Reviewed by Cynthia Salomon
The Rosetta Key by William Dietrich is based on a true episode in Napoleon Bonaparte’s career. It’s about Ethan Gage, an adventurer like Indiana Jones. He has spent most of his thirty-four years trying to keep out of too much trouble and away from too much work. The story is set in The Holy Land in 1799. Napoleon Bonaparte has invaded Jerusalem. He later rises to power in France. The title refers to the Rosetta Stone. The short chapters make the book easy to read.
It’s a wonderful story about history and religion in the Holy Land. Funny to see that the Dutch word ‘rijksdaalders’ (a former coin) is translated into ‘rix-dollars’. Ethan is gambling his way through Palestine to look for the Book of Thoth and his love Astiza. She fell from a balloon in the prequel, Napoleon’s Pyramids, and in this book it becomes clear what happened to her. The writer frequently looks back on Ethan’s experiences in the prequel. This makes that the characters are not clear in the beginning. But later on, you understand more of what happened in the prequel. The Rosetta Key is a very well written book about a historic subject.
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