The Third Translation: A Novel

The Third Translation: A Novel

2.5 22
by Matt Bondurant
     
 

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Walter Rothschild is an American Egyptologist living in London and charged by the British Museum with the task of unlocking the riddle of the Stela of Paser, a centuries-old funerary stone. In the final hours of his quest, with six days left before his contract is up with the British Museum, Walter meets a young woman who expresses an interest in him and his work.… See more details below

Overview

Walter Rothschild is an American Egyptologist living in London and charged by the British Museum with the task of unlocking the riddle of the Stela of Paser, a centuries-old funerary stone. In the final hours of his quest, with six days left before his contract is up with the British Museum, Walter meets a young woman who expresses an interest in him and his work. That night, he invites her back to the museum; the next morning, she bids him a speedy farewell, and secretly makes off with a precious antiquity. When Walter discovers the theft, it becomes clear that outside forces have designs on his research, and his entire career - and life - is on the line.

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
"An impressive first novel about life and death and how we interpret each."
Matt Bondurant
"A luminous debut...an ingeniously literate and incandescent historical thriller that mixes linguistic cryptology and translation with gripping success."
Washington Examiner
Publishers Weekly
Walter Rothschild, a middle-aged Egyptologist at the British Museum, has abandoned his wife and child to spend his time obsessively poring over the dusty inscriptions of a dead civilization. He is forced to reconnect with life when he is seduced by a mysterious woman who then steals an ancient papyrus containing the key to the enigmatic hieroglyphics of the Stela of Paser. The conspiracy trail leads Walter to a modern-day cult of the Egyptian sun god, Aten, protected by a menacing team of pro wrestlers. In Bondurant's ambitious debut, a sprawling picaresque is infused with mythic resonance by linking it to ancient Egyptian literature and mythology and to concepts in avant-garde physics, including black holes, general relativity and string theory. The author has an inventive imagination and an ardent feel for place; much of the book is a prose poem to London's squalid demimonde. Though some may feel that Bondurant's erudition and philosophical engagement ("the only way... to make sense of the magnitude of the time and the space and the span of humanity on earth is to grasp onto the one thing that gives you a clear look") slow the pace of his mystery, the success of previous literary novels of suspense bodes very well for this one. Agent, Alex Glass. (Apr. 6) Forecast: A big push by Hyperion should give this a shot at major sales, though it's not the only mysteries-of-the-ancient-world thriller in the running (in this issue, see also The Geographer's Library, p. 222). Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
With time running out on his contract to decode an ancient Egyptian tablet, an obsessed scholar is seduced and seemingly abandoned by others with equal but less pure interest in the deep past. Bondurant's debut entry in the growing genre of academic crypto-thrillers considers the real-life Stela of Paser, an Egyptian relic held by the British Museum (and viewed there by the author). Cracked in two and missing critical pieces, the Stela has mystified scholars with its internal suggestion that its hieroglyphics, which can be read in two directions like some sort of early New York Times Sunday teaser, may have a third message for those clever enough to decode it. If anyone in the small and decidedly weird world of Egyptology is able to tease out the hidden meaning, it would have to be Walter Rothschild, an American scholar in his 40s whose facility with languages, monstrously huge intellect, and encyclopedic knowledge of ancient Egypt has led him to abandon his family for a life of nearly monastic scholarship in the deserts and museum basements where his passions lie. But the Stela has him stumped. With little time left to solve the riddle before being kicked out of his ratty but free digs in Bloomsbury, Rothschild lets himself be distracted by a friend who drags him to a druggy debauch. There, he's snagged by a pretty young thing who is so fascinated by his description of his work that she insists on being taken to his laboratory, where she slips into nearby historic duds, has spectacular but rather creepy sex with Walter, and makes off with a priceless bit of papyrus. To recover the purloined paper, Walter enlists the help of an attractive Sorbonne scholar in the employ of the NationalLibrary and follows leads all the way to Cambridge, where a rich madman has enlisted the assistance of murderous professional wrestlers in his search for sublime, ancient, divine experience. Then it's back to London for a lot of boff, bang, and pow. Archaeology outshines the action.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781401301811
Publisher:
Hyperion
Publication date:
04/06/2005
Pages:
400
Product dimensions:
6.75(w) x 9.62(h) x 1.25(d)

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