Pillar of Fire (novel)

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Pillar of Fire
Author Judith Tarr
Language English
Subject Egypt--History--Eighteenth dynasty
Genre Historical fiction
Publisher Forge
Publication date
Pages 448
ISBN 0-312-85542-7
OCLC 32088557
813/.54 20
LC Class PS3570.A655 P55 1995

Pillar of Fire is a 1995 historical fantasy novel by Judith Tarr. It deals with the reigns of Egyptian pharaohs Akhenaten and Tutankhamun and the Exodus from the perspective of a Hittite slave girl of Ankhesenpaaten.[1] It draws heavily on Ahmed Osman's theory that Moses and Ankhenaten were the same person.[2]

The idea of Akhenaten as the pioneer of a monotheistic religion that later became Judaism has been considered by various scholars starting with Sigmund Freud's views in Moses and Monotheism.[3][4][5][6][7][8] Tarr comments in the endnotes that she was surprised at how little she had to tweak historical fact to write the story.

The audiobook version, published in 1998, ran for approximately 22 hours and was read by Anna Fields.[9]


Set in ancient Egypt the narrative is based on the notion that Moses and the Pharaoh Akhenaten were one and the same. Narrated in the third person from the viewpoint of a Hittite slave girl, the novel juxtaposes the Exodus story with the events in the Egyptian court.[10]


The novel was a NESFA 1995 Hugo Recommendation.[11]


Publishers Weekly:

With her usual skill, Tarr (Throne of Isis) combines fact and fiction to create yet another remarkably solid historical novel set in ancient Egypt. This narrative is based on an intriguing premise: What if Moses, patriarch of monotheism, and the Pharaoh Akhenaten, who forbade the Egyptians from worshiping any god save the sun god Aten, were one and the same?....The juxtaposition of the Exodus story with the events in the Egyptian court makes for an engrossing saga, and Nofret's shrewd skepticism in the face of such great events lends the tale intimacy. This is a highly entertaining blend of romance, drama and historical detail.[12]

Tarr's novel represents the most dramatic connection between the Amarna phase of Egyptian history and Hebrew monotheism.[13]


  1. ^ "Pillar of Fire: A book review by Mark L. Olson". NESFA Members' Reviews. New England Science Fiction Association. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  2. ^ Scott, Whitney (1995-06-01). "Pillar of Fire, by Judith Tarr (REVIEW)". Booklist. American Library Association. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  3. ^ Freud, S. (1939). Moses and Monotheism: Three Essays.
  4. ^ Gunther Siegmund Stent, Paradoxes of Free Will. American Philosophical Society, DIANE, 2002. 284 pages. Pages 34 - 38. ISBN 0-87169-926-5
  5. ^ Jan Assmann, Moses the Egyptian: The Memory of Egypt in Western Monotheism. Harvard University Press, 1997. 288 pages. ISBN 978-0-674-58739-7
  6. ^ N. Shupak, The Monotheism of Moses and the Monotheism of Akhenaten. Sevivot, 1995.
  7. ^ Montserrat, (2000)
  8. ^ William F. Albright, From the Patriarchs to Moses II. Moses out of Egypt. The Biblical Archaeologist, Vol. 36, No. 2 (May, 1973), pp. 48-76. doi 10.2307/3211050
  9. ^ "Pillar of Fire". Blackstone Audio. Retrieved 2009-04-12. 
  10. ^ "Pillar Of Fire, Pillar Of Truth". Retrieved 2009-04-16. 
  11. ^ http://www.nesfa.org/recommends/hugos95.html
  12. ^ https://www.amazon.com/Pillar-Fire-Judith-Tarr/dp/0812539036
  13. ^ Brian M. Britt (2004). Rewriting Moses. Continuum International Publishing Group. p. 26. ISBN 978-0-567-08087-5. 

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