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Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center

Guardian of the Horizon by Elizabeth Peters

May 1, 2004

HarperCollins Publishers, New York
2004 (hc)

Who among us hasn’t wished we could turn the clock back to relive a particularly wonderful or exciting or magical time in our lives? Until H.G. Wells’ time machine becomes a reality, the only people who can successfully do this are authors—and Elizabeth Peters’ latest offering in the wonderful Amelia Peabody series does exactly that!

The Peabody series—certainly the most outstanding mystery cum romance cum archaeology story arcs ever—has followed Amelia, friends, family and villains through the late decades of the 19th Century to the dawn of the 20th Century and through the horrors of the Great War period. Amelia and Emerson & Co. continue to entertain us, even as their children grow up and have children; but the dynamic couple (like those of us in the real world) grows older and grayer and sooner or later loses a step.

But then the intrepid author steps in and turns the pages of time back ten years when the Emerson-Peabody family was at its most vigorous, and through the felicitous “discovery” of a lost Peabody journal, we return to the Lost Oasis, introduced to us in the earlier volume provocatively entitled, The Last Camel Died at Noon. It’s now 1907, some ten years after the Last Camel adventure, and a strange young man shows up at the Emerson-Peabody estate in Kent, England, bearing a message from their old friend Tarek, king of the Lost Oasis. “Come to me, my friends who once saved me. Danger threatens and only you can help me now.”

Thus begins adventure on a grand scale as Emerson, Peabody, their son Ramses, and Nefret, whom they rescued from the Lost Oasis ten years earlier, set out to aid their old ally. The story has everything one could hope for as it recaptures the Rider Haggard atmosphere of Last Camel, and includes, much to Emerson’s dismay, Christian missionaries, the Great White Hunter, obnoxious German tourists, and a “confounded Egyptologist” linked to the British Museum. The epic also includes desert marauders, High Priests, palace intrigue, kidnappings, and a variety of characters, listed above, who may or may not be what they claim to be.

This is, in short, the perfect summer time read—and is one of those rare books that one truly hates to see come to an end!