He Shall Thunder in the Sky (Amelia Peabody Series #12)

He Shall Thunder in the Sky (Amelia Peabody Series #12)

by Elizabeth Peters

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“Passion among the pyramids. Forged antiquities. A country at war. A camel in the garden. A cameo by Lawrence of Arabia. Add in Peters’s trademark intelligent plotting, engaging characters, and stylish writing and we can hardly ask for anything more.”

Cincinnati Enquirer


One of the most beloved characters in mystery/suspense fiction, archeologist and Egyptologist Amelia Peabody bravely faces gravest peril in Cairo on the eve of World War One in New York Times bestselling Grandmaster Elizabeth Peters’s magnificent Egyptian adventure, He Shall Thunder in the Sky. The San Francisco Examiner calls these heart-racing exploits of Amelia and her courageous family, the Emersons, “pure delight.” But perhaps the New York Times Book Review states it best: “Between Amelia Peabody and Indiana Jones, it’s Amelia—in wit and daring—by a landslide.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061951657
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/23/2010
Series: Amelia Peabody Series , #12
Pages: 656
Sales rank: 173,264
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

Elizabeth Peters earned her Ph.D. in Egyptology from the University of Chicago’s famed Oriental Institute. During her fifty-year career, she wrote more than seventy novels and three nonfiction books on Egypt. She received numerous writing awards and, in 2012, was given the first Amelia Peabody Award, created in her honor. She died in 2013, leaving a partially completed manuscript of The Painted Queen.


A farm in rural Maryland

Date of Birth:

September 29, 1927

Place of Birth:

Canton, Illinois


M.A., Ph.D. in Egyptology, Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 1952

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I found it lying on the floor of the corridor that led to our sleeping chambers. I was standing there, holding it between my fingertips, when Ramses came out of his room. When he saw what I had in my hand his heavy dark eyebrows lifted, but he waited for me to speak first.

"Another white feather," I said. "Yours, I presume?"

"Yes, thank you." He plucked it from my fingers. "It must have fallen from my pocket when I took out my handkerchief. I will put it with the others."

Except for his impeccably accented English and a certain indefinable air about his bearing (I always say no one slouches quite as elegantly as an Englishman), an observer might have taken my son for one of the Egyptians among whom he had spent most of his life. He had the same wavy black hair and thick lashes, the same bronzed skin. In other ways he bore a strong resemblance to his father, who had emerged from our room in time to hear the foregoing exchange. Like Ramses, he had changed to his working costume of wrinkled flannels and collarless shirt, and as they stood side by side they looked more like elder and younger brother than father and son. Emerson's tall, broad-shouldered frame was as trim as that of Ramses, and the streak of white hair at each temple emphasized the gleam of his raven locks.

At the moment the resemblance between them was obscured by the difference in their expressions. Emerson's sapphire-blue orbs blazed; his son's black eyes were half-veiled by lowered lids. Emerson's brows were drawn together, Ramses's were raised; Ramses's lips were tightly compressed, while Emerson's had drawn back to display his large squareteeth.

"Curse it," he shouted. "Who had the confounded audacity to accuse you of cowardice? I hope you punched him on the jaw!"

"I could hardly have done that, since the kind donor was a lady," Ramses replied, tucking the white feather carefully into his shirt pocket.

"Who?" I demanded.

"What does it matter? It is not the first I have received, nor will it be the last."

Since the outbreak of war in August, a good many fowl had been denuded of their plumage by patriotic ladies who presented these symbols of cowardice to young men not in uniform. Patriotism is not a quality I despise, but in my humble opinion it is despicable to shame someone into facing dangers from which one is exempt by reason of gender, age, or physical disability. Two of my nephews and the sons of many of our friends were on their way to France. I would not have held them back, but neither would I have had it on my conscience that I had urged them to go.

I had not been obliged to face that painful choice with my son.

We had sailed for Egypt in October, since my dear Emerson (the greatest Egyptologist of this or any other age) would not have allowed anyone, much less the Kaiser, to interfere with his annual excavations. It was not a retreat from peril; in fact, we might soon be in greater danger than those who remained in England. That the Ottoman Empire would eventually enter the war on the side of Germany and Austro-Hungary no one of intelligence doubted. For years the Kaiser had courted the Sultan, lending him vast amounts of money and building railroads and bridges through Syria and Palestine. Even the German-financed archaeological expeditions in the area were believed to have an ulterior motive. Archaeology offers excellent cover for spying and subversion, and moralists were fond of pointing out that the flag of imperial Germany flew over the site of Megiddo, the biblical Armageddon.

