Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton

Setting: Ancient Egypt, mainly in and around Thebes, c.1590 B.C. during the reigns of Pharoah Sekenenre III and his son Pharoah Kamose. Also near the end of the Hyksos occupation of Lower Egypt.

Main Character: Rahotep, younger son of Ptahhotep, viceroy of Nubia. Through his mother’s lineage, Rahotep is entitled to be called Nomarch (Duke) of the Hawk, but his duchy is overrun and has been for some time by the Hyksos invaders.

Themes: war, obedience to authority, rebellion, freedom. (Even if you don’t care for Ms. Norton’s science fiction/fantasy works, which are full of “witchy” worlds and themes, you may very well enjoy this book, which is straight historical fiction, good versus evil, morally impeccable.)

Minor Details that I noticed:
There are a lot of battles and descriptions of battles. Boys might enjoy that aspect of the book more than girls.

Rahotep is a hero. He’s the younger brother, forced to flee from his older brother who is out to get him. So, he’s the underdog who makes good at Pharoah’s court. That sort of plot and protagonist still works for me.

Very minor as far as the story is concerned, but I noticed how much respect and worship the Egyptians accorded their Pharoahs who were thought to be gods, sons of Re, the Sun God. We would be ashamed, and misunderstood, if those ancient Egyptians saw what little respect we Christians sometimes give to the God of the Universe and his Son, Jesus.

. . . by custom he did not raise his eyes to the man on the improvised throne. . . .

Rahotep went down on his knees. ‘Life! Health! Prosperity! May the Son of Re live forever! I am one unworthy of his notice! Let the Son of Re know that this one is less than the dust on his sandals . . .’

Rahotep advanced to put his lip to the Pharoah’s sandal strap.”

Author: Andre Norton is mainly famous for her science fiction titles, but she also wrote historical fiction. Shadow Hawk was published in 1960.

During those early days, agents were really unknown. So, when I was ready to submit my first novel, I got an alphabetized list of publishers and sent it to the first name on the list, and they accepted it.”

Can you authors believe that kind of sucess?

I was children’s librarian at the Cleveland Public Library for over twenty years, from 1930-1951. Each month the librarians would receive a book to review. If there was some objection to the book, and we still wanted it, we would have an opportunity to defend it. I remember getting The Hobbit and nobody had heard of Tolkien, so I had to argue for it like mad.”

I always say that I read and loved Tolkien before Tolkien was cool, but I don’t have as good a story as Ms. Norton.

A lot of children’s stories these days, while being well written, are downbeat. They have no hope, and the protagonist is someone that you wouldn’t like, and they are no better off at the end of the story than they were at the beginning. This is a new format, and it’s getting in to stories in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fields.”

Ah, someone else is concerned with that pesky “sense of hope” again. I must say that I agree with Ms. Norton and decry the loss of hope in children’s books.

Quotations are from a 1996 interview here at Ms. Norton’s excellent website. Andre Norton died in 2005.

2 thoughts on “Shadow Hawk by Andre Norton

  1. UMM.. we have to read this book fro school my teacher said there are some wrong things in this book…

  2. Bryan

    Uh do i have to join this site to make my own summary of the book that people can read?

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