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Pharaoh (Jack Howard Series Book 7) Kindle Edition
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|Length: 482 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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I enjoyed this book; good rousing action adventure. I would have liked more set in the time of Akhenaten, but that's just me. The storyline from the time of General Gordon and the Khartoum siege, and the current timeline were very well woven together, and you felt you were really along for the ride. It's a great adventure, and that's what you sign up for with one of these books. I look forward very much to the next book, which I hope will follow on from the end of this one - no more for risk of spoilers, but the ending was very enticing for future adventures.
Following an introduction set in ancient Egypt, the novel is divided between modern day Egypt and Sudan and its Victorian past, when the British army was attempting to float or drag a small armada of boats through the cataracts of the Nile into the Sudan. They were in the perfectly awful position to be picked off one by one by the snipers of the Mahdi. Luckily for the British, they have with them the sharpest shooter of them all, Mayne, who, with his Native American scout Charrière, is on a mission from highest command to reach General Gordon. Mayne's fascination for ancient Egypt has to take second place. Almost a century and a half later, Jack Howard and his good friend and colleague Costas are on the trail of Akhenaten, along this same stretch of Nile, now mostly inundated since the construction of the Aswan Dam. They pick up the scent of Mayne.
Jack and Costas, as always, are thoroughly good company. Their humour and ease together is matched only by their bravery and by their expertise. In previous novels, Jack's lengthy (albeit very interesting) explanations of archaeological and historical details can cause the action of the stories to flounder but here that is not the case. The archaeological diving scenes are so well done, perfectly capturing the thrill, danger and claustrophobia. What takes precedent here, though, is Mayne's story and it is so exciting and gripping, I could not stand to put the novel down. This is a period of British and Egyptian history I know next to nothing about but Gibbins here brings it to life, intensifying how almost alien this environment must have felt to the British (and American) soldiers dragging the boats through the crocodile-infested waters by bringing in glimpses and clues to the exotic ancient history that surrounded these men on their dangerous journey.
The Battle of Abu Klea is included here and I recall very few battle scenes I have read that are as intense as this one, if any. I was actually shocked by it and totally absorbed. Mayne is a fine creation but so too is General Gordon. We meet other famous men such as Kitchener but General Gordon comes alive in a way I wasn't expecting.
Pharaoh is a superb novel. When I finished it, I remarked that I would have love to have read another 500 pages. Fortunately, the story will continue in Pyramid and I am guessing that this sequel will be much more focused on Howard and Costas (in extremis, no doubt).This seventh Jack Howard novel is most definitely the finest amongst a series of great books. Put aside your assumptions of what a thriller should be and instead immerse yourself in one of the best historical adventures you'll read this year. I'm grateful for the review copy.
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