Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Barbary Pirates - Book Review

The Barbary Pirates
by William Dietrich
Harper Collins 2010

This is the continuing saga of Ethan Gage. At the end of the Dakota Cipher, Ethan had barely escaped from his home country of the United States with his life. He had lost all his friends and still has one implacable enemy - Aurora Somerset. The year is now 1802.

At the beginning of this book, Ethan is back in Paris, France. He is determined to find his first love, Astiza, the Egyptian/Greek girl he first met in Egypt. Ethan sends out several letters to Egypt and Jerusalem enquiring of her whereabouts. While he waits for replies to his letters, he is persuaded to show the city of Paris to 3 savants - French zoologist Georges Cuvier, English geologist William Smith and American inventor Robert Fulton.

At the Palais Royale - the home of brothels, bordellos and pleasure houses - the 4 men are tempted to enter a bordello which becomes a trap. They are engaged in a battle against arabs. Someone starts a fire and as the 4 attempt to escape, they are arrested by the french gendarme. Later they are brought before Napoleon where the First Consul has a rather strange conversation. Napoleon speaks of various ancient legends including the Little Red Man, Og, Thira and Atlantis.

One of these legends mentions a devastating weapon that the ancient greeks had used to destroy their enemies. Napoleon wants Ethan to find this weapon so that the French can use it against their enemies. There is one clue - the greek island of Thira. Gage and his savant friends are blackmailed into doing this under the guise of an archaelogical expedition.

So the 4 men set out for Greece via Venice and the Aegean Sea. They are chased in Venice and are persuaded to seek safety aboard a ship owned by a Turk called Hamidou Dragut who agrees to take them to the island of Thera (aka Santorini)

On Thera, the men meet the Greek independence leader Ioannis Kapodistrias who leads them to a church, Agia Theodosia, The Compromise of the Cannon. With more Turks chasing them, the men climb into a sarcophagus crypt to hide. When they continue breathing, they find the release mechanism that opens the bottom of the crypt and without warning the men drop and then roll downhill a long way - for several seconds at least.

Keeping in mind that Thera is an extinct volcano, the 4 men are now inside the volcano. They follow the path downwards and eventually end up at a buried city with buildings and beautiful, colourful murals painted on the walls. One of the murals shows ships at sea with a ray of light emanating from one ship, setting other ships on fire. Fulton mentions the burning mirrors, an ancient legend about Archimedes who created a large lens or mirror that reflected the sunlight to destroy the Roman ships that were laying seige to the Greek city of Syracuse in 212 BCE.

The men also find a parchment hidden in the walls of another mural. THey continue following the lava tubes and eventually find them selves in a cave on the south side of the island of Thera with Hamidou's ship just off the coast.

Back on Hamidou's boat, Gage demands to be returned to Venice, but it is sometime later before they realsie that the boat is actually going south, not north. The men are tied up and left in the cellar. When the ship slows and stops, the men are taken top side where they meet Aurora Somerset who has another ship tied up along side.

The men are taken to Tripoli where they are auctioned off in the slave markets and are sold to Yusef Karamanli the ruler of Tripoli. The 3 savants are jailed while Gage meets up with Karamanli, Aurora and also with Astiza (who is now part of Karamanli's harem) along with her son Horus.

Gage is flabbergasted to learn that he is now a father - Horus being 2 years old. The 3 savants are set free and allowed to sail to Toulon in Provence. Gage and Horus are taken by ship to Syracuse on the island of Sicily. Astiza is left behind in the royal harem as a hostage. In Syracuse they search for and find the ancient mirror - the location of said mirror being a map on the parchment that Gage had found back in the buried city on Thera. Aurora, Hamidou, Gage and little Harry (as Horus is now called) and the crews place the mirror on board a ship for the journey back to Tripoli.

On the return journey Gage is dumped overboard and left for dead. He is picked up by a American ship heading for Malta. The 3 savants are also on board this ship having been picked up in Toulon. They have a submarine - Fultons invention - and make a plan on rescuing Astiza and Horus and destroying the mirror.

They sail into Tripoli unseen by submarine, rescue Astiza and Horus and release all the other prisoners. In the chaos of escaping prisoners, Aurora is killed, the mirror is destroyed and our heroes escape back to the submarine and calmly sail out of Tripoli harbour.

They are later picked up by the american ship and taken to Malta where the American navy is based. Gage proposes marriage to Astiza who accepts and Gage finally has his family.


Anonymous said...

My goodness, these guys were on one heck of a trip. Sounds like the kind of adventure thriller I like. I will look for it at the library.

Historia said...

You may have to wait a while. This book was published just last month - March 2010.