Tomb Of The Golden Bird Mass Market Paperback – Mar 6 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The absorbing 18th entry in MWA Grand Master Peters's bestselling Amelia Peabody series (after 2005's The Serpent on the Crown) centers on one of the great real-life discoveries in Egyptology—the opening of Tutankhamon's tomb in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. Amelia's husband, Radcliffe Emerson (aka "the Father of Curses"), has been wooing Lord Carnavon and Howard Carter to let him excavate in the Valley of the Kings where they have digging rights, leading his competitors to think there must be something worth unearthing in the area. The eventual uncovering of King Tut's burial chamber and its magnificent contents attracts a host of museum curators, antiquities specialists, government officials, reporters and thieves. The arrival of Emerson's shady half-brother, Sethos, desperately ill and carrying a secret document, further complicates a plot involving attacks on the Emerson family, Middle East politics, conspiracies and love affairs. Once again Peters delivers an irresistible mix of archeology, action, humor and a mystery that only the redoubtable Amelia can solve. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Coming into their eighteenth season in Egypt, Radcliffe and Amelia Peabody Emerson are witness to one of the extraordinary finds of the 1920s--the discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb. But after a falling out with Howard Carter, the family is barred from the excavation site. Then who should show up to increase Radcliffe's foul temper but his rascally brother, Sethos, whose secrets put everyone in danger. Murder, kidnapping, and political unrest are woven into the leisurely paced story, but matters of daily routine, recorded, as usual, in Amelia Peabody's personable manuscripts, take up far more time than mysterious goings-on, and Amelia's measured responses and intelligent approach (plus an occasional poke in the ribs to calm volatile Radcliffe--who remains a great source of comic relief) keep everything running smoothly. Be assured that Amelia, the matriarch who seems tied to Victorian convention, will emerge once again as stubborn and fearless as a lioness when it comes to protecting her family. It's a continuing pleasure for mystery fans to be drawn into the Emersons' unusual extended circle. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are a long-time reader of this series, you'll be pleased to learn that Ms. Peters has finally arrived at the discovery of King Tut's tomb ... which she has long been hinting was coming through Amelia's dreams about Abdullah.
As you can imagine, the greatest 20th century discovery in Egypt is a big event to cover in a novel. Ms. Peters had a challenge here: How much should she vary from the historical script? Ultimately, her decision was to embroider around the edges ... but leave reality relatively untouched. I think that was a good decision.
But obviously, making that decision provided some problems for this novel. It would have been weird to focus on Emerson doing lots of Egyptology. Clearly, he would have been hanging around with Howard Carter. At the same time, that also reduces the scope for various side plots. As a result, the story line is pretty thin in this one. In fact, no one would probably want to read this book just for the "mystery" and plot development.
But, there's good news. Ms. Peters has involved a lot of her best characters and developed them through action and inaction. So if you love the characters, you'll find this book rewarding ... especially if you enjoy the twins.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
For those of you who keep track, we have reached the 1922 season for excavation in the Valley of the King's, and a very important find is about to be made. Not by Radcliffe Emerson, unfortunately, but by Howard Carter. Emerson has strong suspicions about the location of Tutankhamon's tomb, but he cannot get permission to dig so he must watch Carter and Carnarvon instead, Because of his frustration he offends Lord Carnarvon and manages to get banned from the site. Infuriating him even more.
Presiding over this disaster is Amelia, as usual. But even this determined woman is confounded when her brother-in-law Sethos - one a tomb thief and not a secret agent - stumbles back into their lives in the middle of a malaria attack. Suddenly the archeological discovery of the century becomes the backdrop for a tense game of spy vs. spy, with no one quite sure exactly who is lying to whom.
And the real story is that of Emerson family themselves. Amelia has come to realize the there are only a few seasons left for excavations in an Egypt which has fallen to increasing political unrest. It is time for Ramses and Nefret to strike out on their own, and Amelia continually reflects on the fact that neither she nor her husband have the strength that they once did. But they remain indomitable, and I dearly hope that there are at least a few more volumes to go in this series. Tomb of the Golden Bird has both action as well as the details of the Emerson's madcap life that continue to make this one of the most entertaining of the 'cozy' genre. In addition, this volume is full of little details and insights into the Tutankhamon excavation and the politics of an emerging Egypt. I'm not sure of the accuracy of either, but they feul the imagination and keep the reader intent on the story.
Amelia Peabody's eminent Egyptologist husband, Radcliffe Emerson, is in a foul mood: he had hoped that Lord Carnavon and Howard Carter would give up and so relinquish the digging rights to the East Valley to him. But much to his chagrin, Emerson discovers that his interest has spurred the two to have another go at the site instead. Convinced that Carnavon and Carter have finally closed in on the site of the tomb of the little known pharaoh, Tutankhamon, all Emerson and Amelia can do now is watch from the sidelines and wait as Carnavon and Carter begin their dig. Unfortunately, however, events soon conspire to keep the Emersons fully occupied on another level: some rather desperate and disreputable people are looking for a man they are convinced that the Emersons are hiding, Perplexed as to who these people could be on the lookout for and why they would think that the Emersons would hide him, Amelia and her family begin another one of their investigations. And this time the stakes are high indeed, for these are ruthless men who would think nothing of killing in order to get what they want...
