- The Seventh Scroll
- Wilbur Smith
- St Martins Pr (April 1995)
- ISBN-10: 0312119992; $15.85
- ISBN-13: 978-0312119997
- 486 p.
- Hardcover is out of print
Royan Al Simma teams up with Lord Nicholas Quentin-Harper to hunt for the tomb and treasure of Pharaoh Mamose.
Archaeologists Duraid and Royan Al Simma have found a scroll that allegedly leads to the tomb and great wealth of the Pharaoh Mamose. When thieves break in to steal the scroll, Duraid is killed, and Royan barely escapes with her life. She turns to the only person Duraid trusted–treasure hunter and collector Lord Nicholas Quentin-Harper–to help her find out who was responsible for the attack and to beat the thieves to the tomb.
Royan and Nicholas follow the clues to the wilderness of the Abbay Gorge in Ethiopia. To uncover the mystery they must solve the riddles of the genius Egyptian slave Taita, outwit his traps, and outrun the deadly would-be grave robbers. They will do this with the help of Ethiopian rebel Mek Nimmur and the monks of the monastery of St. Frumentius.
This book is fast-paced as an adventure should be. It opens with a violent attack and winds up with a mad race down a rampaging river. The violence is sometimes graphic, as is the occasional sex scene.
The story has an old-fashioned feel to it, with stereotypes common to the genre: the mean, drunk ex-KGB agent; the beautiful, smart Egyptologist; the dashing, rich hero; the evil German villain. It is otherwise well-written, however. Interspersed with the heart-pounding action scenes are wonderful descriptions of the exotic setting, one probably few readers have seen. In fact, the geography could be considered an extra character as it plays a key role in the action. The book also offers something for puzzle lovers as the protagonists attempt to solve the cryptic clues of the genius Taita in a real-life version of the ancient Egyptian game of bao. This is a plot-driven story and it will carry you along in its rapids.
About the Author
The author’s website.
Click here for a video interview with Wilbur Smith.
An interview with The Guardian
This novel should appeal to readers who like fast-paced action and slightly graphic violence. Readers who like to solve puzzles may also enjoy the story. It may appeal to fans of Indiana Jones and similar movies.
The Hippopotamus Marsh, by Pauline Gedge. A series readalike recommended by Novelist.
The Eye of Heaven, by Clive Cussler. Both books are adventure stories starring archaeologists. They are suspenseful and fast paced.
The Lost Army of Cambyses, by Paul Sussman. Also a series readalike from Novelist.
A booktalk should definitely highlight one of the action scenes, such as the opening scene with the murder of Duraid and Royan’s flight to escape. An alternative would be Nicholas being swept down the river. A talk could focus on the opening of the tomb, but this might be too much of a spoiler.
For a less pulse-pounding, more cerebral talk, the focus could be on Taita’s riddles.
Did the characters come across as real people? What stereotypes did you notice?
Did you know anything about this part of the world (Ethiopia/Blue Nile) prior to reading the novel? Does it sound like a place you would want to visit?
What did you think of the treasure-hunting ethics of the various characters–Royan, Nicholas, Von Schiller? To whom should such treasures belong?
Do graphic descriptions of violence and accidents enhance the adventure of the story, or could you do without them?
Why were the monks so accepting of a corpse that was obviously Egyptian rather than a Christian saint?
Why I chose this book
This book was a book discussion group choice. It was exciting and set in a place I knew nothing about, so it was a great departure from my norm.
This is book two in a series; however, the first book is set 4,000 years earlier, and this one can easily stand alone.
Archaeology, Pharaoh, Royan Al Simma, Ethiopia, treasure