The Dakota Cipher (Ethan Gage Series #3)

( 26 )

Overview

Ethan Gage wants to enjoy the fruits of victory after helping Napoleon win the Battle of Marengo, but an ill-advised tryst with Bonaparte's married sister has made that impossible. So now, with President Thomas Jefferson's blessings, Ethan and a mystic Norwegian, Magnus Bloodhammer, embark upon an expedition into America's western wilderness—dodging hostile Indians and a British seductress as they search for the mythical hammer of the Norse god Thor. The prize, which was allegedly carried to North America more ...

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The Dakota Cipher (Ethan Gage Series #3)

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Overview

Ethan Gage wants to enjoy the fruits of victory after helping Napoleon win the Battle of Marengo, but an ill-advised tryst with Bonaparte's married sister has made that impossible. So now, with President Thomas Jefferson's blessings, Ethan and a mystic Norwegian, Magnus Bloodhammer, embark upon an expedition into America's western wilderness—dodging hostile Indians and a British seductress as they search for the mythical hammer of the Norse god Thor. The prize, which was allegedly carried to North America more than a century before Columbus arrived, leads them across a landscape no white man has yet traversed. Here Gage's skills will be tested as never before—as he braves frontier peril en route to the most incredible discovery of all time.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Fast, fun and full of surprises, Dietrich's rollicking third Ethan Gage escapade (after The Rosetta Key) takes the expatriate American diplomat and soldier-of-fortune home to investigate the Louisiana territory, preceding Lewis and Clark, for Napoleon, who claims it was secretly sold back to France. Accompanying Ethan is Magnus Bloodhammer, a Norwegian berserker who hopes to find Thor's Hammer, a magic talisman of his people supposedly brought to America by Knights Templar hundreds of years before Columbus sailed. With the blessing of President Thomas Jefferson (who asks him to keep an eye out for woolly mammoths), Ethan and Magnus light out for the northwest, where their steps are dogged by vindictive British loyalists, hostile Indians and unlikely disciples of an Egyptian snake cult. The tale twists and turns like a spitted serpent, but Dietrich shows his sure hand as a storyteller, leavening a tale rich in intrigue and impressive historic detail with abundant wit and humor. (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Ethan Gage (already seen in The Rosetta Key and Napoleon's Pyramids) is a totally likable if somewhat lethal rogue in the grand tradition of high adventure. Gage will lie, cheat, seduce, and swindle, yet somehow he always winds up on the winning and right side. Accompanied by a somewhat mad Norwegian named Magus Bloodhammer, he escapes France after bedding a willing sister of Napoléon. Armed with an ancient map, Bloodhammer is on a quest to prove that a Viking utopia once existed in North America, and Thomas Jefferson eagerly lets Gage and Bloodhammer travel west to see what's there and what the British might be plotting. As always, Dietrich's dialog is crisp and the characters believable, even if the plot is an excitement-filled stretch including evil Brits and nubile Indian maidens. The descriptions of Gage's journey are breathtaking, as Dietrich richly illustrates the people and settlements of the Northwest and Great Plains. This fun blend of history and adventure makes for a terrific, fast-paced read as Gage once again winds up inadvertently impacting history. For all popular fiction collections.
—Robert Conroy

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062191434
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/24/2012
  • Series: Ethan Gage Series , #3
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 438
  • Sales rank: 335,269
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

William Dietrich is the author of twelve novels, including six previous Ethan Gage titles—Napoleon's Pyramids, The Rosetta Key, The Dakota Cipher, The Barbary Pirates, The Emerald Storm, and The Barbed Crown. Dietrich is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, historian, and naturalist. A winner of the PNBA Award for Nonfiction, he lives in Washington State.

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Read an Excerpt

The Dakota Cipher
An Ethan Gage Adventure

Chapter One

I suppose it's not precisely true that it was solely I who consolidated Napoleon's power and changed the course of world history. I did contribute to his idea of crossing the Alps and outflanking the Austrians, and then had to help save the day at the Battle of Marengo—but frankly, my role was somewhat accidental. Yet what of that? Enlarging one's part does make a good tale for the ladies, and while I, Ethan Gage, am a paragon of candor when it suits my purposes, I do have a tendency toward exaggeration when it comes to matters of the bed.

It is true that my timely service in northern Italy got me back in Bonaparte's good graces, that my affable charm made me instrumental in forging the Treaty of Mortefontaine with American diplomats, and that my raffish reputation won me a place at the glittery château gathering to celebrate that Convention. There I managed to get embroiled in the new diversion of roulette, was sidetracked into a tumultuous tryst with Napoleon's married sister, and still squeezed in enough time to almost be killed by fireworks. I may inflate my history to women, but no man can fault me for not keeping busy.

