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Napoleon's Pyramids
Cover of Napoleon's Pyramids
Napoleon's Pyramids
Ethan Gage Series, Book 1
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"A frothy, swashbuckling tale of high adventure....Escapist fiction at its ultimate."
—Seattle Times

"It has a plot as satisfying as an Indiana Jones film and offers enough historical knowledge to render the reader a fascinating raconteur on the topics of ancient Egypt and Napoleon Bonaparte."
—USA Today

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author William Dietrich introduces readers to the globe-trotting American adventurer Ethan Gage in Napoleon's Pyramids—an ingenious, swashbuckling yarn whose action-packed pages nearly turn themselves. The first book in Dietrich's fabulously fun New York Times bestselling series, Napoleon's Pyramids follows the irrepressible Gage—a brother in spirit to George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman—as he travels with Napoleon's expedition across the burning Egyptian desert in an attempt to solve a 6,000 year old riddle with the help of a mysterious medallion. Here is superior adventure fiction in the spirit of Jack London, Robert Lewis Stevenson, and H. Rider Haggard, and fans of their acclaimed successors—James Rollins, David Liss, Steve Berry, Kate Mosse—will certainly want to get to know Ethan Gage.

"A frothy, swashbuckling tale of high adventure....Escapist fiction at its ultimate."
—Seattle Times

"It has a plot as satisfying as an Indiana Jones film and offers enough historical knowledge to render the reader a fascinating raconteur on the topics of ancient Egypt and Napoleon Bonaparte."
—USA Today

A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, author William Dietrich introduces readers to the globe-trotting American adventurer Ethan Gage in Napoleon's Pyramids—an ingenious, swashbuckling yarn whose action-packed pages nearly turn themselves. The first book in Dietrich's fabulously fun New York Times bestselling series, Napoleon's Pyramids follows the irrepressible Gage—a brother in spirit to George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman—as he travels with Napoleon's expedition across the burning Egyptian desert in an attempt to solve a 6,000 year old riddle with the help of a mysterious medallion. Here is superior adventure fiction in the spirit of Jack London, Robert Lewis Stevenson, and H. Rider Haggard, and fans of their acclaimed successors—James Rollins, David Liss, Steve Berry, Kate Mosse—will certainly want to get to know Ethan Gage.

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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One

    It was luck at cards that started the trouble, and enlistment in mad invasion that seemed the way out of it. I won a trinket and almost lost my life, so take lesson. Gambling is a vice.

    It's also seductive, social, and as natural, I would argue, as breathing. Isn't birth itself a roll of the dice, fortune casting one babe as peasant and another as king? In the wake of the French Revolution the stakes have simply been raised, with ambitious lawyers ruling as temporary dictators and poor King Louis losing his head. During the Reign of Terror the specter of the guillotine made existence itself a matter of chance. Then, with the death of Robespierre came an insanity of relief, giddy couples dancing on the tombs of St.-Sulpice Cemetery to a new German step called the waltz. Now, four years later, the nation has settled into war, corruption, and the pursuit of pleasure. Drabness has given way to brilliant uniform, modesty to décolletage, and looted mansions are being reoccupied as intellectual salons and chambers of seduction. If nobility is still an offense, revolutionary wealth is creating a new aristocracy. There's a clique of self-proclaimed "wonderful women" who parade Paris to boast of their "insolent luxury amid public wretchedness." There are balls that mock the guillotine, where ladies wear red ribbons at their throat. The city counts four thousand gambling houses, some so plain that patrons carry in their own folding stools, and others so opulent that hors d'oeuvre are served on sacramental plate and the privy is indoors. My American correspondents find both practices equally scandalous. The dice and cards fly: creps, trente-et-un, pharaon, biribi. Meanwhile armies tramp on France's borders, inflation is ruinous, and weeds grow in the deserted courtyards of Versailles. So to risk a purse in pursuit of a nine in chemin de fer seemed as natural and foolish as life itself. How was I to know that betting would bring me to Bonaparte?

    Had I been inclined to superstition, I might have made note that the date, April 13, 1798, was a Friday. But it was springtime in revolutionary Paris, meaning that under the Directory's new calendar it was the twenty-fourth day of the month of Germinal in the Year Six, and the next day of rest was still six days distant, not two.

    Has any reform been more futile? The government's arrogant discard of Christianity means that weeks have been extended to ten days instead of seven. The revision's intent is to supplant the papal calendar with a uniform alternative of twelve months of thirty days each, based on the system of ancient Egypt. Bibles themselves were torn up to make paper gun cartridges in the grim days of 1793, and now the biblical week has been guillotined, each month instead divided into three decades of ten days, with the year beginning at the autumn equinox and five to six holidays added to balance idealism with our solar orbit. Not content with regimenting the calendar, the government has introduced a new metric system for weight and measure. There are even proposals for a new clock of precisely 100,000 seconds each day. Reason, reason! And the result is that all of us, even I—amateur scientist, investigator of electricity, entrepreneur, sharpshooter, and democratic idealist—miss Sundays. The new calendar is the kind of logical idea imposed by clever people that completely ignores habit, emotion, and human nature and thus forecasts the Revolution's doom. Do I sound prescient? To be honest, I wasn't used to thinking about popular opinion in such a calculating manner yet. Napoleon would teach me that.

    No, my thought was focused on counting the turn of cards. Had I been a man of...

About the Author-
  • William Dietrich is the author of twelve novels, including six other Ethan Gage titles--Napoleon's Pyramids, The Rosetta Key, The Dakota Cipher, The Barbary Pirates, The Emerald Storm, and The Three Emperors. Dietrich is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, historian, and naturalist. A winner of the PNBA Award for Nonfiction, he lives in Washington State.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from December 4, 2006
    At the start of Dietrich's superb historical thriller, his swashbuckling hero, American Ethan Gage, who's living in Paris during the waning days of the French Revolution and was once apprenticed to Benjamin Franklin, wins a curious Egyptian medallion in a card game. Soon after, he's set upon by thieves, chased by the police, attacked by bandits, befriended by Gypsies, saved by a British spy and then packed off to join Napoleon's army as it embarks on its ill-fated Egyptian campaign. There the story really heats up. Once in Egypt, Gage finds himself beset by evildoers bent on stealing the mysterious medallion. As in previous novels like Hadrian's Wall
    and Scourge of God
    , Dietrich combines a likable hero surrounded by a cast of fascinating historical characters. Riveting battle scenes, scantily clad women, mathematical puzzles, mysteries of the pharaohs, reckless heroism, hairsbreadth escapes and undaunted courage add up to unbeatable adventure rivaling the exploits of George Macdonald Fraser's Harry Flashman. Readers will cheer as the indomitable Gage floats off in a runaway hot-air balloon, hard on the trail of his next exotic undertaking. Author tour.

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    HarperCollins
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Ethan Gage Series, Book 1
William Dietrich
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