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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich

Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-06-084832-3

Here we have an adventure story that is sort of Napoleon meets Raiders of the Lost Ark. Our hero is an American ex-frontiersman, replete with long rifle, nevertheless a former aide to Ben Franklin in Paris. In a card game, he wins a strange old pendant covered with ancient Egyptian symbols, and suddenly everyone is after him.

He eventually ends up traveling to Egypt along with Napoleon and his army, as one of the general's “savants,” or scientists who are along to unravel the secrets of ancient Egypt. Once there, he naturally hooks up with a beautiful woman, and together they eventually plumb the secrets of the great pyramid, in an ending completely reminiscent of the best “Raiders” adventure.

It's a good yarn, eminently readable, if not particularly believable, and it is set in a genuine historical event, Napoleon's invasion of Egypt, which is often regarded as having instigated the “birth of Egyptology.” Actually, most of the story is relatively believable; it's only the final adventure that becomes total fantasy.

Recommended for people who enjoy adventure stories with historical settings, and who are willing to suspend their sense of disbelief in the interest of a good ending, or to be slightly more accurate, a good penultimate dénouement.

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