Tuesday, August 7, 2007
So, I had been on a bit of a chick-lit run lately and wanted something completely different. I picked up Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich from the library, scanned the reviews and decided to throw it in the mix. I'm glad I did.
The story is set during the last days of the French Revolution. Ethan Gage is a young man who worked closely for Benjamin Franklin and is a bit of a cad. He likes whores and gambling, and it's during a card game he wins an Egyptian medallion. He doesn't know what it's worth, what it stands for or what the strange symbols on it means, but keeps it and trouble follows.
Soon he's travelling with Napoleon to Egypt, on a mission to learn more about the pyramids, and how his medallion fits into it all. Suddenly, there are people after him, who are willing to kill him for the medallion he's won. Even Napoleon asks of it and Ethan has to learn to trust a few unusual people to help keep it safe until he can figure out how to turn his medallion into a key to unlock a mystery he's sure involves the pyramids. There's huge battle scenes, a surprising love story and enough suspense to keep a reader interested. There are mathematical challenges, surprising revelations about the structure of the pyramids (all which are true), real quotes taken from Napoleon and insightful tie ins to the the Bible.
It's a bit like The Da Vinci code, and a lot like National Treasure (the movie starring Nicholas Cage). There are many people in the novel who actually lived, and Dietrich does his best to remain accurate to their life. Some parts drag, and some parts seem over the top, but it was a light, (albeit educational) read and a book I suspect has already been sold to be turned into a movie. If you love it, you will want to read his other works, move to Egypt and tour the pyramids for yourself. If you hate it, you will at least look at the Pyramids in a new (and admiring!) way.