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The Four Quarters of the World

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great late nineteenth century African historical

    In 1866 Abyssinia, Tewodros II insists he is the Emperor of Ethiopia as the descendent of the Christian King of Kings. He envisions reuniting the empire under his rule, under the one God. He has established a large Takruries military force that is dressed very pretty and drilled in English but most not understanding the words so their is little discipline as following orders is difficult for most. He parades his clownish soldiers from one locale to another as a show of strength. Once his forces leave for the next stop his adversaries return. --- The Emperor has one capable officer, American adventurer Ravi, who through his raiding skills becomes Tewodros¿ top soldier and receives the royal treatment. Still in spite of Captain Ravinger Howland¿s abilities, Emperor Tewodros II finds his sphere of control shrinking. However, when Tewodros meets American Dr. Delphine Chambliss, he believes she is the reincarnation of his ancestor the biblical Queen of Sheba he concludes she has returned to bring glory to his rule. When Ravi, who believes his employer is insane, meets Delphine, he falls in love. As the country nears collapse, the lunacy of the Emperor and the protection of her defender the warrior Abou Bekrnow leave Ravi no opportunity to court Delphine because either man will kill him if he goes near her. --- As she did so superbly with the 1896 Kingdom of Benin (see HINTERLANDS), Karen Mercury does as excellently with 1866 Abyssinia. The story line is action-packed even before the confrontational stage is set and the cast superbly developed so that readers receive a powerful look at pre Haile Selassie¿s Ethiopia. Ms. Mercury, with two novels on her résumé, has moved to the forefront of late nineteenth century African historical novels that entertain while they educate. --- Harriet Klausner

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