Turkey's entry into the war came on November 5, and it was followed by the formal annexation of Egypt by Britain; the Veiled Protectorate had become a protectorate in reality. The Turks controlled Palestine, and between Palestine and Egypt lay the Sinai and the Suez Canal, Britain's lifeline to the east. The capture of the Canal would deal Britain a mortal blow. An invasion of Egypt would surely follow, for the Ottoman Empire had never forgiven or forgotten the loss of its former province. And to the west of Egypt the warlike Senussi tribesmen, armed and trained by Turkey, presented a growing threat to British-occupied Egypt.

By December Cairo was under martial law, the press censored, public assemblages (of Egyptians) forbidden, the Khedive deposed in favor of his more compliant uncle, the nascent nationalist movement suppressed and its leaders sent into exile or prison. These regrettable measures were justified, at least in the eyes of those who enforced them, by the increasing probability of an attack on the Canal. I could understand why nerves in Cairo were somewhat strained, but that was no excuse, in my opinion, for rude behavior to my son.

"It is not fair," I exclaimed. "I have not seen the young English officials in Cairo rushing off to volunteer. Why has public opinion concentrated on you?"

Ramses shrugged. His foster sister had once compared his countenance to that of a pharaonic statue because of the regularity of his features and their habitual impassivity. At this moment they looked even stonier than usual.

"I have been rather too prone to express in public what I feel about this senseless, wasteful war. It's probably because I was not properly brought up," he added seriously. "You never taught me that the young should defer to their elders."

"I tried," I assured him.

Emerson fingered the dimple (or cleft, as he prefers to call it) in his chin, as was his habit when deep in thought or somewhat perturbed. "I understand your reluctance to shoot at poor fellows whose only crime is that they have been conscripted by their leaders; but-er-is it true that you refused to join the staff of the new Military Intelligence Department?"

"Ah," said Ramses thoughtfully. "So that bit of information is now public property? No wonder so many charming ladies have recently added to my collection of feathers. Yes, sir, I did refuse. Would you like me to justify my decision?"

"No," Emerson muttered.


"Er-no, it is not necessary."

"I am greatly obliged to you," said Ramses...

He Shall Thunder in the Sky. Copyright © by Elizabeth Peters. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Table of Contents


Exclusive Author Essay
The Emersons' Enemy Tally

One of the problems I run into when writing the Amelia Peabody mysteries is supplying a sufficient number of villains to occupy that intrepid lady and her formidable family. Luckily for me I have been able to recycle some of them; none of the Emersons believe in killing people "unless it is absolutely necessary," so many of their adversaries have lived to fight again another day. Recently I ran across a list of these individuals, which Amelia had made for purposes of reference, or for her own amusement -- who can say? There were certainly enough of them to require an aide memoir.

Lucas Hayes: Cousin of Amelia's friend Evelyn. When last heard of he was living precariously somewhere on the continent. "If he does not drink himself to death," Amelia comments, "some outraged husband or father will undoubtedly shoot him."

Alberto: Lucas's co-conspirator. His cellmate informed Amelia that Pietro had passed on "quite peacefully."

Mohammed: Son of the mayor of El Till and another conspirator. After their first encounter the Emersons let him get away, which was a mistake; he returned a few years later, as evil as ever.

Lady Baskerville: Murderess and adulteress. Amelia doesn't say what became of her; given her social status and her gender, it is possible she was sentenced to life imprisonment instead of being executed.

Count Kalenischeff: A sinister Russian, part of the Master Criminal's gang. Found weltering in his gore in the bedroom of a lady to whom he was not married.

Ahmed the Louse: Drug user and dealer in London. Found floating in the Thames.

Eustace Wilson: A murderer twice over, his eventual fate is never mentioned. He was turned over to the police, so one may suppose he was hanged, since he had not social position or enough money to hire a good lawyer.

Reggie Forthright: He tried to lead the Emersons astray in the desert and hand his young cousin Nefret over to a lecherous prince of the Lost Oasis. The last we heard of him, he was still there.

Nastasen: The lecherous prince. He was alive if not well when last heard of.

Riccetti: Vicious, repulsive dealer in illegal antiquities, killer and kidnapper. Sent to prison by the Emersons. No recent mention of him.

The Reverend Ezekiel Jones: Suffered from homicidal mania brought on by religious mania. At last report he had proclaimed himself the Messiah and was being tended by his acolytes.

Leopold Vincey, a.k.a. Schlange: Shot by Emerson -- in self defense, of course.

Bertha: Schlange's confederate, a brilliantly clever and evil woman. She stalked the Emersons through several volumes of the saga and was finally killed after she had murdered one of their best friends.