Unfortunately, my incautious boasting also persuaded a half-mad Norwegian to enlist me in a dubious and mystical quest a continent away from comfort—proof again that vanity is peril and modesty the wiser course. Better to keep one's mouth shut and be suspected of being a fool than open and confirm it.Ah, but the breasts of Pauline Bonaparte were lifted like white pillows by her bewitching gown, her brother's wine cellar had my head swimming, and whenpowerful men are urging you to share your exploits, it's difficult not to admit you've had a role directing history. Especially when you've taken your audience for a hundred francs at the gaming table! Pretending to be important or clever makes one's victim feel better about losing. So on I prattled, the eavesdropping Norseman with a beard the color of flame eyeing me with ever-greater interest, and my own eye on flirtatious Pauline, knowing she was about as faithful to husband General Charles Leclerc as an alley cat during a full moon. The minx had the beauty of Venus and the discrimination of a sailor in a grog shop. No wonder she winked at me.

The date was September 30, 1800—or, by the French Revolutionary calendar, the eighth day of Vendémiaire in the Year IX. Napoleon had declared the revolution over, himself as its culmination, and we all hoped he'd soon throw out the annoying ten-day-a-week calendar, since rumor had it that he was attempting to cut a deal with the Pope to bring back Catholic priests. No one missed Sabbath services, but we all were nostalgic for lazy Sundays. Bonaparte was still feeling his way, however. He'd only seized power some ten months before (thanks in part to the mystical Book of Thoth I'd found in a lost city), and barely won Marengo by a whisker. Settling France's hash with America—my nation had won some impressive duels with French warships and played havoc with French shipping—was another step toward consolidating rule. Our feuding countries were, after all, the world's only two republics, though Napoleon's autocratic style was straining that definition in France. And a treaty! It was no accident that the French elite had been turned out at Mortefontaine for this celebration. No warrior was better at publicizing his peacemaking than Bonaparte.

Mortefontaine is a lovely château some thirty-five kilometers north of Paris. Far enough, in other words, for France's new leaders to party in style well out of sight of the mob that had put them there. The mansion had been purchased by Bonaparte's brother Joseph, and none of those assembled dared suggest it was a tad ostentatious for the inheritors of the Revolution. Napoleon, just thirty-one, was the most astute observer of human nature I ever met, and he'd wasted little time giving France back some of the royalist trappings it had missed since chopping off the head of King Louis and guillotining the nation's lace makers. It was permissible to be rich again! Ambitious! Elegant! Velvet, which had been forbidden during the Terror, was not just permitted but in style. Wigs might be a relic of the last century, but gold military braid was de rigueur in this one. The lovely grounds were swarming with newly powerful men, newly seductive women, and enough silk and brocade to get the haberdasheries of Paris humming, albeit on more classical, Republican lines. Lafayette and La Rochefoucauld had invited every prominent American in Paris, even me. Our total assembly numbered two hundred, all of us heady with American triumph and French wine.

Bonaparte had insisted that his festival organizer, Jean-Etienne Despeaux, achieve perfection in record time. Accordingly, that famed marshal of merriment hired the architect Cellerier to revamp the theater, recruited a troupe from the Comédie Française to play a ribald sketch on transatlantic relations, and prepared the fireworks display with which I was about to become all too familiar.

Three great tables were set out in the Orangerie, in three adjoining rooms. The first was the Room of the Union, the head wall hung with a scroll of the Atlantic, with Philadelphia on one side and Le Havre on the other, the intervening sea topped by an airborne half-naked woman who represented peace by holding an olive branch in her fingers. Why the doxies in these European paintings always have their clothes slipping off I don't know, but I must say it's a custom my own more staid America could emulate. Next to the mural were enough foliage, flowers, and folderol to start a forest fire.

The next two rooms had busts of my late mentor Benjamin Franklin and the recently deceased George Washington, respectively. Outside in the park was an obelisk with allegorical figures representing France and America, and the whole affair was frocked with tricolor bunting. Rose petals floated in pools and fountains, rented peacocks strutted on lawns, and artillery banged salutes. It seemed to me that Despeaux had earned his money, and that I, finally, was among

The Dakota Cipher
An Ethan Gage Adventure
. Copyright (c) by William Dietrich . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 26 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 27 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    fast-paced historical thriller

