The packaging of this audiobook says "performed by Jeff Woodman," and does he ever perform! Woodman executes a variety of accents in both sexes as he brings to life this rollicking Indiana Jones-like story of an adventurer in search of ancient secrets, and the woman he loves, set during Napoleon's attempted conquest of Palestine and Egypt. Woodman creates a memorable first-person protagonist in American Ethan Gage, who remains likable despite his many foibles, con-artist morals, frankly admitted cowardice and frequent use of annoyingly folksy similes. Woodman also pulls off convincing French, British and Arabic voices. His pacing never flags through the endless twists, turns and hair-raising escapes that make up this treasure-hunting tale. This enjoyable audio should be accompanied by a large bowl of popcorn. A Harper hardcover (Reviews, Feb. 18). (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School -A sequel to Napoleon's Pyramids (HarperCollins, 2007). American adventurer Ethan Gage, protégé of Benjamin Franklin, meets up once more with Napoleon as the French general is beginning his 1798 invasion of the Holy Land. Moving from Jaffa to Acre to Mt. Tabor to Petra and then to Alexandria and Rosetta in Egypt, Gage is never more than one step away from trouble. He is in search of his beloved, Astiza, last seen falling from a hot-air balloon into the Nile, and at the same time he is doing a little espionage for Napoleon's British enemies and hoping to find an ancient Egyptian scroll, the Book of Thoth. Gage's gambling skills, his knowledge of electricity, and his quick wits keep him alive in situations that would daunt a lesser man. He has adventures in love and war, comes close to solving an ancient mystery, and provides an ingenious explanation for the missing piece of the Rosetta Stone. Historical fiction meets thriller here, with plenty to interest fans of both genres. The action is nearly nonstop, the humor is plentiful, and the intrigue is more than enough to keep the pages turning.-Sarah Flowers, Santa Clara County Library, CA
Historical Novels Review
“Fast moving. . . . The descriptions of the myriads of cities and landscapes and cultures that Gage encounters are marvelous and filled with color. . . . The Rosetta Key is action packed, reads easily, and is ideal for the big screen.”
International Thriller Writers Blog
“An electrifying combination of battles, exotic landscapes, and colorful characters who really lived.”
“An utterly captivating romp. . . . Dietrich spins a merry magical mystery tour, winningly intricate. . . . It’s the history that grabs you, rewritten as a pulse-pounding cliffhanger action flick. . . . Mr. Spielberg! Mr. Lucas! It’s your move.”
Anacortes Now (WA)
“For lovers of stirring historical adventure laden with intriguing myste ry and puzzles galore, The Rosetta Key is a terrific thrill ride not to be missed.”
“The prize-winning journalist/novelist . . . brings back the explorer hero from his popular adventure saga Napoleon’s Pyramids for a fast-paced sequel in which he continues his globe-trotting search for an Egyptian scroll reported to have magic properties.”
Newark Star Ledger
“The Rosetta Key creates a satisfying blend of military and ancient history, adventure and romance.”
“Sit down, suspend disbelief, and enjoy Dietrich’s fabulous romp through history.”
“A full-bore thriller, and who better than Dietrich for an all-out romp with seductive characters, alluring plot, and dynamic historical elements?”
“The Rosetta Key is a fast-paced thriller that races between the Holy Land and the New World.”
“Entertaining and vividly evocative, The Rosetta Key is William Dietrich at his fast-paced, cliff-hanger best. For lovers of stirring historical adventure laden with intriguing mystery and puzzles galore, The Rosetta Key is a terrific thrill ride not to be missed.”
“Does the late George MacDonald Fraser’s irresistible anti-hero, Sir Harry Flashman, have some competition? We hope so.”
Anacortes American (WA)
“In recent years he turned to writing historical novels, successfully redirecting his knack for summarizing complex historical events quickly in clear, concise and interesting terms. His painstaking research and eye for detail allows him to bring characters and their surroundings vividly to life.”
Read an Excerpt
The Rosetta Key
Eyeing a thousand musket barrels aimed at one's chest does tend to force consideration of whether the wrong path has been taken. So I did consider it, each muzzle bore looking as wide as the bite of a mongrel stray in a Cairo alley. But no, while I'm modest to a fault, I have my self-righteous side as well—and by my light it wasn't me but the French army that had gone astray. Which I could have explained to my former friend, Napoleon Bonaparte, if he hadn't been up on the dunes out of hailing distance, aloof and annoyingly distracted, his buttons and medals gleaming in the Mediterranean sun.
