The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Odysseus, king of Ithaca and a hero of the Trojan War, returns to his home after a long period of wandering. After finding Ithaca destroyed, he receives a vision of Aphrodite, who inspires him to search for his true love, the legendary Helen of Troy. Odysseus is then kidnapped by Sidonian pirates, whom he eventually overpowers.

After taking control of the pirates’ vessel, Odysseus sails to Tanis, in Egypt, where he is plunged into a variety of sexual and political conspiracies. Meneptah, the pharaoh, welcomes the hero and entrusts him with guarding his beautiful wife, Meriamun. The queen, however, is a powerful sorceress and perceives Odysseus’ true identity. She becomes obsessed with plans to kill the pharaoh and to rule Egypt with Odysseus at her side.

Meneptah’s monarchy, Odysseus soon learns, is threatened by two factors. First, agitation by a colony of enslaved Jews who desire to be released from captivity has caused several supernatural curses to afflict the native Egyptians. Second, the men of Tanis have formed a cult worshiping a beautiful woman known as “The Strange Hathor.” After fighting his way through a ghostly army of dead heroes who protect this demigoddess, Odysseus discovers her to be the lost Helen. They admit their love for each other, but Meriamun uses an evil charm to thwart their plans to wed. From a jewel she throws at her feet emerges a huge snake. Wrapping itself around the queen’s body, the creature grows...

(The entire section is 439 words.)