    Ethan Gage is enjoying his stay in Paris as Napoleon has forgiven him for the Battle at Acre. His goal is to enjoy the Emperor¿s married sister Pauline. However, after spending a delightful night with Pauline, thugs kidnap Ethan and tie him up to some fireworks. Thanks to melted chocolate in his sleeves and luck, he escapes and looks like a hero to the crowd as he appears to be holding the torch of liberty during the gala. With Pauline¿s help, accompanied by Norwegian freedom fighter Magnus Bloodhammer, who seeks Thor¿s Hammer to free his people from the Danes, he escapes to America.<BR/><BR/>The French who reclaimed the Louisiana Territory and President Jefferson want Gage to explore beyond the Great Lakes. A reluctant Ethan and Magnus begin the journey from DC to Detroit and from there across the Great Lakes towards the un-chartered Northwest in search of blue eyed light skin Indians, woolly mammoths and Thor's Hammer; allegedly brought by Knights Templar in the fourteenth century. <BR/><BR/>This fast-paced historical thriller engages readers from the moment that Ethan knows it is time to say au revoir and never slows down as he and the Odin look alike Magnus make the westward journey before Lewis and Clark. The story line is filled with action even when Ethan has them resting in New York waiting for the election of 1800 to be decided. The contrast between Magnus and Ethan is incredible as the former is dedicated to his quest and the memory of his beloved late wife while the latter is dedicated to the woman of the moment; in fact Gage¿s womanizing gets him into one dangerous predicament after another whether it is in France or on the Great Lakes and beyond. Readers will relish his coming home escapades while newcomers will seek his previous adventures overseas (see NAPOLEON¿S PYRAMID and THE ROSETTA KEY).<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2014

    Not as good as prior books in the series. History is muddled. Ga

    Not as good as prior books in the series. History is muddled. Gage has become almost a cartoon character. Maybe the return of Astiza
    will get the series back on track.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    GOOD BUT A BIT TRITE Ethan Gage is the same self-serving, womani

    GOOD BUT A BIT TRITE
    Ethan Gage is the same self-serving, womanizing, arrogant rogue with the saving grace of a self deprecating sense of humor. He is also sufficiently cunning, resourceful and practical to usually successfully juggle his often conflicting assignments and loyalties to the United States, England and France. In this novel, he is pursuing the interests of all three as well as his own as he explores the Louisiana Purchase and searches for the legendary Thor’s Hammer. However, I found it a bit harder to bond with him in this novel as he struck me as somewhat shallow and deficient. As someone of Native American heritage, I also found the perception of all Indians overwhelmed by the encroachment of European culture as having become depraved, and all those that had yet to be contaminated as being noble savages to be a bit trite.

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  • Posted September 9, 2012

    Not for the swift of mind

    Readers:
    This series is not bad; if you are about 15 yrs old. It is"Indeannia(sic)Jones & "Pirates ect" in one lump.
    A good, quick read- but there are better books out there.
    CSAnthony

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Bringin' it home

    The continuing adventures of Ethan Gage continue to impress and excite. After tackling Egyptian mysticism, ancient relics and secret societies connected with the Great Pyramid, Jerusalem and other historic sites in Napoleon's Pyramids and The Rosetta Key, I didn't think it possible for another sequel to be as exciting - especially one that took place in boring old America. But I was so wrong.

    More than the simple enjoyment of spending time with old friends, like Jefferson, Naploeon, and Lewis and Clark, The Dakota Cipher brings it all home, managing to infuse the unexplored American frontier with the same mystery and exotic intrigue Dietrich worked into the previous Ethan Gage novels. This time, the Templars still make an indirect appearance, but it's all about the Vikings here, as Gage teams up with a Norseman on a quest to the American interior looking for the ancient Norse artifact, the hammer of Thor himself. Working from an actual historical basis, of Nordic rune stones discovered in Minnesota dating back to before the time of Columbus, The Dakota Cipher leads us on an adventure of discovery. And along the way we can expect even more of Gage's signature humor and wit, bad luck and womanizing that we've come to love. Thoroughly enjoyable, right through the electrifying conclusion.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    The saga continues.

    Once again William Dietrich tells the continuing tale of the adventures of Ethan Gage. In this story Gage embarks, as an emissary of President Thomas Jefferson, on an exploration of the west, along with a handful of interesting companions, some friends, and some enemies. The plot revolves around the concept that Danish explorers were among the first to explore the interior of what is now the United States.
    Dietrich does a great job with plot and characterization and spins a highly enjoyable yarn, although Gage's amorous ambitions are becoming a little overdone. I hope that Dietrich will continue to regale us with the adventures of Ethan Gage, and I look forward to the next book. This book will make a great summertime read relaxed in a chair on your patio or sitting on the beach. I recommend this book, it's a fun read.

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