This book contains a huge volume of information about ancient Egypt, and I am assuming that this is the reason that other reviewers have awarded four and five stars. I would estimate that less than half of the information is in any way relevant to the topic of religion and magic, however. Instead of being a discussion of religion and magic, the book attempts to provide a sweeping history of the entire span of ancient Egyptian civilization. Unfortunately, this history is presented as an endless succession of often unrelated facts with no attempt to draw out interesting patterns and relationships and scant attempt at analysis and explanation. The lack of connection and analysis makes the writing at times almost incoherent. The style of writing can be seen in the following extract from the beginning of a paragraph `Although weak or foreign dynasties tried to revive the myth of the god-king in order to support their own royal status, the political power of the king continued to decline, along with his influence on religion. However, there appears to have been an increased association between the temples and lay people.' After reading the first sentence of the paragraph, I expect it to be further developed with an explanation of the ways in which the power of the king and his influence on religion declined and some explanations of why this might have been so. Instead, the paragraph goes on to discuss some completely unrelated customs involving lay people in temples. Though the book does have some moments where interesting analysis takes place, for the most part it is not even attempted.
The writing also contains a fair number of contradictions. At one point the author claims that priests were not allowed to wear animal skins and then two pages later she describes a priest wearing a panther skin. There must be a logical explanation for this contradiction, but the author offers none. The Pharaoh Akhenaten is described as revolutionary because he introduces monotheism to Egypt and allows no other gods to be worshipped. Within a few pages we suddenly find out that a second deity, the goddess Ma'at was supposedly retained. Once again, no explanation for this contradiction is offered.
The lack of analysis also means that there are occasions when problematic or disputed information is offered up as fact. The author mentions the discovery of Minoan-style paintings in tombs in Egypt and claims this to be unusual since in Minoan civilization wall painting were reserved for palaces. In fact, many scholars would argue that the so-called Minoan palaces were actually mortuary complexes.
In general, the dry, repetitive, disconnected style makes the book a difficult read. History books do not need to be dry. The substance of history is fascinating, but only if the various pieces of information are connected through analysis and explanation into a coherent picture of the subject being portrayed. This book unfortunately does not succeed in achieving that.