Historian William Dietrich brings us a novel of historical adventure, the second featuring
Ethan Gage, a loveable scoundrel whose curiosity may one day be the death of him. We first
met Ethan in Napoleon's Pyramids, his first adventure, also
reviewed on Myshelf.
The Rosetta Key is the sequel.
Ethan has gotten on board a British warship, captained by Sir Sidney Smith. Smith had
picked Gage up after he'd crashed the balloon he'd stolen from Napoleon's team of scientists.
Headed by Count Alessandro Silano, they hunted for the fabled Book of Thoth, which was reputed
to contain the secrets to unsurpassed wealth and power. Of course, both Bonaparte and Silano
wanted the book for themselves, each planning to escape or kill the other as soon as the book
Meanwhile, Ethan had agreed to gather information for the British in the port city of Jaffa.
While there, he met the blacksmith Jericho, as he was ordered. He stayed with Jericho and his
sister, Miriam, and also looked for his lover, Astiza. The Egyptian beauty had fallen from the
balloon with her former lover, Silano, into the Nile as she and Ethan tried to get away from
the French and Silano.
The Rosetta Key is an impeccably written novel. The characters are three dimensional,
neither all good nor all bad. Ethan Gage is not only curious, but a womanizing gambler with a
penchant for getting into potentially fatal scrapes. Fortunately, he's also adept at getting
out of them. The other characters are equally human.
The historical information is not only fascinating, it is accurate. There are, of course,
places where Mr. Dietrich did take literary license with history. This is, after all, a work of
fiction. The plot follows the lines of history, but it is filled with action, intrigue and
romance. It will keep you involved long after you've realized you should go to bed.