PHARAOH: a Canadian Mohawk on the Nile

Of all the larger-than-life character portraits that have entered popular memory from the 1884-5 British Nile campaign – the future Lord Kitchener, a desert spy, disguised as an Arab and carrying a cyanide tablet in case of capture; the wiry and imperturbable General Wolseley, sticking to his plans against the odds; the extraordinary Colonel Fred Burnaby, greatest adventurer of his age, wearing a deerstalker and blasting away at the dervishes with his shotgun – none are more impressive for me than James Deer, known to his people as Sak Arakentiake ...


Read More

PHARAOH: medals of the 1884-5 Nile campaign

The two Victorian campaign medals shown here were among my most prized artefacts while I was writing Pharaoh, and appear as illustrations in several editions of the novel. My 19th century protagonist is a Royal Engineers officer in the 1884 campaign to relieve General Gordon in Khartoum, and I was thrilled to discover a medal named to an actual R.E. sapper who took part in the campaign. These two medals were awarded to all British soldiers and sailors who saw active service in Egypt and Sudan from 1882 to 1889, and were dated accordingly ...


Read More


This week I'm guest-editing 'The Afterword' for the National Post, one of Canada's national papers with a circulation of nearly a million. Here's my first post:

My most recent novel, Pharaoh, is really a novel within a novel, a modern-day archaeological adventure also set in the late 19th century during the doomed British attempt to relieve General Gordon in Khartoum. I’ve always been fascinated by British colonial history, party because of my own family background – in this case, an ancestor who was a Royal Engineers officer and chair of the ‘Gordon Relics Committee’, responsible for safeguarding Gordon’s collection of ethnographic and archaeological materials after his death. During my research I immersed myself in first-hand accounts and artefacts ...


Read More