most of you know, one my last-minute reading goals of 2013 was to
finish up Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody novels, which take place in
Egypt about hundred years ago and revolve around the archaeological
excavations of Amelia's husband, Radcliffe Emerson. Tomb of the Golden Bird is the last book in the series.
Elizabeth Peters always meant to end her Peabody-Emerson books with the 1922-1923 season and the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb by Howard Carter. Thus the book has a feeling of endings and concludes on a satisfying note, although Peters did leave the door open for future adventures.
One of the reasons I love this series is Peters's attention to historical detail and archaeological accuracy. Her portrayals of the real people (Howard Carter, for example), the Egyptians, and the way of life before and after World War I are fascinating in themselves, but seeing them through the eyes of the Peabody-Emersons is a real treat.
- What's going on? As Howard Carter returns to the Valley of the Kings to have one more try at finding an unlooted royal tomb, the Emersons and their colleague Vandergelt prepare to continue their own excavations nearby. Besides the excitement and professional clashes surrounding the discovery of King Tut's tomb, the family is drawn into plots of political intrigue, which put them in immediate danger.
- Highlights. I loved how the Emersons dealt with the press, who were eager to learn about the discovery of Tut's tomb and the burial goods found within. I especially liked their interactions with Margaret, considering their complicated relationship with her. I was glad that David returned for this final installment and to see how he sorted out his conflicting loyalties. I loved the descriptions of the finding of Tutankhamen's tomb, the artifacts, and the attitude and behavior of Carter's team. The only thing I'm not sure about, is where Sethos is heading; I don't quite see it.
- General thoughts. Tomb of the Golden Bird is heavier on archaeology and Egypt than some of the earlier books. Although I felt a strong sense of finality, Peters didn't slack off on the novel. She allowed her characters to continue to grow, age, and change and gives us a hint of their future lives. I'm very sorry to say good-bye to the series, but I'm grateful that Peters was able to complete it according to her own vision.
- Where to go next. I've already ordered a copy of Amelia Peabody's Egypt: A Compendium, edited by Elizabeth Peters and Kristen Whitbread. This is a nonfiction look at early-twentieth-century Egypt and the world that Amelia Peabody knew well. It includes numerous historical photos and drawings as well as some never-before-published entries from Amelia's journals. I may also give Peters's Vicky Bliss novels a try. Bliss is a descendant of the Emersons, although her story is more modern and involves the world of art.
- Final note on the audiobooks. As I've said before, these novels are meant to be listened to as read by Barbara Rosenblat. Rosenblat brings out the best of these stoies, and they remain some of my favorite audiobooks of all time.
Source: Bought (see review policy)
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