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Book review: David Gibbins' Pharaoh a tense journey into the Nile

A team of archaeologists search for the truth behind an African monarch's disappearance in the Pharaoh by David Gibbins.

Pharaoh
David Gibbins
Dell

I'm probably going to ruffle a few feathers here, but I've never been a Dan Brown fan.

Thus, I did not show much enthusiasm to read Pharaoh when it was described on the back as "The Da Vinci Code of the deep sea".

But I enjoyed David Gibbins's novel. And how.

The story begins in 1351BC with Akhenaten, the Sun-Pharaoh, disappearing beneath the sands of the Great Pyramids of Giza.

On to AD1884, when a British soldier serving in Sudan comes across the remains of a submerged temple showing signs of human sacrifice.

Present day, and Jack Howard and his archaeology team are on the trail of the mystery, diving into the Nile in a bid to discover the truth behind the Sun-Pharaoh's disappearance. The deeper the team dived, the more I became engrossed.

It was Gordon of Khartoum's period I found most fascinating. Gibbins's description of the battle scenes are horrific - "Another officer with a knuckleduster grasped a dervish in a headlock and punched his nose upwards so that it shattered into the man's brain" - it was often a relief to get back to the relative peace of modern day.

cwhebell@thenational.ae

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