The First Pharaoh

Readers’ Discussion Guide

  1. The First Pharaoh is set in approximately 3,150 BC. By then Egypt was already an advanced civilization. What aspects of early ancient Egypt culture surprised you?

  2. By 3,150 BC the Egyptian legal system already afforded women certain rights and privileges, such as the right to initiate divorce proceedings, inheritance rights and the right to own a business. Does this surprise you?

  3. King Narmer was revered by every subsequent King and Pharaoh (a term that originated later) and worshipped as a deity in some instances. What about King Narmer’s personality and accomplishments made him so revered?

  4. How would you characterize the relationship between King Narmer and Neith-Hotep? Which aspects did you enjoy most? Which aspects did you enjoy least?

  5. The relationship between Meni and his father, King Scorpion, was a complex one. Do you feel that King Scorpion loved his son? Do you feel that Menes ways of coping with his father’s disapproval were appropriate?

  6. Anhotek served as a father-figure for the young Meni. What aspects of their relationship were notable to you?

  7. Could Egypt have achieved its future greatness without Unification?

  8. Ancient Egyptian medicine was far advanced by 3,150 BC, but still primitive compared with modern medicine. What aspects of medical practices impressed you and what aspects negatively impressed you?

  9. What impact did King Narmer’s epilepsy have upon his character?

  10. Should Anhotek have done more to mediate the conflict between Menes and King Scorpion?

  11. Compare and contrast Ihy’s strengths and weaknesses with Anhotek’s.

  12. How did Mersyankh influence King Narmer’s eventual character?

  13. How did the ancient Egyptians’ adherence to ma’at influence their development as a culture?

  14. Was the push for Unification more attributable to King Narmer or Anhotek?

  15. Some scholars have suggested that ancient Egypt was originally peopled by black tribes from northern Sudan. In any event, the interactions between Egypt and the cultures to its south were already advanced by 3,150 BC. How does that influence show up in Meruka’s character?

  16. Egypt society was open to other cultures, albeit on a limited basis due to their geography. How did you respond to Anhotek’s and Meni’s interactions with the distinctly Semitic Me’ka’el and El-Or?

  17. Some Egyptologists believe that ancient Egyptian civilization significantly influenced the formative years of Judaism. Are you aware of any customs, beliefs, ceremonies or practices that are similar in both ancient Egypt and in Judaism?

  18. How did the description of the Battle for Unification affect you? Did the goriness of ancient hand-to-hand combat make an impression? Did the characters’ response to the realities of battle surprise you?

  19. Did King Narmer do a good job preparing his son for leadership?

  20. “Come, Anhotek. Our story is over. Our work here is done. Horus waits. Take my hand. Let us fly to him now… let us soar together.” King Narmer on his death bed says these words to his long-dead vizier, Anhotek. Was King Narmer’s work truly done? Was Anhotek’s?

  21. The link between the King/Pharaoh and Horus is a strong and pervasive one throughout the novel and throughout Egyptian Dynastic rule. Like Native American beliefs, the falcon is a strong totem. How did it serve King Narmer throughout his life? Was it a benefit or a curse?