Vintage Reads #13 – The Mummy, or Ramses the Damned

TheMummyAnne Rice, writer of the famous Vampire Chronicles, penned this short stand alone novel in 1989 and, drawing upon the legacy of Universal and Hammer monster movies, succeeded in creating a great modern version of an age old tale set during the wave of Egyptomania of the early twentieth century.

Opening in 1914, a mysterious tomb is discovered by wealthy archaeologist Lawrence Stratford. There is a mummy and some notes written by the deceased that claim he is none other than Ramses II (the Great). This is regarded as a hoax by most as the mummy of Ramses II had already been discovered by this point and the style and script found in the tomb are from the Ptolemaic period, many hundreds of years after the time of Ramses II.

Ramses’s deal is that he obtained the elixir of life from a Hittite princess and is thus immortal, although often dormant to be ‘regenerated’ by the rays of the sun. He existed in this way for centuries, called upon by the rulers of Egypt for counsel in their times of need. The last to call upon him was Cleopatra who he fell in love with. Needless to say, with Mark Anthony and the birth of the Roman Empire on the horizon, that ended badly.

RAMmummy (1)The villain of the piece is Stratford’s nephew Henry who poisons his uncle shortly after the discovery of the tomb. The mummy is brought back to London and promptly regenerates just in time to stop Henry from trying his poisoning trick on his cousin, Julie. In his new form as a living, breathing Adonis, Ramses quickly has a new lover in the form of Julie. Calling himself Ramsey (see what he did there?) the undead pharaoh immerses himself in the modern world, drinking it all in like a giddy schoolboy.

With the drunken Henry, driven half mad by what he has seen, now obsessed with getting his hands on the elixir, Julie and Ramsey travel to Egypt, intent on seeing the sights. Things don’t go to plan however as Ramsey spots an unidentified mummy in the Cairo museum and, recognizing his old flame Cleopatra, uses the elixir on her resulting in two mummies on the loose.

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