Richard Wilkinson's latest book (he has previously written "Reading Egyptian Art," "Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art," and "The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt") presents the reader with an impressive selection of all the major gods and goddesses, and many of the minor ones, of ancient Egypt. Although hardly "complete" in the technical sense (Wilkinson discusses "only" 500 of Egypt's 1500 or so deities, and much more could be said about the ones he does discuss), the book is fairly "complete" in a practical sense: most gods that most readers want to look up, will get at least a brief mention. For example, you will find here the 24 Hours of the Day and Night, 12 (of 21) Gates of the Underworld, all 42 Gods of Judgement, and all 42 (hmm... there's that number again!) Nome Deities.
The book begins with twelve brief essays (4-6 pages each) on Egyptian religion, covering such topics as creation myths, manifestations of divinity, temple and popular worship, and divine kingship. The essays are thoughtful, informative, and up-to-date with current scholarship. I wish they had been longer, because they deserve to be expanded at greater length than the book allocates to them.
The rest of the book, some 180 pages, is devoted to a "Catalogue of Deities," organized by biological shape (anthropomorphic male and female, mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, insects, and inanimate objects). This is a great idea, but it could have been taken even further. A visual index of shapes would make lookup much easier, and would only take an additional page or two. A name index is, of course, provided. Why not give a hieroglyphic index as well?
Going to the individual entries, Wilkinson generally provides information about the mythology, iconography, and worship of each deity. The deities are generously illustrated, with line drawings and photographs. Again, I would wish that many of these entries could be expanded, both in terms of discussion and in terms of visual iconography. This is not a criticism of Wilkinson; it just reflects the practical limitations of the book.
To summarize, Wilkinson's "Gods and Goddesses" is a very well-written, thoughtful, accurate, beautifully produced and illustrated reference on the religion of ancient Egypt. In terms of coverage it is somewhere between a handbook and an encyclopedia. I am very glad to have it in its present form, and I only wish that it had been much longer, since it is clear that Wilkinson has more to say about this subject than could fit into the covers of the present book. I would gladly pay double the price to have a truly complete encyclopedia of Egypt's gods from this author.