Welcome to my stop on the Son of Set tour! Son of Set is an Upper YA fantasy. Click the tour banner for the full schedule of interviews, guest posts and more!
*Disclaimer: I am not an Egyptologist. I am not a linguist. I’m not even a historian. But I am an author and scientist, and I do take my research very seriously.*
To bring certain characters and written texts to life, authors have to use language, communication, and slang. And I’m not just talking about American English vs British English. I’ve seen French, German, even Latin used in many YA novels. For Daughter of Isis and Son of Set, the language that brings Seth’s spells and Isis’s clues to life is Re-en-Kam: the speech of Egypt.
But here’s the problem: much like the locket which Natti is attempting to translate, Re-en-Kam is a puzzle in itself to figure out. No, really. It’s almost like a word scramble compared to the English language. For example, it’s the verb that comes first, not the noun. So instead of saying “I love you” it would be more like “Love I you.” Also, one word in Re-en-Kam may translate into several very different words in English. Plus, there’s a difference in reference, gender, and gender plural.
On top of it all, Re-en-Kam has been a dead language for thousands of years! The only thing available is the hieroglyphics left behind in the tombs and temples of Egypt, and unfortunately, hieroglyphs don’t include many of the vowels that would have been used in speech. So, really, no one actually knows what the language sounds like.
Of course, a few Egyptologists have speculated how the language might be vocalized, such as E. A. Wallis Budge, who wrote an entire dictionary of hieroglyphs. I particularly found his work useful in creating my spells and clues of the Descendants of Isis series along with a few other research books which I acknowledge.
However, once you understand, or get an idea, the language you wish to use, how do you portray what your character is saying?
Well, every author has their different style. For me, I prefer taking advantage of the multiple points of view in my series. If it were Natti alone, the reader would be hearing exactly what she would be hear, which would be the sound each word or sentence makes. But in Seth’s mind (being that Re-en-Kam is his first language 😉 ) the language is automatically translated. So from his point of view, the reader can get a direct translation of the conversation taking place in Re-en-Kam.
Again, I’m not claiming to be an expert, but this is an example of what challenges authors can face when writing. This is why I’m a firm believer in research. Without it, my Re-en-Kam wouldn’t sound half as impressive, and in my personal opinion, neither would the spells or clues I put together of my novel. It’s a lot of work, yes. But well worth it!
***Excerpt From Son of Set*** ***Warning: Excerpt May Contain Spoilers To First Novel*** Chapter 1
Seth wrung a blood-soaked hand towel until the fabric pinched the flesh of his aching palms. Droplets of Natti’s diluted blood trickled into the running water. When the cotton began to dry, he drowned it again and wrung it out even tighter. Yet, no matter how sore his hands were, the haunting bloodstains on the towel wouldn’t wash away. Exhausted and frustrated, he tossed the towel into the basin. He slammed the faucet off, leaned over the counter, and stared at his reflection. Dark circles and black kohl accented his turquoise eyes. Large, swollen bruises coated his lightly tanned skin, each screaming with the slightest movement. Dry blood encrusted his wrists. His back ached and his knees were coated with grime. Even so, his injuries carried little pain compared to the memories he was still trying to process: his own father, Sean, drawing Seth’s Glock 38 on him at the hospital; being chained down in Set’s Temple and listening to Natti’s screams while his father dosed her with synthetic scorpion venom; watching Sean enslave her essence; seeing the ceremonial dagger poised over her breast. Seth shoved his fingers through his copper hair, trying to force the images out of his mind. A soft moan, a harsh groan, and then a scream echoed from the next room. Seth’s overwhelmed system surged with adrenaline. He raced into the bedroom of the hotel room. Natti had her back pressed against the pillows and headboard as she manically swiped at the old, floral bedcover. She abruptly withdrew her hand with another scream and began to cower, her knees brought up to her chest. “I don’t know,” she bellowed. “I don’t know.” “Natti?” Seth rushed to her side. He stared at the bedcover, trying to determine who or what she was shouting at. Natti turned her glassy eyes to him with a gasp. She scrambled sideways, and Seth had to catch her before she fell over the edge of the king-sized bed. Her panicky screams transformed into desperate cries for help. Afraid someone would hear her, Seth quickly covered her mouth. She struggled against him for a brief moment before she finally went limp in his arms. Her silver-violet eyes were filled with fear. “Shh,” Seth cooed, trying to keep his own heart from leaping out of his chest. He stared into the eyes that had bewitched him on the first day they met. When she looked back at him, it was like she was gazing at a stranger. He swallowed a lump that formed in his throat and slowly raised his fingers from her lips. “I don’t know,” she whimpered. “I don’t know. I swear, I don’t know.” “Natti, it’s me,” Seth whispered, mentally begging the gods to help her. “It’s Seth. We met at school in mid-September. I rescued you at the festival. I helped you escape from the temple. Don’t you remember?” Her body tensed under his hold, and her gaze went wild while she scanned the room. “Oh God, please. . . . I don’t know.” “Natti.” She wasn’t paying any attention to him. Her eyes were beginning to dilate, and her body vibrated with fear. Seth finally called on his blessing from Set, his magical charm, to try to calm her, but her mind was too wired and her veins throbbed under his touch. She suddenly screeched and thrashed violently in his arms. “No. No, stop. I don’t know.” Her anxiety was building. Grabbing hold of her flying fists, Seth pinned her down on the bed. Her back arched and her legs kicked while she attempted to wrench herself from his grasp. “Natti, stop,” he ordered. “Stop!”
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Son of Set
(Descendants of Isis #2)
“. . . the Sons would never just let him go—alive.”
Seth O’Keefe has broken the laws of his god. He never thought he would sacrifice his own future to protect a Daughter of Isis. But when the Sons of Set discovered Natti is the Secret Keeper, he had no choice. Now, Seth and Natti are on the run from his father, who wants nothing more than to see Seth dead. With no allies, Seth turns to the Daughters of Isis for help, hoping they would protect Natti. But when they meet the Daughters, he discovers a secret that puts both their lives in more danger. Low on options, Seth sees only one possibility for survival. He must help Natti solve an ancient puzzle and find the secret name of Ra.
Natara “Natti” Stone is having a hard time swallowing the truth. She can’t believe what she has learned in the past twenty-four hours: Seth is a Son of Set blessed with charm; she is a Daughter of Isis blessed with a sliver of Ma ‘at; the locket her grandmother gave her holds an ancient Egyptian secret linking to Osiris and Isis. That along with being tortured and brutalized by the Sons of Set, she can hardly hold herself together. Thank God for Seth’s touch! That warm, tingling sensation that drowns it all out. Yet her heart struggles to stay focused. She must quickly embrace her destiny before the secret name of Ra falls into the wrong hands.