a novel of Ancient Egypt
by Stephan Michael Loy
Isis. She is the air you breathe, the food you eat, the drip of water upon your parched tongue. She is the absolute expression and fount of life, more beautiful than the day, more vibrant than the sun on rippled waters, more desirable than sanity. She is also besieged, befouled, betrayed.
And she is very, very angry.
Isis Wept is an epic tale of love and loss, one of the greatest love stories, war stories, and horror stories mankind has ever conceived. It is retold here with energy, grit, and darkness that amplifies the qualities that have brought this story through five thousand years of transient civilizations.
ISIS WEPT, like its namesake, is a tantalizing force of nature.
THE SHORT OF IT:
Egypt, 8000 years ago. The gods walk among men as titans, powerful beings with passions that move mountains, fix stars in the heavens, and master the forces of life and death. Within this world, the evil god Set betrays and murders his brother Osiris, king of respected Abydos. Set takes all that Osiris once had, including the queen, Isis, the goddess of life and beauty. Isis escapes Set and bends her powers toward bringing her love back from death. In the course of this quest, kingdoms fall, armies clash, and the balance of power between gods and men is altered forever.
THE LONG OF IT:
In the kingdom of Abydos in ancient Egypt, life cannot get any better than it is. The realm is at peace, the people prosper, and justice is abundant. Though the rest of the world subsists in a prehistoric stone age, the Abydans enjoy advanced irrigation techniques, varied crops, and their ceremonial guardsmen carry metal swords. All this is due to the efforts of the king, Osiris, the god of civilization and order. His wife, too, blesses the people, for she is Isis, goddess of love, life and beauty, the most desirable goddess in the pantheon of Ra. Isis and Osiris love each other with unmatched passion. They are one in their world.
But not all is grand in the paragon of states. Set, king of desolate Abu Simbel and god of chaos and the deep desert, boils in jealousy for all Osiris has. Though he is brother to the king, he plots to murder Osiris, steal his kingdom, and work out his pleasures with the widowed queen.
No one can stop him. When the treachery comes, the ceremonial guard of Osiris, captained by Qebera, a simple but loyal farmer, is decimated and scattered. The priests of Abydos are murdered and beheaded. Only Isis keeps her wits in the terror that follows. As the city burns, as she mourns her husband and fears for her future, Isis ensures that the ensigns of kingship are smuggled out of Abydos. Without them, Set cannot rule with legitimacy.
But more escapes Set than a few trinkets of the gods. The Wadjit Eye of Ra, the most powerful ensign of the city, is entrusted to Qebera, who will be hunted for years for its sake. Set cannot even trammel the spirit of his new human subjects. Though murdered and starved by him and his Setim thugs, the people show backbone the god of deserts did not know they had. They rescue Isis and rise up against their tormenter in guerrilla war.
Freed by the rebels, Isis devotes her life and considerable power to finding the lost body of her husband, then bringing it back from the dead.
ISIS WEPT explores questions of who we are as humans and how we interact with the forces of nature around us. The gods are nature. Though they exhibit enormous power, they are unable to use that power except in ways consistent with their natures. Men, on the other hand, can make themselves, and they do so with vengeance. Armies clash in the conflict between Set and Isis. Kingdoms fall. But man continues, man adapts, man learns that he can govern nature even as nature governs him.
The characters of ISIS WEPT represent two differing aspects of sentience. The mortal characters demonstrate the power of choice, of man's ability to choose who he is, what he will do, and why he will do it. The gods are raw, simplistic power. Strong as they are, they are trapped by the natures that surrounded their births. They cannot change, or even be aware that they should consider change. In this way, they are weaker than man.
The humans of ISIS WEPT are the true catalysts of the story. Since the gods are restricted to behaving according to their gross natures, conflict among the gods would likely continue unabated for centuries or eons. There would be no party capable of figuring a way out of such problems. Humans, by their nature independent and creative, are the facility by which the gods are nudged toward resolution. The story also works on the level that humans are, with Set's instigation, moving toward supplanting the gods altogether. In any event, it is through the human characters that the reader feels the terror, the pain, and the joy of this ancient world.
He begins the story as Osiris's captain of the guard. Just as the immortal ruler requires bureaucrats to run his government and priests to run his religion, he needs all the trappings any other civilized king might display. On the other hand, what do the guards guard? If anything, their god protects them. So Qebera's position is more pageantry than practical. He is really a simple farmer, having never killed or otherwise harmed a man in his life. This is not the person you want in charge when the kingdom is invaded and falls down around your ears.
But Qebera grows into the role.
She is Qebera's wife, a salt-of-the-earth farm girl who runs their tiny homestead while Qebera is off gallivanting about with his Lord Osiris. Sanni is level-headed, resourceful, and unbreakable. She actually is the one you want in charge when the kingdom falls down around you.
But she isn't in charge. This is 8000 years ago, and Sanni is a woman.
