I had anxiously awaited to receive this book to read, only to find out it is basically written in journal style/letters style, with little other than 1st person dialogue. Really felt discouraged on it, probably why there was a quick turn around in putting it back on my bookshelf to trade after receiving it the first week of September 2008. No thanks I'll pass on this author if this is how he writes, I was piqued with curiosity with his 'Prague' but lesser now.
I laughed almost all the way to the end, when then intensity kicked in. Satire, greed, lies, money, evil around every corner. Delusional archeologist, druggie girlfriend, robber baron "master of Largesse", inept detective all combine in a well written tale spanning 20+ years. One little twist kept me from having correctly guessing the end (?). But it is really the end? We are, after all, immortal as long as someone remembers our name.
Two rather unreliable narrators -- one, probably not too bright even before he became senile and decided to write his memoirs, and the other obviously trying to impress his audience with his academic credentials and his tale -- but together you can piece together what actually happened in Egypt when two men disappeared (were murdered?) excavating a purported tomb just around the corner from King Tut's.
This book kept me guessing until the end. The story is told from a very limited perspective. The reader is left to piece together twists and turns of the story as the point of view skips from person to person and time to time. I really enjoyed this book, but I can see from other reviews that it is not for everyone.
A very different read -- written through letters spanning several decades from very different people -- the 1920s explorer, the 1920s fiancee back in the States, the overbearing future US 1920s father-in-law, the 1950s Australian private eye...Dry humor and very interesting characters. Really don't know how it all fits in together until the end. Recommended!
I love egyptology and this was a strange reading experience for me. Hearing different sides of the same story as told by different characters throughout the book keeps the reader on their toes trying to figure out the real truth - has the Egyptologist made a major discovery? The ending will knock you out.
We went to Egypt right after reading this book. It made the location palpable and put a human face on historical figures. Most of the characters are fictional, flawed, a dark psychological mystery/romance.
The book is easily lost in the author's attempt at flash-backs and flip-flopping characters. The "surprise" ending is easily discernible by the half-way point of the book and the characters are left a little flat so as to not build a report with them.
Sorry for this bad review, but I feel I wasted my money on this book and wouldn't want anyone else to plow through it just to get their money's worth!
A book of unbelievable imagination. The writing is beautiful but as you read further you keep wondering how he came up with the idea for this story in the first place and how he was able to pull it off without a false note. Phillips is an uncommonly gifted writer (see his first book "Prague" and the followup to "The Egyptologist," "Angelica"). Highly recommended.
While I love dark comedy and intrigue and horror and exotic locales, this was something Vaudevillian or Philip Marlowe about this style that just rubbed me the wrong way, something yukkety yuk yuk-ish. There are several story lines, and they're told by way of letters and cables and journals and manuscripts. I am glad I stuck with it because it grew on me as the story got more and more sick and twisted. Basically it's all about immortality, people wanting to live on in some way or another -- whether by publishing their life's work, ruling the world in the afterlife, or by sheer delusion.
While parts of the book were very entertaining, I had to force myself to read through chapters at a time hoping it would pick up again. I'm not going to say it was a bad book or that I wouldn't recommend it - it just didn't appeal to me.
Filled with fact, fiction, history and satire. Story begins in the desert of Egypt in 1922 and winds its way through Asutrailian slums, Boston ballrooms, Oxford and the 1st World War. Very entertaining.
"...what makes THE EGYPTOLOGIST a brilliant piece of fiction is the way Phillips unravels his tale; it's nothing short of genius. He put us in a position of omniscience; we readers can sit back and revel at the absurdity (and complexity) of his characters, watching as their motivations are revealed and their intentions unravel.
Phillips' humor is subtle and clever-he almost teases us-and he clearly respects his readers' intelligence... one of the best examples of the unreliable narrator I can think of." amazon review
This is a book with two stories going on which will eventually collide in unexpected ways. An Egyptologist, Ralph Trilipush, possibly a fraud, and his find of a lifetime (possibly a sham). Half of the book is Trilipush's journal entries which are boring as crap and mostly irrelevant to the story. These are mixed with letters to his fiancee, Margaret, in Boston and are just a waste of time. He is an arrogant ass and it is tedious to read these entries. Most of which I admit to skipping until around page 190 where they became the focus of the book and actually involved some digging in Egypt in search of the tomb of some king I'd never heard of and probably just made up for the story.
Detective, Harold Ferrell, is on the hunt for an Australian man, Paul Caldwell, who disappeared in 1918 while on campaign in Egypt. The detective is an old man in a nursing home so his parts are recollections of events 30 years in the past. Unfortunately, this involves lots of rambling letters written to a relative of Margaret's detailing his remembered (or made up) exploits.
After 383 pages of blah, blah, blah you'd expect the conclusion to at least conclude the mysteries. Well the mystery of the Australian is solved...if you use your intuition. However, the main mystery of the Egyptologist is very disappointingly left hanging. If the ending had been satisfying, I cuold have given this book two stars but as it was left, it barely even rates one star.
I forced myself to finish this book hoping it would live up to its praise which was printed in the front of the book - 5 pages worth. I must say that these must have been from university types who enjoy reading this dry as dirt and boring as hell crap. I honestly found this book to be a waste of time and not worth the paper it is printed on.
Worst bunch of nonsense I have tried to read in a long time. Ignore the reviews...I believe someone said that this was a book for the intelligent and reviewers were afraid to admit they did not get it. I do not think unless you are from England you would get much of the humor...and even then I'm not sure you would understand. Wordy, boring, endless. Seriously pass.
I dug this book out of my stacks of unread books after hearing about the recent damage done to King Tut's burial mask. The news story on TV talked about Howard Carter and his discovery of the tomb which piqued my interest in reading something about his discovery. I remembered buying The Egyptologist in 2004 after reading a good review of it but never got around to reading it. Anyway, sorry I waited so long. Although this was far from what I expected, I really enjoyed it. Full of misdirection and deceit. The novel was written in a very unique style using only letters and journals. The main characters whose journal and letters comprise the bulk of the story is Ralph Trilipush, an Egyptologist searching for the tomb of a fabled Egyptian King -- Atum-hadu. But how much of his journal is accurate and truthful? The other main character is the Australian detective, Ferrell, who relates his experiences from the 1920s in letters from his Australian nursing home in the 1950s. Ferrell gets involved with Trilipush when he is hired to search for a long-lost heir of a British brewery magnate in Australia. But how much of Ferrell's narrative is accurate? The story goes from Australia to Britain to New York to Egypt in search of answers but all is not as it seems. Overall, I would recommend this one. It was full of humor, misdirection, half-truths, and a lot of fun! Howard Carter is a minor character in the book and I probably will seek out more about him.