Dreams of Empire

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The year is 1799, a time of dreams and a time of conquest, a time of discovery and a time of greed. Fresh from his triumphs in Italy, where he plundered Rome's treasures and filled the Louvre with the spoils of war, Napoleon has crossed the Mediterranean Sea dreaming of new worlds to conquer. His journey takes him to Cairo, the seat of an ancient empire - and the center of the Corsican conqueror's hopes for new glory. Marguerite Verdier is an illustrator attached to the contingent of more than 140 scholars ...
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1997 Paperback Grade: C Catalog: Romance Historical Synopsis: 248 pages. The year is 1799, a time of dreams and a time of conquest, a time of discovery and a time of greed. ... Fresh from his triumphs in Italy, where... Read more Show Less

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Overview

The year is 1799, a time of dreams and a time of conquest, a time of discovery and a time of greed. Fresh from his triumphs in Italy, where he plundered Rome's treasures and filled the Louvre with the spoils of war, Napoleon has crossed the Mediterranean Sea dreaming of new worlds to conquer. His journey takes him to Cairo, the seat of an ancient empire - and the center of the Corsican conqueror's hopes for new glory. Marguerite Verdier is an illustrator attached to the contingent of more than 140 scholars accompanying Napoleon on his expedition. She views the trip as a way of forgetting the charming philanderer of a husband she has left behind. From Scotland, Lord Elgin, the new British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, also sets sail for Egypt. What these travelers share is the desire for a new beginning - and a legendary treasure lost for thousands of years. The treasure is called The Woman Carried Away. Swathed in ancient myth and mystery, she is the stuff that dreams are made of. Rumored to have been stolen from a pharaoh's tomb, she could be Napoleon's grandest conquest - and he will use all the weapons at his command to possess her. To Marguerite, she is a tragic figure. Given to Cleopatra by Mark Antony, the Woman represents the sorrow and unrealized dreams of all women. For Elgin, she is an obsession that will not die. A primitive and elusive artifact, the Woman is history's most coveted prize - and he wants to be the man to restore her to civilization. But they are not the only ones who seek the treasure. Tallyrand, France's most powerful statesman, covets her, as does the wily Sultan of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Yet she is a prize that does not come without a price: Said to confer unusual and mystical powers on anyone who owns her, The Woman Carried Away also carries a curse that brings tragedy and destruction to all who come within her orbit.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781575661339
  • Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
  • Publication date: 2/1/1997
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 4.23 (w) x 6.79 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Introduction

In 1798 General Napoleon Bonaparte, a sallow, brooding Corsican of twenty-eight who had just conquered Italy for France, decided to add Egypt to the French Empire.

The military plan was to conquer and colonize Egypt, make a peace of sorts with the ruling Turks so that they would not enter the fray, then capture the overland route to India, thus destroying the English empire.

And so on a misty May morning in 1798, as a hysterical England awaited invasion by Bonaparte, the French fleet, an armada of four hundred ships carrying 34,000 troops, instead sailed south from Toulon, heading for Egypt.

Josephine, whom Bonaparte had hoped would join him during this venture, was not part of the traveling host. She had decided to stay in France. For her health, she said.

Little was known of Egypt at that time. Bonaparte, in addition to his military goals, planned to make a recorded history of the entirety of Egyptian history and civilization. One hundred and forty of France's intelligentsia, known to the world as savants but to the French army as donkeys because of the back-breaking number of boxes, crates, and trunks with which they traveled, arrived in Egypt with Bonaparte. They were to find and bring back to France bits of this and that, a mummy or two, or some statuettes, with which to amuse the populace and fill the Louvre, making the general a cultural as well as military hero.

This was some many thousands of years after the Pharaoh Shepseskaf learned that self-will and destiny often differ.

The success Bonaparte had known in Italy was not as easily repeated in Egypt. Lord Nelson, not so distracted by Lady Hamilton's charmsthat he could not smell a fox when it trotted, or more accurately, sailed under his nose, found and destroyed the French fleet as soon as the invaders disembarked on the hot shores of Alexandria, stranding the French invaders in a distant and dusty land. The young Corsican made the most of a difficult situation: he brought Cairo and much of Egypt under control of the French army with little help from his allies in France, who were effectively cut-off from him. It cannot be said that the other members of the Directory were grieved to have audacious Bonaparte thus amputated from the body of their own ambition.

Sultan Selim III, ruler of the ancient and now disintegrating Ottoman Empire, was loathe to relinquish his richest province, Egypt, to his supposed friends, the French. He slyly invited the English to come rid Egypt of the French.

And even as Bonaparte dreamed of the countries and monuments he would collect for the glory of France, another man of ambition, Lord Elgin, suggested to his English government that he should be made ambassador to Constantinople, to help direct the humbling and vanquishing of Bonaparte. While he was in the East, he would, of course, wish to collect some artifacts for the greater glory of England and himself. The latter half of the eighteenth century was a time of great collectors and great collections, which is to say it was a time of greed.

And so this story begins on a hot August night in Cairo, 1799. Ten thousand stars glitter in the indigo sky. Below them, in a hareem room shut off from the sky and the night with thick wooden screens, a woman stands, one hand on hip, the other on her forehead, in a posture older than the pyramids. She sees ...

Copyright © 1996 by Jeanne Mackin

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