This young man is the son of Sanni and Qebera. A farmer more than his father is, Hordedev is headed toward a banal, commonplace life when tragedy befalls his world. Because of Set's treason, Hordedev, like many young men like him, is forced into a role he never imagined for himself, that of insurgent against the gods.
The gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt were, the the Egyptians, both reality and fiction. The Egyptians created gods for appropriate occasions, did so quite readily and consciously, and still managed to believe that their own fictional creations were alive and imbued with history and power. In this way, the ancient Egyptians were very different from us. They had the ability to believe two diametrically opposed ideas at the same time, without conflict. We, on the other hand, recognize conflict and seek equilibrium in the denial of one idea or the other.
Most of the Egyptian gods were developed as a means to personify forces of nature. Because of this, I characterize the immortals as such, beings who cannot deviate from the characteristics of their power. With this in mind, Set is not inherently evil. As a god of chaos and the wild, destructive nature of the desert, he simply can't help himself when he goes into a tantrum. Likewise, his brother Osiris is no saint when he pulls Man up from barbarity. He's just following his urges, which are neither good nor evil, just there. In ISIS WEPT, only mankind has the ability to choose how it will behave, mankind and the as yet unformed Nephthys.
Isis is the goddess of love, beauty, fertility, and life. She is the most beautiful of all the immortals, so much so that one sight of her will drive men mad. Interestingly, she and Nephthys are identical twins, yet Nephthys, absent Isis's power, is not seen as such a supernatural beauty. In fact, no one is moved Nephthys's beauty at all.
Some readers become frustrated that Isis does not defend herself when Set violates her after killing her husband. The problem is that defense, fighting, conniving, etc. are not within Isis's nature. Her power is one that gives, not one that takes away. Ironic considering what happens when she finds herself under constant attack.
Osiris is the god of civilization, order, and government. He builds communities among the humans. Because of this, and because he is the husband of Isis, he is much beloved and worshipped as a ruler. His base is Abydos, but his influence spreads far along the Nile to many cities that count themselves within his confederation. This isn't exactly democracy, but Osiris rules by delegation, so humans have much responsibility within his realm. Naturally, this sort of thing incenses his brother Set, who is the very personification of chaos. That conflict is the root of ISIS WEPT.
Set is a monster. This might be expected of a god personifying just about every bad thing that could happen to you. He is chaos, storms, and the violence of the uninhabitable deep desert. He brings down lightning and forms living horrors from the sand at his feet. He hates his brother Osiris for his care of the humans and his penchant toward order. He is jealous because the people love Osiris, the more gentle god, and because Osiris claims the love of Isis, the most desirable being in the universe. Set sits in his dead, dusty, brooding fortress at Abu Simbel, feared and avoided by all. It was only a matter of time before he cracked and went after all that Osiris had built. And he goes after it not to own it, but to destroy it.
Nephthys is perhaps the most interesting of the immortals from a human perspective. She is most like us. At the opening of ISIS WEPT, she has not yet come into her power, or at least has not yet recognized it. She is a frightened, cowed, pitiable creature, married to Set and always shown up by her sister Isis. Nephthys believes she is so worthless, so insignificant, that she is fading from the universe. Because of this, it is perhaps understandable that she hatches and executes a monstrous plan to make herself a wonder in the world. Though her actions are reprehensible, it should not be lost that it is those actions that go a long way toward saving the day at the end of this book.
Thoth is the judge of the gods, a thinker, a scholar, second only to Ra in the pantheon of Egypt. He commands the night while Ra sleeps in the Land of the Dead. He prefers to settle disputes among the gods through discussion, bargaining, and legal proceedings, but he can, when all else fails, bring down the moon from orbit, causing major destruction in the form of earthquakes and rock falls. As you might imagine, such enormous power has only limited use, since Thoth would not wish to destroy the world in order to save it.
HATHOR (HAY-thor) or (HAH-thor)
Hathor is curious in that she has such an amorphous role in the pantheon. In some parts of Egypt, she was a duplicate of Isis. In fact, since she is described as older than Isis, probably the reverse is more true. But in other areas, she was seen as, though a goddess of life, a more twisted version of that role. Isis is goddess of love while Hathor is goddess of lust. Isis is the patron goddess of pregnant women while Hathor is the goddess of whores. She's the older, dirty, hedonistic, unscrupulous answer to Isis's purity. She also has the distinction of once having almost wiped mankind from the face of the earth, so she deserves respect.
(at least within the framework of this story)
Hapi (HOP-ee) is the god of the Nile. He is often shown as a waterspout formed into the shape of a man, but with pedulous female breasts. Hapi's role is pivotal in both the betrayal of Osiris and the vindication of his legacy.
Ra is the creator-god, the father of all gods. Humans are the tears of the creator. Ra sees all and is omnipotent, which makes one wonder why he allows Set and Hathor to cause so much trouble and wreak so much destruction. But Ra has a plan, he always does, and he doesn't necessarily tell anyone what it is.
