Sunday, August 31, 2008

REVIEW: Napoleon's Pyramids

Title: Napoleon's Pyramids
Author: William Dietrich
ISBN: 9780060848330
Protagonist: Ethan Gage
Setting: Paris, France and Egypt in 1798
Series: #1
Rating: D

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.

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