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Old 05-16-2011, 12:40 PM   #9417
ATDrake
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Finished the next two books in Elizabeth Peters's Amelia Peabody series: The Hippopotamus Pool and Seeing a Large Cat.

At a certain point, it seems like Peters realized she'd kind of written herself into a corner with the inordinately precocious child continually disappearing off for a few chapters before popping back up to save the day, not to mention a couple of repeated stylistic tics, and just decided to go with it.

One improbably talented and uncanny child whom the natives view with superstitious maybe-respect? Why not add one or two more?

One strange and uncanny cat of the ancient Egyptian temple type which the natives view with superstitious maybe-respect? Let's have two; in fact, let's have an entire litter of them!

Amelia repeatedly suspects people of being other people in disguise and then it turns out it was an entirely different set of people who were actually in disguise? Hey, let's break out the disguise kit again!

Another shirt ruined as buttons pop off in an attempt to rapidly remove it? Shirt-ruining scenes every five chapters from now on!

I actually kind of approve.

But then I tend to believe that when life hands you plot-lemons, you should stick a bar of zinc and a bar of copper into them, wire your makeshift electrodes up to the bolts of your Frankenstory, and scream "It's alive! ALIIIIIIIVE!!!!!!" in your best mad scientist voice as you turn up the juice.

Anyway, now that the books seem to have realized the utter existential absurdity of certain of the core elements, they seem a lot more relaxed and thus, fun to read, now that they're no longer asking me to take Ramses et al. seriously.

Recommend both. The Hippopotamus Pool had the marginally more realistic plot which will make more sense if you've read a previous book (The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog iirc) and actually has Ramses getting into trouble with his disappearance and not saving the day, for a change. And it seems to be the source of the "Queen Tetisheri" artifacts that show up in a Vicky Bliss book later.

But Seeing a Large Cat is actually more fun, with sheer over-the-top melodramatic silliness underlying the story, especially with the switching narrative devices. And it can be mostly read standalone, though of course it'll help to have read Lion in the Valley (though not actually necessary, since they recap the essential stuff), which was also full of sheer over-the-top melodramatic silliness.
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