Geb is the god of the earth, and the father of Isis, Osiris, Set and Nethphys.
Nut is the goddess of the heavens, a startling figure of inky blue festooned with the stars. She is the mother of the four sibling immortals.
It has been much mentioned that the relationships between Osiris, Isis, Nephthys and Set are problematic, that, these gods being siblings, their association is often one of incest. This is what it is. We have to assume that the incestuous goings-on between these four do not present the same moral or biological problems as they might for mere humans. In a sense, it seems plausible that these four would need to be siblings, as their powers are so closely related and intertwined. Also, consider that they are gods, therefore royalty, and it was not unusual at the time these gods were conceived for royalty to marry within its own family.
Click the PDF files below to enjoy two chapters of excerpts from ISIS WEPT. These introduce the basic conflict and the primary characters. Though there are monsters and combat and the machinations of gods, there are no serious spoilers in these selections. You will need a PDF reader such as Microsoft Word, Pages, or Adobe Acrobat Reader to view these files. You can download Acrobat Reader here, for free.
Introduces the conflict between Osiris and Set, demonstrates the great love between Osiris and Isis, and the parallel love of Qebera the guardsman and his farmer wife Sanni.
Nothing speaks more to the worth of a book than the acclamations of those who’ve read it. Here are some of the comments offered by readers after their experience with ISIS WEPT.
This story evokes a lot of different emotions from the reader; everything from hope to fear or rage to sympathy. This is one of those rare gems that really take you ina journey. The characters are written in a way that you concern yourself with everyones well being and you hope that for their sake everything turns out in a way that benefits them. I loved everything about this story- the good and the bad!
I have read quite a few books on ancient Egypt,80 to date since I got my kindle fire in December 2012 ,by far this is best written and most interesting. It gave me a better insight on the others I read. Learning more about the lives of the gods and their feelings towards humans makes me wonder how humans ever worshipped them. I definitely give this one a 5 STAR rating.
Isis Wept is my favorite book by Stephan Michael Loy. The writer does such an excellent job portraying the myths as a human experience. Yet, at the same time, the gods are a personification of ideals that go beyond what we as humans can achieve.
If you have any interest in ancient cultures, religion, mythology, or Egyptology, you will love this book. If you liked American Gods or Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, you will like this book.
Epic is a word that gets tossed around somewhat recklessly these days. Applied to the relatively tame, mundane, and soon-to-be-forgotten, the word itself has been diminished in, well, its epic-ness. However, Stephan Loy's Isis Wept is not only worthy of, but restores the grandeur of the word in every sense. In this beautifully written saga, the Gods are real. They walk among the ancient world with the supremacy of supermen and wonder women, yet suffer the same all-too-human failings as their human subjects. With Isis Wept, Loy has once again proven himself a master storyteller who is not afraid to smash the boundaries of style or genre. And that is something truly epic.
I had a chance to read this novel in rough draft form awhile ago. When I had heard Steve was self publishing his works the first question I asked him was `Where is Isis Wept?`
The story is, in my opinion, like American Gods. Only in ancient egypt. You get to see the gods being gods and the mortal men and women interacting with the world. This is perhaps my favorite story by this author and I`m happy to see it in digital format.
I would recommend a read if you are into mythology, love or revenge stories.
Isis Wept is a story of gods and mortals. The gods possess many powers over the very nature of the world around them, and humans have benefited under the benevolent reign of Osiris and Isis, but that reign is about to come to an end.
This may be a story about gods, but even more powerful than that, this is a story about humanity. The gods command the tale, but the most reliable, steady thread woven through this tapestry is Qebera, a mortal man from Osiris's honor guard, who is charged with an important task as the reign of Osiris is tested by his brother Set's treachery.
This is such an exciting, intricate story, with wonderful characters. Also, the author clearly spent a great deal of time researching ancient Egypt in order to bring us into as realistic a setting as possible. Isis Wept is for any fan of mythology or fantasy who has a taste for a darkly told tale.
ISIS WEPT is a reimagining of the myth of the death of Osiris. Stephan Loy's story takes us back to pre-dynastic Egypt when the gods lived on the Nile and mingled with their human followers. The main conflict revolves around the capricious storm-god Set's plan to eliminate his brother Osiris and take over his lands and possess Osiris's wife, Isis. However, it's more than just a tale of gods. It's a tale about us mortals and how we find meaning in our lives in the midst of life's chaos.
Loy's characters--both mortal and divine--are a treat. And as the story reached its climax, so did this reader's emotional connection with the world Loy evoked, and with his characters. Loy's story will appeal to anyone who has lost a loved one, or who has wondered about their place and purpose in life, and with anyone who just enjoys a good story about the world as it maybe have been thousands of years ago.
Set makes his move to steal Osiris’s kingdom and his wife. Fantasy combat between the armed forces of Set and the guards of Osiris, and between the guards and Set himself. Isis seeks to thwart Set’s coup by spiriting away the ensigns of kingship, without which Set cannot claim legitimate rule.