Book: He Shall Thunder in the Sky

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He Shall Thunder in the Sky: An Amelia Peabody Mystery

Author: Elizabeth Peters
Publisher: William Morrow & Company

There are dark storm clouds gathering above a land of mystery and antiquity. And no one will escape the fury of the tempest to come. He Shall Thunder In The Sky.

Egypt and her hoary secrets are no match for New York Times-bestselling Grandmaster Elizabeth Peters and her indomitable archaeologist sleuth Amelia Peabody. The sand-and-wind blown ambience of this strange and colorful world, the ancient enchantments and delicious menace are more vibrantly realized than ever in this thrilling new adventure that places the intrepid Amelia and her equally remarkable family in the dangerous path of an onrushing World War.

The pursuit of knowledge must never be deterred by Man’s folly. So the close of 1914 finds Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson back in Egypt for another season of archaeological excavation—despite the increasing danger of an attack on the Suez Canal and on Egypt itself. Trouble is brewing in Cairo and the defiantly pacifist stance of Amelia and Emerson’s headstrong son Ramses is earning the young man the derision, and much worse, of the British expatriate community. Meanwhile, the charismatic nationalist el Wardani is said to be fomenting insurrection in the ancient city. And since there is no way to stand outside the political hurricane that is suddenly threatening their lives, Amelia plunges directly into it.

When el Wardani escapes a police dragnet, thanks to the direct intervention of Amelia and Emerson, the family’s stake in a perilous game is raised considerably. But it’s Ramses’ strange secret role in it that could truly bring ruin down upon all their heads. However, there is more than intrigue and espionage, plots and counterplots, at work here. For an artifact uncovered at a Giza dig—an exquisite sculpture found where it ought not to be confirms Amelia’s most unsettling suspicion: that the chaos consuming Cairo has masked the nefarious re-emergence of Amelia’s villainous archnemesis, Sethos, the Master Criminal.

The extraordinary Elizabeth Peters raises exotic intrigue to a new level with He Shall Thunder in the Sky. If you have never before experienced Amelia and her singular clan, prepare to be enthralled by the droll wit, the richly evoked locale, and a story that twists sensuously and mysteriously like an asp writhing beneath the desert sun. And longtime devotees will relish the return of dear friends—and await the resolution of a love affair that may change the Emersons’ destiny forever.


He Shall Thunder in the Sky completes an internal quartet (which also includes Seeing a Large Cat, The Ape Who Guards the Balance, and The Falcon at the Portal) within Elizabeth Peters’s legendary series starring Amelia Peabody, the intrepid Edwardian Egyptologist, her husband, Emerson, and her extended family. The quartet comprises not only Amelia’s diary of those years but also parts of a mysterious “Manuscript H,” an omniscient viewpoint that allows a glimpse into the minds of Amelia’s son—the dashing and brilliant Ramses—and her ward, Nefret Forth, as they mature into adults with their own secrets and agendas. The Falcon at the Portal left readers hanging impatiently in the enormous rift that book’s events gouged between Ramses and Nefret, both madly in love but unrelentingly proud.

The winter of 1914-15 finds the Peabody-Emerson family back in Cairo—now under British martial law, with the Suez Canal under constant threat of attack from the Ottoman Empire. The city’s young Englishmen are rushing to enlist, except for Ramses, who is widely scorned for his pacifism. Yet Amelia and Emerson soon find out that Ramses is (literally) playing a mysterious and potentially explosive part in the conflict between Egyptian nationalists and the British authorities, for reasons both political and familial. Nefret, for her part, is still running a health clinic for the city’s fallen women and trying to avoid the attentions of Percy, Amelia’s odious nephew. In the meantime, the Emersons’ excavations at Giza reveal an unexpected treasure so remarkable that the uneasy Amelia immediately senses the fine hand of Sethos, the Master Criminal (who through many previous books has alternately plagued her and protested his boundless affection for her), at work. The climax and denouement are entirely worth the price of admission—tying up a decade’s worth of loose strings and explaining some nagging points so subtle that less observant readers might easily have missed them. It’s Peters’s great gift that in the grand scheme of things, no clues are wasted. Her plotting is wonderfully complex and intriguing, and it fits seamlessly into the detailed historical background she builds so carefully. It may have taken years for her to complete this four-part dance (she promises more Amelia Peabody mysteries in the future), but she’s charmed us right out of our dancing slippers along the way. —Barrie Trinkle

Barnes and Noble

You’ve got your romance. You’ve got your archaeology. You’ve got your mystery and myth. You’ve even got your basic world war. And most of all you’ve got your great Elizabeth Peters gift for gab.

Translate to: While America is on the brink of war in 1914-1915, Amelia Peabody and her husband are working merrily away at their Egyptian archeological site, pressed into acknowledging the war only because of their son’s machinations. Ramses not only has time for political brinksmanship—he also has time to finally do something about his love life (i.e., Nefret).

This is all well and good. Nobody ever accused Elizabeth Peters of constructing a faulty or dull plot. But what you read her for is the writing. God blessed her with that rarest of gifts, charm, and it can be found in virtually every line. Her tongue is sardonic but rarely tart; amiable but never silly; satiric but never mean. She sees us for what we are, I think, and forgives us nonetheless. And she manages to do all this with a storyline that H. Rider Haggard would have envied for complexity, and G. K. Chesterton for social pith.

If you like stories about Egypt; if you like spunky romance; if you like the derring-do of turn-of-the-century espionage; and most important of all, if you like to laugh a lot, HE SHALL THUNDER IN THE SKY is the book for you.

This is certainly one of the two or three best Amelia Peabody’s I’ve read; maybe the best. —Ed Gorman

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