The first time I'd been on a beach with Bonaparte, when he landed his army in Egypt in 1798, he told me the drowned would be immortalized by history. Now, nine months later outside the Palestinian port of Jaffa, history was to be made of me. French grenadiers were getting ready to shoot me and the hapless Muslim captives I'd been thrown in with, and once more I, Ethan Gage, was trying to figure out a way to sidestep destiny. It was a mass execution, you see, and I'd run afoul of the general I once attempted to befriend.
How far we'd both come in nine brief months!
I edged behind the biggest of the wretched Ottoman prisoners I could find, a Negro giant from the Upper Nile who I calculated might be just thick enough to stop a musket ball. All of us had been herded like bewildered cattle onto a lovely beach, eyes white and round in the darkest faces, the Turkish uniforms of scarlet, cream, emerald, and sapphire smeared with the smoke and blood of a savage sacking. There were lithe Moroccans, tall and dourSudanese, truculent pale Albanians, Circassian cavalry, Greek gunners, Turkish sergeants—the scrambled levies of a vast empire, all humbled by the French. And me, the lone American. Not only was I baffled by their babble; they often couldn't understand each other. The mob milled, their officers already dead, and their disorder a defeated contrast to the crisp lines of our executioners, drawn up as if on parade. Ottoman defiance had enraged Napoleon—you should never put the heads of emissaries on a pike—and their hungry numbers as prisoners threatened to be a crippling drag on his invasion. So we'd been marched through the orange groves to a crescent of sand just south of the captured port, the sparkling sea a lovely green and gold in the shallows, the hilltop city smoldering. I could see some green fruit still clinging to the shot-blown trees. My former benefactor and recent enemy, sitting on his horse like a young Alexander, was (through desperation or dire calculation) about to display a ruthlessness that his own marshals would whisper about for many campaigns to come. Yet he didn't even have the courtesy to pay attention! He was reading another of his moody novels, his habit to devour a book's page, tear it out, and pass it back to his officers. I was barefoot, bloody, and only forty miles as the crow flies from where Jesus Christ had died to save the world. The past several days of persecution, torment, and warfare hadn't persuaded me that our Savior's efforts had entirely succeeded in improving human nature.
"Ready!" A thousand musket hammers were pulled back.
Napoleon's henchmen had accused me of being a spy and a traitor, which was why I'd been marched with the other prisoners to the beach. And yes, circumstance had given a grain of truth to that characterization. But I hadn't set out with that intent, by any means. I'd simply been an American in Paris, whose tentative knowledge of electricity—and the need to escape an utterly unjust accusation of murder—resulted in my being included in the company of Napoleon's scientists, or savants, during his dazzling conquest of Egypt the year before. I'd also developed a knack for being on the wrong side at the wrong time. I'd taken fire from Mameluke cavalry, the woman I loved, Arab cutthroats, British broadsides, Muslim fanatics, French platoons—and I'm a likable man!
My latest French nemesis was a nasty scoundrel named Pierre Najac, an assassin and thief who couldn't get over the fact that I'd once shot him from beneath the Toulon stage when he tried to rob me of a sacred medallion. It's a long story, as an earlier volume will attest. Najac had come back into my life like a bad debt, and had kept me marching in the prisoner rank with a cavalry saber at my back. He was anticipating my imminent demise with the same feeling of triumph and loathing that one has when crushing a particularly obnoxious spider. I was regretting that I hadn't aimed a shave higher and two inches to the left.
As I've remarked before, it all seems to start with gambling. Back in Paris, it had been a card game that won me the mysterious medallion and started the trouble. This time, what had seemed a simple way to get a new start—taking the bewildered seamen of HMS Dangerous for every shilling they had before the British put me ashore in the Holy Land—had solved nothing and, it could be argued, had actually led to my present predicament. Let me repeat: gambling is a vice, and it is foolish to rely on chance.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I, Ethan Gage, have spent most of my thirty-four years trying to keep out of too much trouble and away from too much work. As my mentor and onetime employer, the late, great Benjamin Franklin, would no doubt observe, these two ambitions are as at odds as positive and negative electricity. The pursuit of the latter, no work, is almost sure to defeat the former, no trouble. But that's a lesson, like the headache that follows alcohol or the treachery of beautiful women, forgotten as . . . The Rosetta Key. Copyright © by William Dietrich. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.