Iowa City Public Library's Reviews > Napoleon's Pyramids

Napoleon's Pyramids by William  Dietrich
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's review
Jul 16, 2010

bookshelves: historical-fiction, john, staff-picks-blog

Think Indiana Jones. We’ve got artifacts embodying ancient wisdom, sought by militaristic megalomaniacs for sinister purposes. We’ve got maybe 400, 000 bullets aimed at our hero, none quite landing. We’ve got booby trapped archeological sites in exotic climes. We’ve got mysterious, evil villains repeatedly trying to assassinate our hero. We’ve got gypsy caravans, sea battles, land battles, spies, hot air balloon escapes, sandstorms, mathematical ciphers, vast conspiracies, sardonic humor, prison breaks, and a beautiful priestess/slave, whose loyalty is often in doubt. You get the idea.

When Ethan Gage, protege of Benjamin Franklin, wins a medallion in a poker game in Paris near the end of the French Revolution, everybody seems to want it, to be willing, in fact, to kill for it. This isn’t surprising, as it reputedly belonged to Cleopatra, carries a curse, and may be the key to untold power and wealth. Framed for murder, he finds safety, sort of, as one of Napoleon’s savants or scholars, in his invasion of Egypt.

Author William Dietrich clearly has done some research, and explains it all to us. While some writers might use terms like grenadiers and fusiliers, Dietrich explains the difference between these types of soldiers. This isn’t exactly Faulkner, but it’s hard not to like a book this exuberant. A sequel seems to be in the cards, again, just like Indiana Jones. --John

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