TAITA, the gender-bending Ancient Egyptian wizard, scientist, physician, artist, philosopher and warrior is back after a hiatus of 10 years ... with publication of DESERT GOD by best-selling author Wilbur Smith.
This is fifth book in the series which started 20 years ago with RIVER GOD, which introduced readers to a young eunuch slave whose devotion to Pharaoh's daughter propels him to almost god-like feats.
In his determination to save his beloved child princess, Taita saves the entire Egyptian civilization from destruction by Hyksos hordes from the north ... and sets the stage for the rise of the New Kingdom dynasties under Hatshepsut, Thutmosis and Rameses.
Taita instantly won the hearts of LGBTIU readers, who helped make that first book an instant best-seller.
Taita is the "favorite character ever" of millions, including AridBlue who created this portrait of Taita.
In the course of three more sequels, Taita grew in stature and magical power ... and even found the secret of eternal youth at the source of the Nile by the end of book four.
Now Taita is back in the fifth book of the series.
And this time he is leading a campaign for the final annihilation of the hated Hyksos oppressors by skirting eastward across the Sinai desert to the magical city of Babylon, and then across the open seas back to Crete.
Historians may quibble with Smith's take on the turbulent period about 1,600 years BC ... but this was the Second Intermediate Period of Ancient Egyptian history ... a time from which few records have survived and many questions remain unanswered as to how Egyptian kings-in-exile returned from the reaches of the Upper Nile to expel the Hyksos from Northern Egypt.
Best known for his adventure stories involving southern Africa, 81-year-old Smith says he has nonetheless always been interested in Ancient Egypt.
When his first book became a success 50 years ago, he used the money to travel from South Africa to Egypt to see the Land of the Nile for himself.
"And then one day I was in the Temple of Karnak and all the other tourists had gone and I was just looking up at the Great Hypostyle Hall columns," he told a South African TV interviewer.
"And I heard a little voice speaking to me. And it said: 'My name is Taita. Write my story'." (Image above: "Taita" by hedonistbyheart)
After pausing for effect, Smith laughed and added, "That's how it should have happened. But it didn't. At any rate, I decided to write 'River God' and that was 20 years ago," he said.
"And now this is the fifth book in the series. And it has given me a tremendous amount of pleasure doing the series. And I think, judging from the letters and the feedback I've got from my readers, the readers liked it too."