Well, that didn’t take long at all!! 😉
I started this one first of the lot that I received in the mail, and within just a few lines I knew I’d enjoy it. The book opens with this line:
After I trapped three scientissts in a fire I set in a brothel, enlisted them in the theft of a stampeding wagon, got them arrested by the French secret police, and then mired them in a mystic mission for Bonaparte, they began to question my judgment.
And it only gets better from there.
Ethan Gage is the main character, a treasure hunter with a shady reputation and a questionable past who has decided, as of the previous book in this series, to rehabilitate himself. Considering the book begins with him taking three historical luminaries to a notorious Parisian brothel, you begin to question his dedication to the cause. But a simple trip tot he brothel isn’t so simple for Gage, and he ends up having to escape some old enemies (taking the luminaries with him, of course) by setting the entire building on fire. In the midst of the getaway, he is arrested by the French secret police and brought to Napoleon, who has a mission for the entire group.
Find Archimedes’ Mirror, and find it before the mysterious enemy that has been plaguing Ethan for years finds it. Oh, and to find it, they probably have to find the lost continent of Atlantis as well, or at least decode some Templar documents that seem to point to the location of the fabled lost continent.
This is a classic treasure hunting novel, complete with Templar clues, a modern heretical Masonic group (the Egyptian Rite), hidden tunnels with intricate booby traps, ancient documents that contain hidden secrets, and even a little bit of love thrown in for good measure. There were a few plot twists in the book, but the main reason I kept reading it (and make no mistake, the book is a compelling read) was simply to find out how Ethan Gage got out of his latest scrape. You know he always will, just as sure as Indiana Jones will still be alive at the end of the movie; you just want to know how he does it, and who survives with him. There are deaths in this book, though you know that Robert Fulton, William Smith, and Georges Cuvier would all survive, since they are the historical luminaries I mentioned earlier. Some major characters are killed in this book, and fans of the series will be shocked by one of them, I think.
Ethan Gage himself is an interesting character. I’m used to main characters who have at least one true ally, but Gage seems to be surrounded with people who are there because they’re stuck with him, and would leave him in an instant if circumstances were different. In fact, at one point Fulton himself has the US Navy ready to hang Gage as a traitor. But throughout, Gage is a character you can feel sorry for; the book is written from his POV, so we get a better idea of his motivations and attitudes.
This is yet another middle-of-a-series book that has made me want to read the whole series. If I only had the time …