I’m delighted to welcome a guest reviewer to the site today. Liz from My Favourite Books kindly agreed to review a novel that has been a favourite of mine since I read it a few weeks ago – Napoleon’s Pyramids by William Dietrich. Today is also a special occasion. It marks the launch of the new website for Dietrich by Allison and Busby. I’m thrilled that For Winter Nights and MovieBrit have been chosen to announce the launch. Do take a look and why not enter the competition that will give you the chance to win a copy of Napoleon’s Pyramids? As you’ll see from Liz’s review below, it’s well worth it.
Napoleon’s Pyramids is a historical action adventure set in the late eighteenth century France (Paris) and focusses on our hero, Ethan Gage, just as he comes into possession of a curious medallion that could either be a fake or something truly unique and ancient. When he is implicated in a young woman’s murder, Gage goes on the run with a friend, manages to lose his friend, but makes friends with a band of Gypsies, is found and rescued by an English spy and then, meeting up with his friend again, joins the “savants” journeying with Napoleon to Egypt.
On the journey he comes to Napoleon’s attention as the student to Benjamin Franklin and once it is revealed that he has this curious medallion the other scholars and students with Napoleon show great interest to help Ethan figure it out. But Ethan is hesitant. He knows there is something about this medallion that has caused his life to be thrown in such turmoil and he is reluctant to share it with all and sundry.
Of course, like many others, I know that Napoleon “went to Egypt” but I had no idea the scale of his ambition and why he went, dragging thousands of soldiers, hangers on and equipment with him. It was very interesting to see how Mr. Dietrich created a Bonaparte so focussed and determined to succeed no matter what it took. Here is a man that was born to be an adventurer, scholar and perhaps, a philosopher. Overall, Bonaparte struck me as more than just a secondary character in Napoleon’s Pyramids. Whilst he wasn’t the main character, his actions and his will, directed Ethan Gage’s actions.
For those readers who are fans of well written thrillers by Scott Mariani, Andy McDermott, Will Adams, Tom Knox and Steve Berry to mention but a few, will be more than pleased with Napoleon’s Pyramids. It is meatier in content than a lot of what we’ve become used to and it makes no excuse for being a very intelligent thriller, riffing on the Freemasonry legends that so appealed to society back in the day and making use of folklore and mythology and scientific discovery in equal measure with a good dose of occult lore.
The story is made more interesting by the fact that Ethan Gage himself is, in some instances, as clueless as the reader. Here is a character that is learning and putting the puzzle of the medallion together, along with the reader. Although very charismatic, Gage is a bit of a wastrel and a lost soul. serves as a wake-up call to him to stop wasting his life and get on with living it. Thrown in the deep end, he has to put up or shut up or die.
As we follow Gage on his quest, we encounter epic battles, murderous slave girls who may or may not be in love with him, historical puzzles, Pharaonic curses and yet more battles and hazardous escapes. You do not have the time to get bored of the narrative and the “down time” between action scenes are cleverly utilised to add historical layers to the story.
I’m a huge fan of action adventure novels and when they are done well you find yourself not just falling for the main character but also for the writer and you form this loyalty to him/her brand of writing. Well <places hand on heart> I hereby swear loyalty to Ethan Gage and William Dietrich. Thank you for creating such a great character, such a no-holds-barred story full of escapism, and for bringing history and the mysteries of the ancient world, into touching distance. Between Kate and I, you have two definite fans.