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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another Exhilirating Ethan Gage Adventure, 15 Oct 2011
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This review is from: The Rosetta Key (Ethan Gage Adventure) (Kindle Edition)
First a warning; if you haven't read the preceding Ethan Gage Adventure, Napoleon's Pyramids (Ethan Gage 1), do so before tackling The Rosetta Key. Much of what happens in this second novel featuring Gage relates directly is a direct continuation of events in the first. In fact this book picks up immediately where its predecessor left off. Much of The Rosetta Key will be meaningless without knowledge of how Gage came to be in the predicament we find him in when the book opens.

Assuming that you are familiar with Napoleon's Pyramids and you enjoyed it then The Rosetta Key not only offers a continuation of the story of Gage, Napoleon, Count Silano and the Book of Thoth. It is also easily on a par in terms of enjoyment and excitement. Once again we find Gage dodging assassins, uncovering ancient mysteries, getting caught up in massed battles and sieges, romancing more than one woman and trying to save his own skin. It all rolls along at a fair pace and remains engaging throughout.

Its by no means a perfect book. It feels a little episodic at times, as Gage gets caught up in one adventure after another. Some ideas also work better than others; for example a hidden Templar burial site near Petra in what is now Jordan feels utterly implausible but a fictional tweak to the history of the Rosetta Stone feels pretty believable. The book also goes on rather too long. Like Napoleon's Pyramids this is partly a consequence of having to hang the story off real events, but Dietrich also spins the tale out a little too far. A final episode which takes Gage back to France, whilst it ties the story up in a satisfying if somewhat abrupt manner, would not have been missed if he'd wrapped everything up in North Africa.

These minor niggles aside, The Rosetta Key is still well worth a read. Gage remains an engaging reluctant-hero. The historical mysteries are interesting and for the most part stay on the right side of plausibility. The historical details are also fascinating but whilst its obvious that Dietrich has done his research into Napoleon's failed invasion of the Holy Land the book wears its learning lightly.

The book is also as action packed as its predecessor, and the various battles, fights and chases are all handled with aplomb. Whilst you never really fear for Gage's life (the fact that he acts as narrator tells you that he's unlikely to die even if the opening few paragraphs call that into question) Dietrich prevents the action from becoming too cartoonish and losing any sense of jeopardy. Although Gage's survival is never really in doubt all bets are off when it comes to other characters he meets along the way.

Ignore the somewhat cheesy title of this book that makes it sound like a Dan Brown or Steve Berry rip off. If you enjoy a good historical adventure in the vein of an 19th Century Indiana Jones I can heartily recommend this and The Napoleon Key and I'm looking forward to tackling the next Ethan Gage adventure, The Dakota Cipher (Ethan Gage 3)
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