Aaron's Reviews > The Alexander Cipher

The Alexander Cipher by Will Adams
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's review
Feb 02, 10

Adams weaves history, suspense and modern Balkan politics in his debut novel, which is centered around the various tombs of Alexander the Great. The hero of our tale is Daniel Knox. He was a well-respected archaeologist before some controversial event happened a number of years previous. Now, he lives in Egypt and makes a modest living as a dive instructor and leading tours in the waters around Alexandria. His quiet life takes another turn after he helps rescue a woman from the clutches of one Hassan al-Assyuti, a local dabbler in the underworld.

As a result, Knox finds himself on the run, seeking help from a French friend working on a dig in Alexandria. He ends up helping with the dig, placing him in the center of a race to find the true tomb of Alexander the Great, with possibilities in Alexandria proper, the nearby oasis of Siwa, and even in Alexander's native Macedonia. Area archaeologists know that finding the tomb will make a career.

The problem is that a wealthy Macedonian sees the recovery of Alexander's preserved body as an opportunity to bring about the independence of a Greater Macedonia, an area currently split between Serbia, Greece, and Romania.

Knox, like any adventure archaeologist, needs a romantic lead, and his takes on the form of Gaille Bonnard. She is a specialist in ancient languages and cryptography. The two are brought together as everyone seems to work together to find the tomb. Gaille and Knox find not only an interest, but an interesting in recovering history and a shared past that might tear their relationship apart.

The story is filled with a number of background characters that run the gamut to ruthless villains to sympathetic fathers, allowing for a realistic three-dimensional world for Knox to inhabit.

Adams does a nice job of including a plethora of information about Alexander, the Ptolemies, and Graeco-Egyptian history so novices will be able to understand the consequences of the search for the real tomb, including a belief that possession of Alexander's body will make any nation all-powerful. Personally, I found such information to be very interesting and a strength for the book, but those looking for pure action may find that these sections bog down the pacing of the plot.

All-in-all, I found this to be an enjoyable read. Those interested in ancient cultures will probably like it, too. If you are looking for the quick pacing of an Indiana Jones movie, though, you will probably find this novel a bit slow.
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Elizabeth Sulzby I'm only on p.248, but I found your review agreeable to my reactions. I had read another book by him already. I noticed a number of readers complained about the Daniel Know character, "not American," shouldn't be saying "wanker," "sod it," etc. It's amazing how strong ones background knowledge shapes comprehension, huh? I like to read real history, archeology, and also good historical fiction. This book ties together lots of other things I've read. Thanks for your review.

Aaron I am glad you found it helpful! It is nice to know that people agree!

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