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Old 05-20-2011, 07:26 PM   #9463
ATDrake
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Read Ancient Egypt on 5 Deben a Day, one in Thames & Hudson's entertaining series of historical faux-travel guides. This one is ostensibly set in the reign of Ramses II, though there's reference to past and future famous rulers.

Lots of fun, and written by some university professor whose name I can't recall, having returned it to the library. The author note in the back did a dedication to a number of people whom I assume are Egyptologically related, including Barbara Mertz, who writes as Elizabeth Peters.

If you've ever wanted to know where to go and what to see and what to get in ancient Egypt (hint: monkeys only make good souvenirs for hated enemies), as well as useful phrases such as "Does this loincloth make me look fat?" and "Truthfully, I'm afraid of mummies", then this is a book you need. Highly recommended.

"Truthfully, I'm afraid of mummies" might have actually been a useful phrase for Vicky Bliss in The Laughter of Dead Kings, 6th and currently final volume in the series. I started this awhile ago, but put it on hold to read up on the Amelia Peabody series first, since they were supposed to be connected and this was another Bliss adventure having to do with Egypt.

It turns out that the connection that I thought would be made actually took a rather different form which was mildly surprising. But it's a bit open ended, since that particular "group" seems to have a suspicious number of the telltale artifacts in question, unless copies were made and passed out to everyone in the other "groups" as well.

Also a couple of other callbacks to the Peabody books, with a swordfight (and a rotund maybe-ancestor of the same surname possessing dueling scars having popped up in the Peabodys) and Peters kind of writing herself into the story with a scene where she pretends to be an obsessed novelist tracking down Amelia's journals so that she can "retell" the adventures in fictionalized form.

In the front there's a note about the sliding timeline and all the technological advances that have been invented since then which have to be accounted for in order to keep the Bliss books "current" since they're meant to be contemporary rather than historical. Even though this is the first time that e-mail etc. have shown up in the series, I think the advances have been incorporated fairly well, and I'd have never really noticed a transition if the author hadn't pointed it out.

As for certain character developments advanced in the book, I can only hope that if there's a next in the series, they don't go the cheap sentimental route. I was just as "WTF are you on about?" as party approached was, and I'll be more than happy if the established-and-gradually-evolved-over-previous-books works-well-enough-for-me status quo is maintained and maybe mildly advanced, but without any sudden drastic changes.

Another nicely-done heist-caper mystery with a surprising but logical whodunnit and high entertainment value. But this time you really do have to have read at least two of the previous books to fully appreciate the story (Trojan Gold and Night Train to Memphis). Recommended as usual.

And now from one Barbara who occasionally writes historical mysteries under a pseudonym to another Barbara who occasionally writes historical mysteries under a pseudonym, onto Barbara Hambly's The Shirt on His Back, 10th in her excellent Benjamin January series set in antebellum New Orleans. Though technically, this one wanders out of antebellum New Orleans for very good and entertaining reasons.
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