubastes by G.A. Henty. The story is mostly set in Egypt, about forty-five years before the Israelites leave Egypt. The main character is a boy named Amuba, who is prince of the Rebu, a tribe somewhere just south of the Caspian Sea.
The book opens with the Rebu preparing to battle the Egyptians, who are trying to expand their empire. When his father is killed in battle, Amuba finds himself as king of a tribe under siege. The Egyptians triumph, and send most of their army back to Egypt with some slaves, among whom are Amuba, and his faithful charioteer, Jethro. When they reach Egypt, Jethro and Amuba are given to a man named Ameres, who is the high priest of Osiris. Ameres is a kind master, and the two slaves enjoy their new home, forming friendships with their master’s son and daughter, Chebron and Mysa.
One day, Chebron and Amuba go to hunt a hawk that has been killing some of the pet ducks. Upon seeing it, both boys shoot their arrows. Amuba’s finds its mark, bringing down the hawk. Chebron’s arrow strikes a twig and flies wide, killing the sacred cat of Bubastes. The punishment for such a crime is death.
Fleeing their pursuers, they escape and make their way back to the Rebu land. Through a long series of events, they manage to overthrow the Egyptians, and make Amuba king once again.
When I started reading The Cat of Bubastes, something that surprised me was how favorably the Egyptians were portrayed. After all, that’s not exactly what you expect in a book where the main character is enslaved to them. One other thing I think is worth mentioning would be the lack of emotion and character development. You never really get to “hear” the characters’ thoughts, so it is rather hard to sympathize with the main characters. In addition, the story is quite predictable, having no plot twists or evident character development.
After all that, you’re probably expecting me to say I hated it. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t. The story moved at a nice pace, despite having many descriptions of Egyptians’ daily life. Though not my favorite book ever, it was a nice story with a good ending.