Napoleon's Pyramids (Ethan Gage Series #1)

Napoleon's Pyramids (Ethan Gage Series #1)

by William Dietrich


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Napoleon's Pyramids (Ethan Gage Series #1) by William Dietrich

The world changes for Ethan Gage—onetime assistant to the renowned Ben Franklin—on a night in postrevolutionary Paris when he wins a mysterious medallion in a card game. Framed soon after for the murder of a prostitute and facing the grim prospect of either prison or death, the young expatriate American barely escapes France with his life—choosing instead to accompany the new emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, on his gamble to conquer Egypt. With Lord Nelson's fleet following close behind, Gage is entangled with generals, archaeologists, and mystics. And in a land of ancient wonder and mystery, with the help of a beautiful Macedonian slave, he will come to realize that the cursed prize he won at the gaming table may be the key to solving one of history's greatest and most perilous riddles: Who built the Great Pyramids ... and why?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062191489
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/24/2012
Series: Ethan Gage Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 383,037
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

William Dietrich is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, historian, and naturalist, and the author of eleven novels, including the Ethan Gage adventures. He is a winner of the PNBA Award for nonfiction and lives in Washington State.

Read an Excerpt

Napoleon's Pyramids

By William Dietrich

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2007 William Dietrich
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780060848323

Chapter One

It was luck at cards that started the trouble, and enlistment in mad invasion that seemed the way out of it. I won a trinket and almost lost my life, so take lesson. Gambling is a vice.

It's also seductive, social, and as natural, I would argue, as breathing. Isn't birth itself a roll of the dice, fortune casting one babe as peasant and another as king? In the wake of the French Revolution the stakes have simply been raised, with ambitious lawyers ruling as temporary dictators and poor King Louis losing his head. During the Reign of Terror the specter of the guillotine made existence itself a matter of chance. Then, with the death of Robespierre came an insanity of relief, giddy couples dancing on the tombs of St.-Sulpice Cemetery to a new German step called the waltz. Now, four years later, the nation has settled into war, corruption, and the pursuit of pleasure. Drabness has given way to brilliant uniform, modesty to décolletage, and looted mansions are being reoccupied as intellectual salons and chambers of seduction. If nobility is still an offense, revolutionary wealth is creating a new aristocracy. There's a clique of self-proclaimed "wonderful women" who parade Paris to boast of their "insolent luxury amid public wretchedness." There are balls that mock the guillotine, where ladies wear red ribbons at their throat. The citycounts four thousand gambling houses, some so plain that patrons carry in their own folding stools, and others so opulent that hors d'oeuvre are served on sacramental plate and the privy is indoors. My American correspondents find both practices equally scandalous. The dice and cards fly: creps, trente-et-un, pharaon, biribi. Meanwhile armies tramp on France's borders, inflation is ruinous, and weeds grow in the deserted courtyards of Versailles. So to risk a purse in pursuit of a nine in chemin de fer seemed as natural and foolish as life itself. How was I to know that betting would bring me to Bonaparte?

Had I been inclined to superstition, I might have made note that the date, April 13, 1798, was a Friday. But it was springtime in revolutionary Paris, meaning that under the Directory's new calendar it was the twenty-fourth day of the month of Germinal in the Year Six, and the next day of rest was still six days distant, not two.

Has any reform been more futile? The government's arrogant discard of Christianity means that weeks have been extended to ten days instead of seven. The revision's intent is to supplant the papal calendar with a uniform alternative of twelve months of thirty days each, based on the system of ancient Egypt. Bibles themselves were torn up to make paper gun cartridges in the grim days of 1793, and now the biblical week has been guillotined, each month instead divided into three decades of ten days, with the year beginning at the autumn equinox and five to six holidays added to balance idealism with our solar orbit. Not content with regimenting the calendar, the government has introduced a new metric system for weight and measure. There are even proposals for a new clock of precisely 100,000 seconds each day. Reason, reason! And the result is that all of us, even I--amateur scientist, investigator of electricity, entrepreneur, sharpshooter, and democratic idealist--miss Sundays. The new calendar is the kind of logical idea imposed by clever people that completely ignores habit, emotion, and human nature and thus forecasts the Revolution's doom. Do I sound prescient? To be honest, I wasn't used to thinking about popular opinion in such a calculating manner yet. Napoleon would teach me that.

No, my thought was focused on counting the turn of cards. Had I been a man of nature I might have left the salons to enjoy the year's first blush of red bud and green leaf, perhaps contemplating the damsels of the Tuileries Garden, or at least the whores of the Bois de Boulogne. But I'd chosen the card cozies of Paris, that glorious and grimy city of perfume and pollution, monument and mud. My spring was candlelight, my flowers courtesans of such precariously suspended cleavage that their twin advertisements teetered on the brink of escape, and my companions a new democracy of politician and soldier, displaced nobleman and newly rich shopkeeper: citizens all. I, Ethan Gage, was the salon's American representative of frontier democracy. I had minor status thanks to my earlier apprenticeship to the late, great Benjamin Franklin. He'd taught me enough about electricity to let me amuse gatherings by cranking a cylinder to impart a frictional charge to the hands of the prettier ones and then daring the men to try a literally shocking kiss. I had minor fame from shooting exhibitions that demonstrated the accuracy of the American longrifle: I had put six balls through a pewter plate at two hundred paces, and with luck had cut the plume from a skeptical general's hat at fifty. I had minor income from trying to forge contracts between war-pressed France and my own infant and neutral nation, a task made damnably difficult by the revolutionary habit of seizing American ships. What I didn't have was much purpose beyond the amusement of daily existence: I was one of those amiably drifting single men who wait for the future to start. Nor did I have income enough to comfortably support myself in inflationary Paris. So I tried to augment it with luck.

