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.
Dietrich is becoming a leader among historical novelists. While his earlier works were contemporary thrillers, his last two, the compelling Hadrian's Walland Scourge of God, took place in the Dark Ages. Oh, and he won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Dietrich's latest book takes place during Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Egypt. Amateur scientist Ethan Gage is an American living in Paris, enjoying the earthy excesses of the post-revolutionary city. After winning an ancient amulet in a card game, he is framed for a couple of messy murders by an obscure Masonic cult that wants the amulet. Ethan, raised as a frontiersman, manages to escape and join the large body of scientists accompanying Bonaparte's ultimately disastrous campaign in Egypt. There he encounters mystery, treachery, and religious enmities; fights in battles; and burrows under the Great Pyramid, all while finding love and solving the mystery of the amulet. This work is rousing, swashbuckling fun and proof that a good writer can make history not only interesting but an exhilarating romp. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ10/15/06.]
Adult/High School - "What if people didn't have to die . . . ? For an individual . . . that would make him master of all other men. For armies, it would mean indestructibility." Dietrich takes an actual event, Napoleon's 1798 invasion of Egypt; creates an amiable protagonist in the person of American gambler/adventurer Ethan Gage; hatches a plot focused on the enduring mystery of the Egyptian pyramids; and scores with a kinetic tale that expertly combines entertainment with intelligence. Augmenting his poor pay with his luck at cards, Gage acquires an ancient gold medallion one Parisian evening. Intrigued by its indecipherable etchings, perforations, and "two long arms," and suspicious of the interest expressed by Count Silano, a French-Italian aristocrat rumored to participate in the black arts, Gage keeps the artifact. This act unwittingly sets him on a perilous quest from Paris to the Egyptian desert, encountering Gypsies, Freemasons, spies, assassins, Bonaparte, land and sea battles, treachery, and love along the way. The final climactic scene within the Grand Pyramid of Giza is not to be missed, and the ending promises that Gage's adventures will continue. The Da Vinci Codecomparisons may seem automatic, but similarities go only as far as seeking the solution to a historical puzzle. Dietrich's work is more cerebral while sacrificing neither suspense nor action; think Indiana Jones meets the Discovery Channel. Fans of historical fiction, action adventure, and thrillers will clamor for this one.-Dori DeSpain, Fairfax County Public Library, VACopyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Forget the mummies-there's a really big-time secret under wraps in Egypt's pyramids. And whatever it is, Napoleon wants to unravel it. Actually, everybody does, but American ex-pat Ethan Gage has the best shot. Ethan's got the MacGuffin (in this case, a centuries-old gold medallion associated with the pyramids), which he won at cards. The year is 1798, the scene Paris, a place of revelry, licentiousness and maybe a little post-guillotine angst. Young Ethan is at loose-an apt word-ends, having completed service as a sort of right-hand man to Ben Franklin, gone home now to take his place among the Founding Fathers. Suddenly, thanks to his prize, the heretofore aimless if amiable Ethan is imbued with renewed energy, committed to a mission that will change his life. He must beat a path to the pyramids, tracking the medallion in the hope of unlocking secrets that will enable him to understand: (1) what it is that makes it so fatally irresistible (2) why so many insist that the answer lies in the realm of the mystical-that whoever breaks its code achieves a unique and awesome power as the result. Certainly, Napoleon is a believer, a fact that paves the way for Ethan to be on hand when the ferocious Corsican invades Egypt. As it happens, he is also on hand when the ferocious Corsican confronts Lord Nelson, a plot development that will give some readers pause. In the end-after a quest full of fierce fights, narrow escapes, betrayals by friends and enemies, a love gained and lost-the medallion's message turns out to be . . . Sphinx-like. Dietrich (The Scourge of God, 2005, etc.) is never less than authoritative, but when a storyteller's setting is more interesting than his characters, his novel'sin trouble.