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Tomb of the Golden Bird: 09/05/07

Tomb of the Golden Bird

There are very few novel series I read. Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody series is one of two series I follow with any regularity (Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt novels being the other). Both these series are ones I picked up as a child and have been following on and off since then. With both series having more than a dozen books each, I don't have the time or patience to read them in order. I read them as I find them.

Tomb of the Golden Bird piqued my interest more than any of the recent Amelia Peabody books have because it takes place during the first season after the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb. It's a time in history that I've done a fair amount of personal research so I'm familiar with the events and the people involved. When the scenes in this novel focused on Carter, Carnarvon and the tomb, I was riveted. Elizabeth Peters (Barbara Mertz) is an Egyptologist by trade when she's not writing mystery novels. In her more recent novels she seems to be adding levels of detail one won't find in the non-academic books: especially the rivalries between different Egyptologists and perhaps what their modern colleagues think of them. Unfortunately the bulk of the book suffers from the usual plot twists and excessive cameos from previous novels in the series that have ballooned the recent novels from 280 pages to 500 pages.

In an odd bit of synchronicity with my reading, Tomb of the Golden Bird and The Game by Laurie R. King (review coming soon) both build on Rudyard Kipling's novel Kim. Frankly, King's version is more in keeping with the original tone and spirit of Kipling's novel and the more interesting (though still flawed) version. Although Amelia and company do manage to sort out their roles in the Game, their actions are amateurish and their success is due mostly to luck and pigheadedness.

One thing I noticed in this novel that I haven't in the other recent ones, is that Peters seems to have realized her characters have gotten old. Although Amelia never admits that she is old, the glimpses of her from the "Manuscript H" bits show her as an older woman stuck in her ways and out of touch with modern cultural norms. She is still dressing and acting as if she is living in the 1880s when here it is December 1922. Given Peabody's status as a mary-sue type character, it's good to see some chinks in her (perceived) perfection.

Comments (2)

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Comment #1: Friday, September, 7, 2007 at 00:57:43


I haven't liked the recent books anywhere near as much as the earlier ones. I sometimes think I've become bored with the characters."

Comment #2: Friday, September, 7, 2007 at 06:13:01


I haven't gotten to this one yet--I do get them in order, and I still have one more before this one, if I remember correctly.

Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt books, though, I read as I found them until I finally had them all, and now I read them in order.

Of the two series, though, I think I like the shift to the younger generation in Peters's books better than in Cussler's. But then, I like Ramses. ;-) "