Venice: Ethan Gage has escaped after surviving the naval battle of Trafalgar. His plan: to circumvent the French Empire and rescue his wife, Astiza, and son, Harry, from imprisonment by a ruthless mystic who seeks revenge for disfigurement, and from an evil dwarf alchemist who experiments with the occult on Prague's Golden Lane.Read more...
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Venice: Ethan Gage has escaped after surviving the naval battle of Trafalgar. His plan: to circumvent the French Empire and rescue his wife, Astiza, and son, Harry, from imprisonment by a ruthless mystic who seeks revenge for disfigurement, and from an evil dwarf alchemist who experiments with the occult on Prague's Golden Lane.
Using death as his ruse, Gage seeks an unlikely ally in the Jewish Napoleonic soldier Gideon Mandel, who saves Ethan's life at Austerlitz, and Gideon's father, Aaron, a rabbi whose knowledge of the legends of the Golem adds another layer to the hunt for the Brazen Head. The three must decipher clues from Durendal, the sword of Roland. Meanwhile, Astiza uses her own research to concoct an explosive escape and find a lost tomb, with their tormentors in relentless pursuit.
William Dietrich skillfully weaves intrigue, magic, romance, and danger in a historical thriller that sprints from the fury of the Napoleonic wars to the mystical puzzles of Central Europe--where a medieval machine promises power over the future.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-09-01
- Reviewer: Staff
Dietrich's seventh Ethan Gage adventure (after 2013's The Barbed Crown) delivers more of the usual action-packed, at times implausible, intrigue with little character development. In November 1805, Gage, who describes himself as the "American sharpshooter, savant of electricity, treasure hunter, spy, diplomat, and mercenary," is believed dead after the Battle of Trafalgar. In fact, he's in Venice, posing as Hieronymus Franklin, a "distant cousin of Benjamin." Almost a year after last seeing his wife, Astiza, and their four-year-old son, Horus, Gage is understandably preoccupied with finding them, especially after learning that Astiza may be burned as a witch. The narrative switches perspectives between husband and wife; Astiza's sections detail her struggle to stay alive and to locate a "mechanical man, or ‘android,'" built by 13th-century scholar Albertus Magnus and able to predict the future, which she could use as a bargaining chip. Gage's flippancy makes it hard to invest in the battle scenes, and the prose is sometimes labored (e.g., "As with all grand and venerable castles, the agglomeration of architecture at Ceský Krumov is haunted"). Agent: Andrew Stuart, Stuart Agency. (May)