The Priestess of Isis by Edouard Schure © 2004

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    The Priestess of Isis  by  Edouard Schure          © 2004   Red Wheel/Weiser  ISBN  0-89254-093-1   xxx pages    Paperback        $16.95  (U.S.)


    The author was a French occultist in the early 20th Century (1841 – 1929) who wrote a number of books.  This one is a novel set in Pompeii just before the eruption of Vesuvius which sealed the city’s fate.  This is a morality tale in many ways as the hero must choose between the religion of Isis (forbidden in Rome at this time) and that of Hecate; between good and evil, between what he desires and what is expected of him; between wealth and virtue.


    It is written in a style which was common at the time (long on exposition, short on action) which may well come across as tedious to those younger readers used to action-adventure stories of the mid- to late 20th Century.  The story is full of details and not so much concerned with what happens as with why it happens.


    The author spends a fair portion of the early part of the book laying out his perception of the Egyptian religion as practiced under Roman rulership.  How well this reflects reality is open to debate.  We have learned much more about Egyptian life and religion in the intervening years.  In any case, his writings reflect the perceptions current in the occult community at the time the book was written.


    This book, unfortunately, will be of limited appeal to the general reading public, even those with Pagan backgrounds.  It deserves better, however.  In some ways it reminds me of The Golden Ass of Apuleius (another much neglected novel of Isis).


    There is much to be learned from this novel, even if the style is dated.  Granted that the information may not be factual, it conveys the feel of the times (both of Ancient Rome and those of the author) and that helps to expand our knowledge of the past.


    This is not a book which I would recommend to everyone.  One needs a certain level of maturity (for lack of a better description) to appreciate this writing.  It isn’t a matter of age; it’s a matter of needing perseverance to continue reading even though the pacing is quite slow.


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