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At the start of Dietrich's superb historical thriller, his swashbuckling hero, American Ethan Gage, who's living in Paris during the waning days of the French Revolution and was once apprenticed to Benjamin Franklin, wins a curious Egyptian medallion in a card game. Soon after, he's set upon by thieves, chased by the police, attacked by bandits, befriended by Gypsies, saved by a British spy and then packed off to join Napoleon's army as it embarks on its ill-fated Egyptian campaign. There the story really heats up. Once in Egypt, Gage finds himself beset by evildoers bent on stealing the mysterious medallion. As in previous novels like Hadrian's Walland Scourge of God, Dietrich combines a likable hero surrounded by a cast of fascinating historical characters. Riveting battle scenes, scantily clad women, mathematical puzzles, mysteries of the pharaohs, reckless heroism, hairsbreadth escapes and undaunted courage add up to unbeatable adventure rivaling the exploits of George Macdonald Fraser's Harry Flashman. Readers will cheer as the indomitable Gage floats off in a runaway hot-air balloon, hard on the trail of his next exotic undertaking. Author tour. (Feb.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.