Sunday, September 24, 2006

Liar, liar, pants on fire

I just finished the Egyptologist and I must be careful what I say about. I want to tell you why I liked it, but I don't want to risk the fiery wrath of Steve for spoiling its tricks. I'll say this, the book has at least one unreliable narrator, and it is an homage to Nabakov's Pale Fire. There is a plot puzzle, but to be honest, it is not that hard to figure out. It's more about the idea of personal identity and achieving immortality.

The main action centers on a British archaeologist who goes digging for a possibly apocryphal Pharoah, while Carter is just over the way looking for Tut. At the same time, an Australian PI is looking into an Aussie soldier who went missing in Egypt. The whole story is told in journal items and letters. As the book is about identity and how we can create it, this form helps each character present their identity as they see it. The reader gets to see alternate views as well. I found the characters interesting and the ideas of the book engaging. And it has a great ending.

One thing that could very easily put you off is the character of the British archaeologist. He is insufferably superior and pompous. If that were all there was to it, I wouldn't have liked it. I kept reading, because I found him amusing and because I quickly realized that all was not what it seemed, which made it endearing. Or it could just drive you nuts.

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