Title: Napoleon's Pyramids
Author: William Dietrich
Protagonist: Ethan Gage
Setting: Paris, France and Egypt in 1798
First Line: It was luck at cards that started the trouble, and enlistment in mad invasion that seemed the way out of it.
Once apprenticed to Benjamin Franklin, American Ethan Gage finds himself at loose ends in Paris, occasionally paying his rent from his winnings at cards. It's a card game that's his undoing. Winning an old, curious-looking Egyptian medallion in a game, Gage suddenly finds himself hip-deep in trouble. The police think he's the likely suspect in a murder, and Gage manages to escape their clutches by joining Napoleon's Egyptian campaign. Is Gage going to be able to live long enough to find out what the medallion means?
I like Egyptology, I like games of chance, I like puzzles, and I like reading about Nelson blowing the French out of the water in the Battle of the Nile. Although all these things are in Napoleon's Pyramids, I didn't like the book. It took me forever to read the thing. For a thriller, I found it very cumbersome and slow going. Even though an editor's heavy hand with a red pencil would have tightened things up and made it move faster, I still would have had problems with it. Lots of historical detail with twentieth-century dialogue. Repetitive sentence structure. A romantic angle that just didn't work. The entire book felt like it wanted to be a screenplay for a film that's a cross between Indiana Jones, The Mummy and National Treasure.
I think I would've preferred watching the movies.
I actually thought this was pretty decent. I thought the mathematical discussions that one reviewer said was over their head actually made it at least somewhat more believable. I agree that the romantic angle the author included wasn't really so good. But the Egyptology was fun to read and so were the character portrayals of Gage and even Napoleon himself. Or course, I don't read this stuff for edification, it's totally brain candy, so I take it with that grain of salt.
Ethan Gage is a likable enough character as an American living in Paris who tags along on Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in a quest for some mysterious power of the ancients. There's war, intrigue and plenty of action, as well as some pretty intense mathematical discussions, which, frankly, were a mite over my head. It's all very reminiscent of 'Indiana Jones' and weaves history, mysteries of Egypt and Biblical legends into a pretty fantastic adventure.
This was one of those books where I read the back cover and thought, "This is MY kind of book." Then I started reading it, and it proceeded to disappoint in every possible way. What a painfully slow story full of battle details that didn't add much to the overall premise of the book: What is the meaning of and the intrigue surrounding the gold medallion Ethan Gage wins in a card game?
I must admit I stopped reading at page 222. At that point, I realized I just didn't care anymore about the medallion.
So I will never know the meaning of the medallion or the pyramids, and I will never understand why Gage's relationship with Ben Franklin was integral to the story.
I can live with that.
Well researched, yet has a humorous hero who reminds me of Indiana Jones....but maybe sexier! William Dietrich writes a good book with plenty of adventure and humor. I enjoyed the book. Genny
A good read. It is a historical fiction thriller-almost but not quite an Indiana Jones. However, it does have a considerable amount of history that is not studied in the U.S. schools unless you take an European history course in college. The story revolves around Napoleon's adventure in trying to conquer Egypt and the middle east shortly after the French revolution. It does not put you yo sleep but does not keep you up until all hours either.
19th century French colonial expansion in the Middle East by an ambitious general along with lots of wacky scientists. Very entertaining.