Marie Corelli was born in England. She was the illegitimate daughter of the Scottish poet Charles Mackey and his servant. Marie was sent to a Parisian convent for her education. Her Victorian romances have been compared to those of Jaqueline Suzann. Ziska is a mysterious Princess who captivates a group of European tourists who have come to Egypt to enjoy the warmer weather in exotic Egypt. Ziska draws three men towards her--Denzil Murray, a Scottish highlander; Armand Gervase, a French painter; and Dr. Maxwell Dean, an English historian and Egyptologist. Ziska grips the reader from the very first sentences, "Dark against the sky towered the Great Pyramid, and over its apex hung the moon. Like a wreck cast ashore by some titanic storm, the Sphinx, reposing amid the undulating waves of grayish sand surrounding it, seemed for once to drowse. Its solemn visage that had impassively watched ages come and go, empires rise and fall, and generations of men live and die, appeared for the moment to have lost its usual expression of speculative wisdom and intense disdain--its cold eyes seemed to droop, its stern mouth almost smiled. The air was calm and sultry; and not a human foot disturbed the silence. But towards midnight a Voice suddenly arose as it were like a wind in the desert, crying aloud: "Araxes! Araxes!" and wailing past, sank with a profound echo into the deep recesses of the vast Egyptian tomb."