Denise's Reviews > The Emperor's Tomb

The Emperor's Tomb by Steve Berry
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Dec 20, 10

Read in December, 2010

3.0 out of 5 stars A thriller that takes you deep into the history of China, December 20, 2010

I have read most all of Steve Berry's previous novels -- my favorite was The Third Secret: A Novel -- and I like the way that the author blends history, archeology, and adventure into a mystery thriller. The typical Berry novel is a cross between Clive Cussler and Dan Brown, and they are fast paced, quick reads.

In this novel, Cotton Malone and Casssiopeia Vitt (these characters most recently appeared in the previous novel The Paris Vendetta: A Novel) are reunited in a mission that focuses on China and a conspiracy that may prove deadly as there are those who want to keep an incredible discovery a secret. Malone and Vitt are brought into the inner workings of the post Mao government where there is a showdown between the two leading contenders (Tang and Ni) for that country's leadership role. Add in traitorous eunuchs, Russian spies, and trigger happy soldiers and you have a somewhat confusing story of cross and double cross. At stake is China's leadership yes, but also a race to verify that oil -- not fossil fuel as long believed was scarce -- but abiotic oil that is self replenishing and would never run out. What a find for China if true -- China that needs massive quantities of imported oil to run its industry and shelter its people. A Russian geologist has what he believes is proof that abiotic oil exists and was actually discovered in Gansu over 2200 years ago!! He is wanted by both the Russians and the Chinese and they will stop at nothing to get the verification they need. For if China doesn't need to import oil, it will no longer have to follow the dictates of the other nations and won't be held in check by threats of embargo. How powerful the leader of the nation that possesses unlimited oil would be. But no other country will find out! Is the verification they need hidden in the Emperor Qin Shi's tomb? The only problem is that the tomb has been off limits and sealed for over 2000 years!

Although the historical parts of the book were quite interesting (dynastic succession, eunuchs, important discoveries made centuries ago in China but kept from the western world) the narrative was somewhat disconnected. The point of view and the scene would switch back and forth quite frequently. I found the dialog more like an anthropology lecture sometimes and something that irritated me was the way the author wrote the way the Russians talked. The Chinese spoke English smoothly, but the Russians said things like "I not know" and "She gives to Tang who returns boy" i.e., skipped words, etc. Annoying -- I'm certain that any Russian secret agent would speak English quite fluently.

In short -- this book was OK but seemed more like a lecture in between unbelievable scenes of escapes and near death experiences. The fight scenes seemed to go on far too long and some of the transitions dragged on between bursts of action. Read it if you like to read about Chinese history and if you like spy stories and adventures. The conclusion was quite predictable.
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