This volume sets this half’s storyline in motion (yeah, part VII was rather a proloque,like part I for the first half).
After the events in”The Hunted” (no accurate dates, but it takes place “many years later”, though still in the 16th century, and definitely looooong before 1588, I guess it’s around the mid-1570s) Andrej Delany and his friend Abu Dun have arrived in Africa. In the middle of the Lybian desert they encounter gruesome slavetraders. To get into their headquarters the two let themself be captured. In the desert-fortress of Ali Jihn nd his minions, they meet several recently enslaved villagers and one particular woman: Redhead and Nubian (like Abu Dun) Meruhe.
Together, they help all the villagers to escape and a long journey through the desert begins, in persuit by Ali Jhin and his men. Though she is definitely not one of their kind, Meruhe also seems to have special powers. To get rid of their followers, she casts a terrible sandstorm, and vanishes with her people into the night. Andrej and Abu Dun meet her again in the next town, as the slave to the rich man Farak. The heroes free her, only to realise that she is indeed one of their kind, and even older than themselves. In their escape through the city, Andrej and Abu Dun also run across our main villains in the book: Five mysterious Nubians, “friends” of Meruhe and also the lords of all slaves (aka the people Abu Dun was looking for a long time ago), led by the dangerous Seth. After a narrow escape, a long journey through the desert begins (it’s kinda repetitive, isn’t it), and Andrej falls in love with the mysterious, mind-reading Meruhe, much to Abu Dun’s dislike.
In the end, in the Valley of the Kings, our heroes must face Farak, Ali Jihn and Seth, but Meruhe takes a huge step and risks everything, even the life of her people. Seth teaches her a lesson in mind-controlling, and eventually takes her with him, leaving Andrej and Abu Dun not only with a lot of gold, but also with the revelation that they just have encountered gods…
Writing the plot-summary made me realise that volume 8 was was rather ridiculous in its storyline. It’s also one of the more boring books, though it’s definitely not bad. What’s kept in mind are huge spelling mistakes (AbO Dun for example).
It’s also the first time Meruhe appears (yeah, she will return – SPOILERS!), but she is also a rather annoying character. On the one hand she is like a mother, on the other hand she behaves like a silly little girl. The revelation that she and the other Nubians are Egyptian Gods is the most interesting part of the story, as well as the first confrontation with them in the town (this is really an epic moment).
Of course Andrej sleeps with her, and of course it makes him lose his abilities – to be more precisly: his immortality (yeah, I forgot that in the plot-summary, look how important it is…). This scenario we already know from volume IV.
Also annoying is the fact that Andrej and Abu Dun still have to find out that immortals can hide themselves (I mean, not that they should be aware about that fact since volume III). At the end, there are some very, very dumb character-decisions by our protagonist Andrej.
But I like the showdown and the way it’s presented. The scene between Andrej and Meruhe at the tomb is very intense and thrilling (especially when you keep the “third night” in volume IV in mind), and though it’s not fully used, it still gives me goosebumbs. The villains are not really the villains, which is also an interesting step. Andrej and Abu Dun are no match for them (I think they are even much stronger than the demon in part VII)
All in all, “The Cursed” is ok, not that great, but definitely not bad.