The best books about ancient Egypt and the Ptolemaic dynasty

Why am I passionate about this?

Since 7th grade, I’ve been reading and researching about ancient civilizations like Greece, the Mayans, Incans, and of course, Egypt, yet I never thought I’d write a book, much less a trilogy set thousands of years ago. While researching rebellions for another novel, I found the Great Egyptian Revolt of 200 BCE, as well as Ankhmakis’s story. Given my lifelong love of ancient mythologies, I spent the next two years collecting books about ancient Egypt. These books are but a small sampling I collected during that time in my life, and I’m so glad to share them with you.

I wrote...

Origins: Song of the King's Heart

By Nicole Sallak Anderson,

Book cover of Origins: Song of the King's Heart

What is my book about?

In the year 205 B.C., after centuries of Persian and Macedonian occupation, a rebel king rises from the south to take ancient Egypt back into native hands. He will battle the Ptolemy line for twenty years, and rule eighty percent of Egypt, yet in the end, history will never mention his name.

This is the lost story of Lord Ankhwenefer, known to the Greeks as Chaonnophris the Rebel—the last true native Egyptian Pharaoh, though no monuments stand in his name. Ptolemy V Epiphanes spent years destroying all evidence of the Rebel King’s rule, etching his name from every gleaming surface and burning his records under the blazing desert sun. The brilliance and heartache of his rebellion weave a tale that history has forgotten. Until now.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of A God Against the Gods

Nicole Sallak Anderson Why did I love this book?

When I first pitched my book to my agent, he recommended I read this novel, as it was his favorite novel written about ancient Egypt.

I took his advice and was immediately drawn into Ake Akhenaten's story. I’ve long been fascinated by this particular Pharaoh for many reasons, but mostly because he dared to challenge the priestly class.

This is a novel that sweeps you right into the hot sands of his city and makes you long to have been there, in the court, as he struggled to bring his god, Aten, to his people.

By Allen Drury,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A God Against the Gods as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The sweeping chronicle of a great and tragic pharaoh who lost his throne for the love of a God.

In the glory of ancient Egypt, an epic of a royal family divided, bloody power ploys, and religious wars that nearly tore apart one of the greatest empires in human history.

AKHENATEN: The dream-filled King of Egypt, who dared to challenge the ancient order of his people and dethrone the jealous deities of his land for the glory of one almighty God.

NEFERTITI: The most beautiful woman in the world, bred from birth to be the Pharaoh’s devoted lover—and to follow…

Book cover of Return to Thebes

Nicole Sallak Anderson Why did I love this book?

If you read A God Against the Gods, you have to read Return to Thebes.

For my part, the descriptions of Luxor and Thebes were key to writing my book, but I also needed to know how this dynasty ended. Besides, finally King Tut has his say.

Moreover, I loved the introduction of Seti and his son, for the dynasty they created after Tut’s fall is one that still captures the imagination of Egyptologists and fans alike.

By Allen Drury,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Return to Thebes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

Book cover of Dividing the Spoils: The War for Alexander the Great's Empire

Nicole Sallak Anderson Why did I love this book?

The forty years after Alexander the Great’s death are rarely studied in history class, yet key to understanding the Ptolemaic rule in Egypt that followed.

Few books have ever covered the warfare waged among his generals as they fought one another for his empire, each one hoping to be the next Alexander, and each falling short. Instead of creating an empire, Alexander’s generals created a world of war, using the native populations of Syria, Indo-Kush, Egypt, and more as fodder in their quest to become Emperor.

Dividing the Spoils is an action-packed read, even if it is nonfiction. I couldn’t put it down.

By Robin Waterfield,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dividing the Spoils as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Alexander the Great conquered an enormous empire--stretching from Greece to the Indian subcontinent--and his death triggered forty bloody years of world-changing events. These were years filled with high adventure, intrigue, passion, assassinations, dynastic marriages, treachery, shifting alliances, and mass slaughter on battlefield after battlefield. And while the men fought on the field, the women, such as Alexander's mother Olympias, schemed from their palaces and pavilions.

