House of Illusions
Thu, a peasant girl from the village of Aswat possesses both beauty and wisdom and hence is chosen and trained at court. Her mentor cultivates her special talents, winning her a post in Pharaoh Ramses' harem. She rises in favor only to be betrayed in a court intrigue that threatens her life. Pharaoh banishes her to serve the priests at the temple of Wepwawet. In the courses of her exile, Thu records her story of terrible injustice in a manuscript dreaming of retribution.
"Houses of Illusions" opens on Gedge's vividly recreated Egypt, sixteen years after Thu's banishment. Egyptian soldiers retuning from missions down the Nile would occasionally pause in the village of Aswat to pray to the god of war, Wepwawet. The stories of the mad woman and her desperate please to have her manuscript delivered to Pharaoh are well known to them all.
Kamen, a junior officer from Pharaoh's palace guard, is forced to stay a night in the dreaded village of Aswat. Taking pity on Thu, he agrees to deliver her beautifully bound manuscript to Pharaoh. He errs, however, in failing to follow her exact instructions, thus setting in motion a fateful chain of events that ends in a threat to lives of many, including his own.
Unexpectedly, through the actions of Kamen, Thu finds herself in the position to vindicate herself. Her path is particularly precarious given the intricacies of Egyptian court life and the political maneuvering of those surrounding Pharaoh.