Matilda: Bertha's henchwoman. Present whereabouts unknown.

Dutton Scudder, a.k.a. Booghis Tucker Tollingon: His inclusion in the list is somewhat questionable. Anyhow, he's dead.

Colonel Bellingham: Murdered at least one of his wives and tried to kill several other people, including Amelia.

Geoffrey Godwin: Fell into a tomb shaft after a comprehensive list of crimes.

Percival Peabody: Amelia's nephew, "one of the few truly evil men I have ever known." Reported to have died on the way to hospital.


Sethos, a.k.a. the Master, a.k.a. the Master Criminal: Undoubtedly their most dangerous and interesting opponent. Guilty of kidnapping, attempted seduction, murder, and attempted murder, grand theft, petty theft, and continual aggravation.

The list does not include various nameless henchpersons, thugs, and thieves. (Elizabeth Peters)

Customer Reviews

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He Shall Thunder in the Sky (Amelia Peabody Series #12) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 53 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have watched the character from a baby to age 20 and everything that has happened in his life. His parents have aged marvelously. Elizabeth Peters is truly a gifted writer as she takes us through all these wonderful adventures with this family, both in England and in Egypt. It makes me want to travel to Egypt someday to see these sights. I love the way she mixes the romance and the adventure. Just can't stop reading!!!
Peabody More than 1 year ago
I have read this book countless times, and it is still just as good as the first time. Elizabeth Peters is phenomenal, her writing style is smart, witty, and clever. He Shall Thunder in the Sky is an exciting read. I totally recommend the Amelia Peabody series for anyone. Peters has a way of including romance in her books without being explicit which is refreshing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must admit that in THE FALCON IN THE PORTAL, after Nefret and Ramses have that wonderful romantic interlude, then she runs off with the chappy (Unfortunately I can't remember how one spells his name) I was terribly disappointed, I think that I even threw the book down and cursed Ms. Peters for destroying Ramses and Nefret. But However when i read HE SHALL THUNDER IN THE SKY, and in the end one just knows that they'll get married, I was So excited!! i jumped up and down. I couldn't wait to hear more about them.
Nodosaurus on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
He Shall Thunder in the Sky, by Elizabeth PetersThis is the twelfth book in the Amelia Peabody series. In this book, they return to Egypt for another excavation, but little of the book sees any archaeology work. World War I is raging, and events engulf our heros in intrigue and mystery. The Master Criminal is back, and has placed himself in the center of affairs. As it goes with the series, this book is more about the characters than the events. The main characters continue in their unusual styles to entertain us. Ramses and Nefret are maturing in more ways than one, and insert themselves into the intrigue that surrounds them. As events play out, we learn new and unexpected events and histories of several characters, including the past of The Master Criminal. This book was better than several of the preceeding ones and is worth the read. This book would stand on its own, except that the reader would lack a good understanding of the characters which provides most of the value of the book.
bookwoman247 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this book of the Amelia Peabody series, the shadow of WWI descends upon Europe and the world, including Amelia's beloved Egypt. The Emersons are caught up in the maelstrom and in the Great Game of espionage.As always, this was great fun!
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I would place this on the level of the "Cat Who" books, but nowhere near Sayers, Stout, Ellis Peters or Laurie King.However, it is a very readable book, just above twaddle level because of the Egyptology included. I wouldn't mind reading more now and then, but I won't keep them on my shelves.
Katissima on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Closely paired with Lord of the Silent. These volumes of the Peabody series cover World War I.
jennyo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lots of dangling plot lines from previous novels come together (satisfyingly) in this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Peter's Amelia Peabody books are wonderful. Each one better than the last. They make me want to go to Egypt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This storyline was a bit different from Ms. Peters' usual stories. It dealt more with the Emerson family's involvement during World War One in that part of the world. It would be unfair to give away most of the story here -- one must savor the expense and drama firsthand. To those persons, I wish happy reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
StylinSixty More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of series books and by the time the twelfth one comes along, more often than not the author has run out of steam; "jumped the shark" as they say. Not so with Elizabeth Peters. Her characters continue to mature and grow and are people with whom I enjoy spending time. They have their faults and I admit that I became so mad at Nefret in this one, that I had to remind myself that this is fiction to get to sleep! There is never a dirth of dire circumstances that Amelia and her family find themselves involved in, but my credulity is never stretched beyond endurance. I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys an author who respects her readers and seasons adventure with humor and warmth.
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Knitting-Nana More than 1 year ago
Ramses' relationship with Nefret works itself out in this installment. And this is one of the better plots.
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