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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

The Mummy: Curse of the Nile Curse of the Nile
The Mummy Chronicles Book III
Written by Dave Wolverton

Page numbers come from the first edition paperback, August 2001

Alex encounters a djinn who will grant him three wishes. What could be wrong with that?


A summary of the story can be found at The Mummy Chronology here.


Didja Know?


The Mummy Chronicles is a series of four young readers books about Alex O'Connell, set during 1937-38 when he was 12 years old.


Didja Notice?


The guard on page 1 is said to be a Nubian. The Nubians were originally an ethnic group inhabiting southern Egypt and northern Sudan. The character of Balthazar in The Scorpion King was also a Nubian.


The amulet which imprisons the sorcerer/djinn is referred to as the tchet. The word "tchet" has multiple meanings in the ancient Egyptian language, one of which is an amulet that was said to endow the wearer with the stability of the backbone of Osiris. Rick also refers to the legend of an amulet called tchet (or djed) or the Backbone of Osiris on page 32. "Tchet" also has the meaning of a sacred pillar or tree trunk worshipped in Egypt's pre-dynastic times as symbolic of the backbone of Osiris (part of the mythology of Osiris is that he was killed by his brother Set and his body cut into pieces).


On page 5, the sorcerer binds his spirit to the tchet, making himself a djinn. A djinn is a supernatural being of Arab folklore, also known as a genie.


The Nile River plays an important part in the story. The Nile is the longest river in the world (4,130 miles) and flows from south to north through ten countries of Africa.


In the prologue, in ancient Egyptian times, the priest Nafi, observes hippos in the water near the shore of the Nile. At this time, hippos did still exist in Egypt. Egyptian hippos were all killed off in more recent centuries.


On page 9, Alex muses on the fabled temple of Osiris, "the largest and most fabulous building in Egypt", the ruins of which Fatima believes she has found along the banks of the Nile. There is an historic Great Temple of Osiris in the ancient city of Abydos, but it has never been considered "lost", so the one discovered in the book must be a fictional construction.


Page 10 suggests that Evie is now one of the most famous Egyptologists in the world.


Page 10 mentions the magazine Modern Archaeology. This appears to be a fictional publication.


Page 10 reveals that Alex was born in Egypt.


Alex tells Fatima they'll have to get off the boat at El Fayidh and ride along the Nile by camel to get to the shore where the ruins of the temple are located. As far as I can tell El Fayidh is a fictional port.


This book does not reveal the year in which it is set, but page 12 does reveal that Alex is still 12 years old at the time. Since the previous book, Heart of the Pharaoh, opens on Halloween 1937, this one must take place either in November or December of the same year or some time in 1938.


Page 31 reveals that Zorin Ungricht is wanted by police in at least a dozen countries.


On page 33, the boat captain warns about getting the nearly-drowned Alex dry and into bed before he comes down with swamp fever. "Swamp fever" is a generic term used for several diseases associated with swampy environments. The captain is probably referring to leptospirosis, which can be caught from contact with water that has been contaminated with animal urine.


On page 44, Matt hyperbolically comments that Alex's underwater swim from the crocodiles in the Nile was faster than anyone in Olympic history. The modern Olympic Games (inspired by the ancient Greek Olympics c. 776 BC-393 AD) began in 1896, featuring amateur athletes engaged in numerous sports competitions in representation of their home countries. The modern Olympics continue, of course, to this day.


The name of Chapter 5 of the book, "If Wishes Were Fishes", is borrowed from a variation of an original English proverb, "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride." The full variation here would be, "If wishes were fishes, we'd all have some fried."


On page 69, Matt claims his father is going to be so mad at him that, "I'll probably lose my radio privileges." In the 1930s, that was probably a similar punishment to that of the modern day child losing television or internet privileges.


Page 71 refers to Cairo's "bad part of town" as Bloodville. As far as I can tell, this nickname is made up by the author.


Page 72 mentions that pubs and taverns are all but outlawed in Egypt. Egypt is a largely Islamic country and the Islamic holy book, the Koran, prohibits the consumption of alcohol.


On page 74, Ungricht and Alex remark on their past confrontations, describing events that took place in Revenge of the Scorpion King and Heart of the Pharaoh.


As Alex uses the tchet to transport he and his friends away from the djinn, page 79 describes them flying over the Mediterranean Sea. This is the sea which lies on the north coast of Africa (and thus Egypt).


On page 89, Alex remarks that the tomb in which the priest Nafi is ensconced is similar to the one carved in the cliffs of the Valley of the Kings. This was a location of tombs for the pharaohs and nobles of the New Kingdom era of ancient Egypt on the west bank of the Nile from Thebes (now Luxor). The site is still undergoing archaeological exploration and is a popular tourist site.


On page 90, Alex reads the name of the mummy priest from the hieroglyphs on his tomb. He reads the glyphs of waves, a hawk, a snail, and two knives as "Nafi". This is an approximately correct hieroglyphic spelling of the name from the symbols: waves=an "n" sound; hawk (actually vulture)=an "a" sound; there is no snail hieroglyph in Egyptian, the "f" sound hieroglyph should be a horned adder (perhaps mistaken as a slug by the author, similar to a snail); "two knives" I've been unable to find a corresponding sound.


On page 94, Nafi claims that destroying the djinn could result in the destruction of the universe! Sounds like a Marvel comic!


On page 99, Alex wishes the warriors he's summoned up from the rocks of the cliffs around him were like the knights in armor of King Arthur. King Arthur, of course, is the legendary (possibly mythological) British leader of the late fifth and early sixth centuries. His knights were the Knights of the Round Table.


When Alex uses the tchet to fix everything back to the way it was before the actions of the djinn, page 106 implies that he "improved" Matt's ears from being rather large to normal size!


On page 108, an Islamic priest warns that the recent bizarre events (wrought by the djinn and Alex's use of the tchet to set things back to the way they were) are a warning from Allah. "Allah" is the Arabic word for "God".


Ardeth forgives Alex for hiding and using the tchet, saying it must have been the will of the gods that he find the amulet and destroy the djinn.


On page 111, Evie remarks that the strange, gigantic toads found in Cairo (unknown to her, actually Ungricht and his men, transformed by Matt's wish of the djinn) are a herpetologist's dream. And Rick states that most of them have already been turned into frog legs by a nearby tavern owner! Only the largest (Ungricht) is still alive, awaiting transport to the London Zoo. Herpetology is the study of amphibians; the London Zoo is a real zoo in England, one of the largest in the country.


Visiting the Ungricht-toad on temporary display in the garden of the English embassy before transportation to the London Zoo on page 113, Alex asks his friends if they should tell the gardener to feed it some sauerkraut. Sauerkraut is a traditional German dish of fermented shredded cabbage.


In the "About Ancient Egypt" fact pages at the end of the book, ancient Egyptian amulets are described as being made in various shapes, one of which is referred to as "the wedjet eye". "Wedjet" is another name for the Eye of Horus, a symbol of protection (the eye is often painted on the prows of ships, as on Izzy's dirigible in The Mummy Returns and even on Winston's plane in The Mummy).


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