Without a doubt, another benefit of reading a book from each country is that I would actually learn where this country is located. I must admit that my knowledge about geography is limited to Europe, North America (yes, there are three countries there, so that one is easy), part of Asia, a small part of Africa and a tiny part of South America. Of course I knew that the tiny state of Andorra was somewhere in Europe and I imagined they spoke French there. It is indeed in Europe, between France and Spain, but the official language is Catalan, although French and Spanish are also spoken. The microstate is governed by two Co-Princes – the Spanish Bishop of Urgell and the President of France. Interestingly, there is more to Andorra than shopping, mountains, and tax evasion. There are also books being written.
I have come to peace with the fact that despite hours of research, friends’ recommendations, Ann Morgan’s suggestions and random decisions, during this year I would surely read a boring book, that I would actually force myself to finish. The Teacher of Cheops is the first book to meet that criteria. In all fairness, it is extremely difficult to find an English translation of a book from Andorra. I wasn’t particularly excited about this country and I simply decided to look at Morgan’s list. And for the first time she had only one suggestion. I saw that as a sign of some higher power that The Teacher of Cheops it is and I made a mistake.
The book is not that bad particularly. The topic itself is also quite interesting – Egypt and the pyramids – and yet I couldn’t get excited for even a minute. The story unravels during the time of Pharaoh Snefru, who build the first Egyptian pyramid. Through the experiences of the slave Sedum, who manages to escape slavery and to rise first to teacher of Snefru’s two sons (one of whom is Cheops, hence the title) and then to the Pharaoh’s treasurer, Salvado explores ancient Egypt with its glory, power, adultery and intrigues. The moral opponent of Sedum is the ambitious yet treacherous priest-turned-vizier Ramosi. Through the struggle between Sedum and Ramosi, between the Pharaoh Snefru and his wife, between the nobility and the common people, the future destiny of Egypt is born. Excluding a rather intersting plot twist at the end, the book for me was boring and I am ever so glad it got out of the way.
The one thing that made The Teacher of Cheops sort of bearable were the discussions between Sedum and the thinker Sebekhotep. Their conversations revealed some facts about the way of thinking 4,500 years ago and provided room for thought (a widely known fact is that I like only books that make me think, how very modest of me). Favorite quote from Sebekhotep for sure is:
Everything is written in the stars. Most of us live our lives unaware of it. Some can read the stars and see their destiny. But very few people learn to write in the stars and change their destiny.
Overall, Andorra is out of the way, and needless to say I would still associate it with shopping, skiing and tax evasion. On the positive side, I now know the language they speak and who governs them. I also know who build the first pyramid. Not an entirely wasted afternoon, that is.