Dividing the Spoils serves up a fast-paced narrative that captures this turbulent time as it revives the memory of the Successors of Alexander and their great contest for his empire. The Successors, Robin Waterfield shows,…

Book cover of The Quest For Hermes Trismegistus: From Ancient Egypt to the Modern World

Nicole Sallak Anderson Why did I love this book?

I truly love most of what Gary Lachman writes. The former bassist for Blondie turned esoteric writer has covered all of the occult sciences across the ages.

In order to create a believable world in my novel, I had to bring the religious life, customs, and rituals not only of the regular people, but also for the royals and the priestly class.

In the end, my book is about their magic and The Quest for Hermes Trismegistus did not disappoint. It set my imagination within the temple, taught me of Thoth, one of their eldest cults, and from there, writing about their world became possible.

By Gary Lachman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Quest For Hermes Trismegistus as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the sands of Alexandria via the Renaissance palaces of the Medicis, to our own times, this spiritual adventure story traces the profound influence of Hermes Trismegistus -- the 'thrice-great one', as he was often called -- on the western mind. For centuries his name ranked among the most illustrious of the ancient world.

Considered by some a contemporary of Moses and a forerunner of Christ, this almost mythical figure arose in fourth century BC Alexandria, from a fusion of the Egyptian god Thoth and the Greek god Hermes. Master of magic, writing, science, and philosophy, Hermes was thought to…

Book cover of The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt

Nicole Sallak Anderson Why did I love this book?

While I didn’t find nearly enough about the Great Egyptian Revolt of 200 BCE or Ankhmakis’s plight in this book, it was an excellent resource for creating the day-to-day life of ancient Egypt.

From house building to boat designs to farming on the river, as well as the rise and fall of the various dynasties and their idiosyncrasies, Wilkinson’s book is a must read for any Egyptophile such as myself. Without it, I don’t think I would have been able to have envisioned Ankhmakis’s world the way I have.

By Toby Wilkinson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a story studded with extraordinary achievements and historic moments, from the building of the pyramids and the conquest of Nubia, through Akhenaten's religious revolution, the power and beauty of Nefertiti, the glory of Tutankhamun's burial chamber, and the ruthlessness of Ramesses, to Alexander the Great's invasion, and Cleopatra's fatal entanglement with Rome.

As the world's first nation-state, the history of Ancient Egypt is above all the story of the attempt to unite a disparate realm and defend it against hostile forces from within and without. Combining grand narrative sweep with detailed knowledge of hieroglyphs and the iconography of…

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Book cover of Returning to Eden

Rebecca Hartt Author Of Rising From Ashes

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Why am I passionate about this?

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What is my book about?

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A dead man stands on her doorstep.

When the Navy wrote off her MIA husband as dead, Eden came to terms with being a widow. But now, her Navy SEAL husband is staring her in the face. Eden knows she should be over-the-moon, but she isn’t.

Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has no recollection of their fractured marriage, no memory of Eden nor her fourteen-year-old daughter. Still, he feels a connection to both.

Unfit for active duty and assigned to therapy, Jonah knows he has work to do and relies on God, who sustained him during captivity, to heal his mind, body, and hopefully his family.

But as the memories lurking in his wife's haunted eyes and behind his daughter's uncertain smile begin to return to him, Jonah makes another discovery. There is treachery in the highest ranks of his Team, treachery that not only threatens him but places his new-found family in its crosshairs.

Returning to Eden

By Rebecca Hartt,

What is this book about?

Presumed Dead, Navy SEAL Returns Without Memory of His Ordeal in the Christian Romantic Suspense, Returning to Eden, by Rebecca Hartt

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Declared MIA a year prior, the Navy wrote him off as dead. Now, Eden's husband, Navy SEAL Jonah Mills has returned after three years to disrupt her tranquility. Diagnosed with PTSD and amnesia, he has no recollection of their marriage or their fourteen-year-old step-daughter. Still, Eden accepts her obligation to nurse Jonah back to health while secretly longing to regain her freedom, despite the…

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