Elizabeth Peters has been gathering and developing her characters in masterful ways for some time in the wonderful Amelia Peabody series. In Lord of the Silent, Ms. Peters reaps a rich harvest from that preparation in order to provide the richest fabric ever of plot and suspense in the series.
Lord of the Silent is very much part two of a series that Ms. Peters wrote about World War I. I strongly urge you to read He Shall Thunder from the Sky (this book's immediate predecessor) before reading Lord of the Silent. The plots and characters of the two books are so intertwined that you will not appreciate and enjoy Lord of the Silent nearly as much without having read He Shall Thunder from the Sky.
The book opens with vivid scenes from war-time England. Zeppelin raids on London create fear that foreshadows the massive Battle of Britain in World War II. This sets a somber mood of uncontrollable threat for the whole book that is admirably suspenseful. You will wonder when the next bomb might burst. In many ways, the plot's complications are like the effects of a random bombardment . . . bringing danger, fear, discomfort, and damage.
The whole family is in England in 1915. Because of the war, English people cannot cross the continent for travel to Egypt. Ocean-going vessels are the only choice. But submarine warfare is a danger, and neutral liners (like the Lusitania) have been sunk. Should they take the risk and go to Egypt? Who should go? The book opens with these pressing questions. What would you have done?
Part of the family does make it to Egypt, and find a land transformed by the distant war. The hospitals are full of injured soldiers from the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. There are rumors of uprisings among the Bedouins in the desert that are encouraged by the Turks and Germans. Many old friends are missing for the duration because they are from enemy countries. Thieves are opening unprotected sites and taking away priceless archeological relics. Graffiti is appearing in the most unexpected places.
Professor Emerson is focusing his attention on some noble tombs (mastabas) that Amelia finds absolutely boring. She yearns for a pyramid. Soon, events intervene to make life seem rather too exciting. Can she keep her family safe?
The plot is nicely changed by having Ramses and Nefret as husband and wife. Although they still hide things from one another, they do less of that. As a result, you have a better balance between the professor and Amelia keeping secrets from the younger Emersons and vice versa. This makes for a smoother, faster-paced, and more interesting plot.
As usual though, if everyone had told everyone else what they knew, the whole problem could have been resolved in about one-third of the time. But that's the way people really are, so you won't mind it at all. They are just trying to protect their loved ones.
Sennia (aged 6) plays a bigger role in this story. She shows signs of having great potential as a character in the future. Adding a third generation to the story gives the plot much more diversity that you will enjoy.
The classic plot elements of an Amelia Peabody novel are all here: Amelia fighting off attackers, unexpected bodies, hidden treasure, red herrings, Nefret healing people, mysterious manipulations from a distance, Ramses operating in disguise, after-dark trips into the native Egyptian areas, officials complicating matters, nosy females who are attracted to the Emerson men, men who are attracted to the Emerson women, help from Abdullah's family, and a prophetic dream of meeting with Abdullah. Everything you have enjoyed in the past, you will find in this book . . . except more of it.
The book's title is a reference to the description of Amon, king of the gods, who was described as Lord of the Silent. Here are some of his other characteristics:
"who comes at the voice of the poor . . .
who gives bread to him who has none . . .
father of the orphan, husband of the widow . . . ."
Most importantly, "though the servant offends him, he is merciful."
Even more than usual, the Emersons play a role that reflects an Egyptian deity, as they succor all they find.
After you read this wonderful book, I suggest that you discuss with your family the issues raised here about when communication and when silence are the best ways to help one another. By learning from the examples in the book, I suggest that you err on the side of too much communication.
Expand your horizons and your relationships as Amon and Amelia Peabody would . . . especially in dangerous times and places!