Mystery-wise, I'd say that "The Tomb of the Golden Bird" rates about 3 1/2 stars. The plot is not that perplexing and took a long while to gather steam and become compelling (and that ending was just not very satisfying). On the other hand, this was a very well written book, full of warmth, wit and humour. It was nice to read about Amelia and Emerson and their extended families (even if I got a little tired of Elizabeth Peters' continual rhapsodising about the good looks of Emerson, Ramses, Nefret) again. Which makes me wonder about the neat manner in which everything is tied up at the end of the book -- what does this mean for the series? Also nicely done was how Elizabeth Peters incorporated the historical (the Carnovon-Carter discovery of Tutankhamon's tomb) and political happenings (the Egyptian nationalists fight for autonomy) of 1922 into her novel, using them a backdrop for the trouble the Emersons suddenly find themselves in. Ms Peters' attention to fine detail is flawless as is her skill in vividly bringing scenes and landscapes to life. So that even though this was not all that suspenseful, it was, nevertheless, a very engrossing and enjoyable 4 star read.
Although World War I is over, the middle east remains in turmoil. Super-spy Sethos has come across a code that may point at some conspiracy that crosses from Iraq and Arabia to Egypt. A series of low-level threats keeps Amelia and her family on the edge. Meanwhile, Amelia's continual match-making seems finally to be frustrated. Sethos (Amelia's brother-in-law) can't seem to regain his wife's trust and Bertie remains besotted by the beautiful Jumana, but Jumana seems to have time for every man but him.
Author Elizabeth Peters continues her Amelia Peabody saga into a world disturbingly similar to our own, with imperialistic interests both battling and co-opting local nationalists. The discovery of the Tutankhamon tomb takes second place to the activities of the Emerson/Peabody family, as growing grand-children add both complexities and delights to both Emerson and Amelia. Fortunately, both are healthy enough to continue to enjoy their own company as well as that of their extended family.
TOMB OF THE GOLDEN BIRD lacks the sense of danger and adventure that fills the best of the Amelia Peabody stories. Although she remains active, Amelia is growing older and, perhaps, slowing down. Sethos, too, has gone from a figure of danger and mystery to a man suffering from malaria and love. Still, BIRD has plenty of moments of fun and portrays a fascinating time in history--both for its archeological importance and because of the upheaval in the middle east--an upheaval kicked off by the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I that continues to this day.
Fans of the series will definitely welcome this addition to the Amelia Peabody story.
Yes, it is definitely a gathering of friends and family, and yes, several loose ends from previous books in the series have been nicely wrapped up. But beyond that, Tomb of the Golden Bird is a realistic continuation of the lives of this amazing family. The characters have grown, they've learned, yet they remain a close-knit, loving family. The familial details serve as a fitting focal point to the story, not a distraction-- if anything, in this book, the mystery elements were almost a distraction from the family drama.
Elizabeth Peters finally tackles the discovery and excavation of the tomb of King Tut, and she inserts the Emerson family into the excitement with great realism. Family patriarch, Radcliffe Emerson, by virtue of one of his characteristic outbursts, manages to get himself, his family and friends banned from participating in the excavation of the tomb. Despite this, we still manage to get plenty of details about the excavation as Peters manages to find credible ways to insert the Emersons into the excavation without harm to historical veracity.
While I agree with the other reviewers that this book is not as strong as some of the others in the series, I am still giving it 5 stars, because Peters has maintained a consistency of quality throughout the series, and has also succeeded from keeping the familial and personal elements from becoming annoying intrusions-- unlike other writers such as Patricia Cornwell.
With this book, Peters faces the problem that has long troubled writers-- how do you have your beloved characters age gracefully and how do you allow for the fact that when you write a series set in the past, you have to include the historical elements that occur with the passage of time, no matter how inconvenient they may be? Peters tackles these things head on-- rather than pretending that the Emersons were the excavators of Tut's tomb, she finds a plausible reason to leave them on the outskirts. Rather than pretending that the political turmoil in Egypt did not happen, she involves her characters in the issue of nationalism and rebellion against British colonialism.
I hate to think that this is the last Amelia Peabody book, because I have loved each and every one of them. But if, indeed, it is, Peters has written a fitting ending to the series. Amelia Peabody forever!
This is not the strongest book in the series, for a number of reasons, Over the years since the series started with "Crocodile on the Sandbank" in 1975, Peters has added greatly to her cast of characters. Besides the original four of Amelia, her husband Emerson, his brother Walter, and Walter's wife Evelyn, there have been the Emersons' son Ramses, their ward and daughter-in-law Nefret, the Emerson brothers' half brother Sethos, their reis Abdullah, his grandson David and son Selim, the Emersons' niece Sennia, their American friend Cyrus Vandergelt (a gentle Theodore Davis), his wife Katherine and her son Bertie, and a whole host of English servants, Egyptian crew, Egyptolgists, etc etc.
In this book much of the time is spent just managing this unwieldy crowd.
Then there's the whole Tutankhamun discovery, which turns out to be due more to the Emersons than to Howard Carter, or at least that is what Amelia Peabody would have us believe. There is very little of the usual Peabody criminal intrigue. Instead we view the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb from the Peabody perspective, which is delightful.
It's sad to see the series end, but after all, Elizabeth Peters has given us 18 books since 1975, and back in 1964, under her real name of Barbara Mertz back she wrote a wonderful introduction to ancient Egypt called "Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs; the Story of Egyptology" (recently reissued in a second edition). She has been giving us pleasure in her many books for some time, and we will miss her.