My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The first time I read through The Falcon at the Portal, book #11 of the Amelia Peabodies, I pretty much wanted to smack Nefret upside the head for what she pulls partway through the book. I am sorry to say that my impression on my recent re-read of her actions in this story have not much improved. Now that I am a writer myself and I’ve had a lot of time to get a lot more reading in besides, I better appreciate that a character I otherwise admire can do something deeply stupid. That said? What Nefret does in this book is still deeply stupid.
But let me back up. This is the third book involved in the overall four-book arc of the love story of Ramses and Nefret, a mini-arc in the overall stretch of the series. (I don’t count Guardian of the Horizon and A River in the Sky in this arc since they were inserted later, and don’t bring anything new to this particular storyline that the original four books don’t already establish.) We’ve jumped ahead a few more years since the events of The Ape Who Guards the Balance, and we start things off with a threat to the shiny new marriage of David and Lia: somebody is selling forgeries to antiquities dealers, and throwing around strong hints that they are David’s own creations. Very, very aware that David has not fallen back into the habits of his youth, Ramses and Nefret are determined to investigate even as the family prepares for their next season in Egypt.
Meanwhile, Ramses’ odious cousin Percy is making a massive nuisance of himself. He’s written a book based on what he claims are his own recent adventures in Egypt now that he’s joined the service–only problem is, he’s taking all kinds of dramatic liberties with the tale of how Ramses actually rescued him from being held hostage. Most of the family is suitably aghast at Percy’s distinctly purple prose, but only Ramses knows the truth of the hostage incident, and he isn’t telling. Not even Percy realizes what happened, and once he finds out, this sets off what’s actually a quite delicious little bit of revenge until Nefret wigs right out about it.
Feh. Aside from the Nefret bits this is a decent enough story, and for continuity’s sake one does want to read it, if nothing else to provide suitable context for the awesomeness that is to follow in He Shall Thunder in the Sky. My advice though is to read that one as soon as possible after this one. For this one, three stars.