Birds of the Nile:
An Egyptian Adventure
An Egyptian Adventure
by N. E. David
Birds of the Nile is currently on tour with Reading Addiction Book Tours. The tour stops here today for an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
British ex-diplomat Michael Blake has been blinded and is confined to his flat in Cairo. Every few days a visitor comes to read to him. It’s a year since he took early retirement and booked a long–awaited birding trip on the Nile.
Half way through the voyage he meets Lee Yong and finds himself falling for her. But she’s falling for Reda, their tour guide. He isn’t all he seems either and when the Egyptian revolution kicks off, Blake finds himself embroiled in a tangled web of love and intrigue. When Reda is captured and thrown into jail, Blake will be forced to decide – to help Lee Yong and join the revolution or stand aside and risk losing everything.
Set against the background of the events of January 2011, Birds of the Nile is a powerful story of loss and self discovery as three disparate characters, each with their own agenda, seek to come to terms with change. Part political thriller, part love story, Birds of the Nile reminds us of the complex nature of global cultural interaction and how, as individuals, we try to deal with it.
There were times when he thought he could see the light - or at least sense it - a faint blur amidst the general darkness. He knew it was there, for each morning when he shuffled across the bare boards of his room and threw open the shutters to let in the day, he remembered how it would come flooding in, great long shafts of it slicing into the space between the window and his bed, the covers turned back, the sheet still warm from whatever rest he had managed the night before. Then he would feel it too, the heat of it on his hands and feet, and for a minute or two he would bathe his face in it, slanting his chin upwards toward the sun which even at that early hour still had the capacity to burn. It would strike him how pleasurable this was, and rather than go to the bathroom for his morning ablutions and take the risk of boiling a kettle and pouring scalding water into a sink, he would remain by the window and wash himself in a brightness he knew but could not see. And so, in this way, another day would slowly but surely begin.
On this particular morning he had woken with a jolt. The dream which had continually afflicted his sleep had returned and was plaguing him once more. He had thought himself free of it, but it was back and with it the suspicion that it would never truly leave him.
And yet it always began so well. He would find himself running in the midst of a large crowd, almost like a herd of buffalo charging across an open plain. He was filled with a feeling of joy and light-headedness and he imagined he was carrying something in his hand (was it a flag?) which he seemed to hold aloft as if in triumph. Then he would become aware of the noise, the raised voices of the tumult surrounding him, the shouts and cries of the crowd and the deep rumble of stones landing on corrugated sheeting. And somewhere at the back of his throat he could taste what he thought was the bitterness of gunsmoke.
Then the dreaded moment would arrive, preceded as if it were a herald’s trumpet by the loud whinnying of a horse. The massive beast and its rider would suddenly appear out of the confusion and rear up before him in fear. He would find himself staring at its hooves and a moment would pass in which he could hear nothing save a strange rattle as though a tin can were being kicked down the street. Then it would fall silent again for a second before everything erupted in a deafening roar and the searing pain would begin.
Here he would jerk himself awake and sit bolt upright in the bed, his upper body drenched in sweat and his breath coming in short, sharp gasps like those of a panting dog. He would stay there, his arms pushed back against the sheets behind him until he had finally calmed himself and told himself that it was only a dream. But after a while, when he felt ready, as if in the hope that all life since had been part of his imagination too, he would gradually prise his eyelids apart to test the reality.
Yet still there would be nothing.
Eventually, he would swing his legs over the edge of the bed and instead of trying to fall back to sleep and risk a repeat of the same painful journey, he would make his way across to the window where he would open the shutters once more.
It is always a joy to find a good read among the dross that one finds out there these days. Michael Blake, newly retired from the British Foreign office in Egypt, doesn't return home. He loves his adopted country. We know at the beginning that he is going to lose his sight. How, we wonder. He goes on a boat tour along the Nile to bird watch. Along the way he meets people who he suspects may be involved in the political unrest threatening the country and gradually becomes involved. Any further explanation on the story would be a spoiler. This book is by someone who knows how to write and construct a tale. It is a book I will remember for some time.
About the Author
N. E. David is the pen name of York author Nick David. Nick tried his hand at writing at the age of 21 but like so many things in life, it did not work out first time round. Following the death of his father in 2005, he took it up again and has been successful in having a series of short novellas published both in print and online.
Nick maintains he has no personal or political message to convey but that his objective is merely to entertain the reader and he hopes this is reflected in his writing. Besides being a regular contributor to Literary Festivals and open mics in the North East Region, Nick is also a founder member of York Authors and co-presenter of Book Talk on BBC Radio York.