Our host was the deliberately mysterious Madame d'Liberté, one of those enterprising women of beauty and ambition who had emerged from revolutionary anarchy to dazzle with wit and will. Who had known females could be so ambitious, so clever, so alluring? She gave orders like a sergeant major, and yet had seized on the new fad for classical gowns to advertise her feminine charms with fabric so diaphanous that the discerning could detect the dark triangle pointing to her temple of Venus. Nipples peeped over the top of . . .


Excerpted from Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich Copyright © 2007 by William Dietrich. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Napoleon's Pyramids 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 436 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Dietrich has tried to create an 18th Century Indiana Jones (with, no doubt, visions of sequels dancing in his head) but, alas, in the early going at least he lacks the Spielberg panache to pull it off. However, if one can wade through the awkward verbosity of the beginning chapters - which only help the reader regard some of the early plot twists as ludicrous - the pace picks up in later chapters and one can get into the enjoyment which Dietrich hopes to provide his readers. It is as though it has taken half a book for the author to find his style - and for the most part,an amusing and pleasant one it is. Unfortunately, for this reader at least, there's quite a bit of drudgery at the beginning which numbed my mind to the point that I didn't realize I was actually enjoying the quite outlandish tale until it was almost over. If, as I suspect, Mr. Dietrich plans further episodes in the adventures of his hero Ethan Gage, I think they will be far more readable than this initial work now that the author has found the voice for his character, the times and the events encountered.
IslandQuilter More than 1 year ago
I use the Free Fridays to find and try out new authors. I was disappointed today to find that I could not get Napoleon's Pyramids as a free book. Not sure why???
Preserved-Killick More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this book, and for the first couple chapters I really did. But the plot slowed and just didn't capture me, and the characters were developed surface level at best. Doubt I go on with the series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Likewise, I also found the supposedly free to be unavailable!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you were a fan of the "National Treasure" movies, you would like this book. It has a great storyline and keeps you guessing until the very end. Of course, this is the first in the series, so you get into the story and must continue with the character Ethan Gage as his saga continues. I am definitely hooked!
msfanglet More than 1 year ago
If you like history, you'll like this book. All the events are accurate. The author weaves a nice story around these events. From the very beginning, I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. The violence is necessary, but not overdone (no gore). The war is just the backdrop, not the main event.
PJinSoDak More than 1 year ago
I found this as a Free Friday book for the Nook and thought I'd take a look. It was a fun read and I've since purchased the next two in the series.
JamieB63 More than 1 year ago
supposed to be a Free Friday selection....however, not showing as such.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Many twists and turns, interesting information on Masonry, characters you either love or hate. I did skip through some of the battles. The ending sets you up to want to read the next book.
bungelowbill More than 1 year ago
This book is a good read, but at times formulaic. An interesting look at the Egyptian Campaign that single handedly created Egyptology and the craze that continues today with Ancient Egypt.
kamas716 More than 1 year ago
It's a fun little romp. Historical fiction about Napoleon meets Indiana Jones and National Treasure. There are plenty of true facts, and even more fantasy. If you aren't looking for something deep, this could be a could choice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like James Rollins or Steve Berry you will probably like this story as well. It took me awhile to get into it and I didn't like the main character at first but he grows on you. I think that is the point though as the story develops he starts to mature as a person and become the hero he thinks he is. I will read others in this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Picked this up on the Nook's "Free Friday" some time ago and just got around to reading it. Now I'm hooked! A likable rogue, that Ethan! On to "The Rosetta Key", book 2 in the Ethan Gage series .... and 3, 4 and 5!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ethan Gage is likeable, and the attention to history is a big plus. But too slow moving, too long winded to stay engaging. Fun enough for a free or cheap read, but probably will not follow the series.
greyowlCT More than 1 year ago
My only problem with it was that it got a little long and tedious in a few spots, but the rest more than made up for that with action that pulled you right into the action.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a great story that covers Napoleon's attempt to conquer Egypt woven about an adventurer who (Ethan Gage) is the main character in the hunt for "The Secret". Couldn't put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm not much of a critic. I just know what I like or not. This book should be made into a movie. Great story. I did not like the ending, though. Now I have to buy the next one to find out what happened. Be sure I will.
pertelote More than 1 year ago
This book was in line with other styles that I've been reading and I wanted to check it out. I was not disappointed! Dietrich writes in a manner that captures the reader immediatly. Ethan Gage is a great character and I have continued on in the series. If you like Steve Berry's Cotton Malone series or even The Da Vinci Code, this would be a great who-done-it book for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This free friday selection is not free.7)
conrad101 More than 1 year ago
For some reason, this Free Friday offer is not free.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So only the sample was free for Free Friday?
glauver More than 1 year ago
This book, underneath its modern trappings of sex and violence to spice the plot, actually reminded me of a H. Rider Haggard yarn. The orthodox should be warned that the "solution" to the puzzle might offend their sensibilities. It is entertaining, but it does not rise to the heights of historical thrillers like those written by Owen Parry, Philip Kerr, Caleb Carr, etc.
Anonymous 6 months ago
Thoroughly enjoyed. Wanting to start the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lot history and action on the scale of an Indiana Jones adventure.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Stumbled upon the Ethan Gage stories and gave book one a try! Well it was a great find and a fantastic read. I enjoyed the mix of historical data and fictional character story lines. Looking forward to book two!