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The Ape Who Guards the Balance Mass Market Paperback – 1999


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Avon Books (1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380798565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380798568
  • Product Dimensions: 17.5 x 10.7 x 3.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 91 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,082,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
I was inserting an additional pin into my hat when the library door opened and Emerson put his head out. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Elizabeth Peters writes with an assured cadence. Her stories seem to unfold as though revealed in a handwritten letter and with elegant penmanship. Having read two delightful short stories set in Egypt I was ready to immerse myself in a full length book.
For the first time the clerk in my bookstore approved of my choice. She was a devoted fan of the Amelia Peabody series. I was sure to love it. Before this she had failed to comment on any of my bi-weekly mystery selections. I sensed I was in for something special.
The quality of writing did not disappoint. The archeology felt authentic. I learned a lot about excavating Egypt. The settings seemed appropriate to the times and circumstances. I even lamented the intrusion of industrialization upon gentler traditions. I was reminded of Merchant & Ivory.
The Emersons could have been so much more compelling. They are a liberally-collected rainbow group who would be welcomed and entertained at most sophisticated social events of OUR time, but would xenophic and racist Londoners toward the end of Victoria's reign been so kind to compatriots who had "gone native"? Yet it was the mixed backgrounds of two of the "children" that I thought could have yielded the most interest.
What was uninteresting to me was how physically attractive they had to be. Emerson's "steely arms" and "muscular chest"; Ramses' physical stature and attraction for women; David's appearance being similar to Ramses with "the long-lashed dark eyes"; and "strikingly pretty, extremely intelligent" Nefret was even blessed with laughter "like sunlit water bubbling over pebbles". Peabody herself was able to look good in any outfit while being the object of a Master Criminal's desires.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
A series as long-running as the Peabody books is bound to contain a few duds. The Lion in the Valley, The Deeds of the Disturber, and The Hippopotamus Pool all had their share of problems, but The Ape Who Guards the Balance manages to offend in a way none of these earlier works did. It has excellent sections, particularly in the interactions between Ramses, David, and Nefret, and the Emersons' presence at the botched excavation of KV55 was a nice touch, but both the central mystery and the key emotional events of this volume are wasted effort.
The mystery is not a terribly interesting one; the opening chapter makes it clear that Sethos is back and that there will be even more people creeping about in various disguises than usual (this is possibly the weakness of this series in general). Sethos I can handle, but the villain of this book was tiresome the first two times she popped up and is even worse in this round. Peters undercuts any feminist agenda she might have by inadvertently making a key villainess far less compelling than one-shot villains like Riccetti and Pesanker. Bring back Lady Baskerville, if you must, but no more of this!
As for the personal travails of the Emerson clan... the troubles foreshadowed in the previous book are hinted at more and more strongly here, and then the images of a fratricidal tangle over Nefret resolve abruptly in a way that might be realistic in life but is unsatisfying as fiction. Some people fall in love, some are revealed as latent racists who turn upon their loved ones in times of stress, some die, and some stay the same. None of this turmoil is terribly affecting-and this is in the tenth volume of a series I've devoted much time and mental energy to, a series whose characters are 'people' I enjoy spending time with!
I feel the series soared back on course with Falcon at the Portal, and reached higher still with He Shall Thunder in the Sky, but Ape just didn't cohere.
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By A Customer on Sept. 10 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have never written a negative review, but this book is the worst I have ever read! I cannot stand any of the characters. The author belittles the readers ability to understand plot without explaining every thought (and she labels it "clever" so as to dumb down the reader) as if we would never be smart enough to understand unless she s-p-e-l-l-s it out for us.
You probably wonder why I kept reading it. Metaphorically speaking, it was like a train wreck, or the car wreck that you have to slow down and observe (by the way, notice how I just spoke down to you because your limited intellect would have NEVER known that I was speaking metaphorically unless I told you!). I thought that nobody could be this bad at telling a story. You know, I was wrong! This book made the The Celestine Prophecy seem good in comparison (another book that I have issues).
So, I really feel sorry for the readers that think this is good writing! If you do, you might want to check out The Celestine Prophecy (very preachy and you don't have to think).
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By Emma on July 25 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the kind of book where if you read the first three chapters and the last three, you haven't missed much. Still an improvement on Amelia's last outing, I was wondering if these were the same characters I had grown to love. What on earth has happened to Amelia? Since when was she a racist and a snob? Her reaction to David and Lia was simply unbelievable and her comments about the nouveau riche and servants are irritating. If I can remember, Amelia herself didn't come from a particularly rich family - it was her father's shrewd investments that produced her wealth. Amelia has now become the stereotypical Victorian stiff that she ridiculed in the first books! I love the characters of Ramses and David, but I find it hard to warm to Nefret. The girl is just too good to be true! There are only so many times I can stomach reading how she seems to be "wreathed in her own golden light". In this book, in particular, both she and Lia come across as obnoxious and spoilt which hardly endears one to them. It would also have been nice if Lia could have done something other than turn up, faint, simper over a man, then go home again. Amelia was likeable because she was a strong woman who went against the ideals of her age - and using brains instead of beauty. None of the other female characters have even touched her yet. I am also finding it tiresome how nearly every single other supporting character in the book falls in love with Amelia, Emerson, Ramses or Nefret! Please, just give it a rest! But in spite of all this, the ending is worth waiting for, if only for the interactions with, and some revelations about the mysterious Master Criminal. And I even cried when Abdullah died.
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