Amelia Peabody--our intrepid heroine who is also our narrator. Strong-willed and practical, Amelia is like a force of nature--she will have her way with boat captains and archaeologists, and she may use her parasol to do it! If there is something amiss, this miss will straighten it out!
Evelyn Forbes--abandoned in Rome by her faithless lover, and "rescued" by Amelia, Evelyn proves to be a talented artist and the key to a mystery that could lead to someone's death.
Michael Bedawee, the dragoman--this Coptic Christian's daughter was healed by Amelia's attention to an infection, and is the picture of loyalty and devotion, but could he be hiding something?
Alberto--the faithless lover who turns up serendipitously in Cairo... Why has he followed Evelyn?
Lucas Hayes--Evelyn's cousin who is heir to Lord Ellesmere [Evelyn's grandfather] and who has proposed marriage to Evelyn, even though she has a "shadowed reputation." Does Lucas really love her? Why does Amelia find him untrustworthy? Is it because she prefers Walter as a suitor for Evelyn?
Reis Hassan--the captain of the dahabeeyah, the Philae, who is not pleased when Amelia tells him how to do his job--she is just a woman. However, he DOES accede to her demands, and they end up at Haggi Qandil where the Emersons are working and where odd coincidences just keep piling up. Does Reis Hassan have something to do with this? How far would he go to get of Amelia?
Walter Emerson--an archaeologist who, with his bother Radcliffe, is excavating at Tell-el-Armana. This gentle man has clearly fallen for Evelyn, but will he be ruled by his more practical brother, Emerson, who might prefer that Walter marry for money rather than for love?
Radcliffe Emerson--an imposing man who is angered by the way too many people treat the artifacts of Ancient Egypt, and he will tell anybody what he thinks, whether it is polite to do so or not. He seems more concerned about his discoveries at Amarna than he is about his own health or the safety of others. He has probably made a LOT of enemies from the way he treats people--he is definitely NOT very respectful of other professionals in Egypt, such as M. Maspero, the Director of the museum of Egyptian antiquities at Boulaq. Could Emerson have finally angered someone enough to cause mischief at his dig? Is he a magnet for trouble? Or is he just a magnet for Amelia?
Abdullah--the foreman who oversees the workers on the Emersons' dig. He has worked with them before, but what do they really know about him? Could "his flowing snowy robes, long grey beard, and voluminous headcloth"  be a disguise for someone who has more to gain from this dig than just what he is paid by the Emersons?
Elizabeth Peters has created a fascinating set of characters who are beset with troubles which are finally resolved satisfactorily, and several of them will continue to live on though the next nineteen volumes in this series! For this week's post's, move past just commenting on what is happening and discuss any of the following:
- How does the title relate to the book?
- How believable are the characters? Which character do you identify with?
- How does the setting impact the events of the book? Could these events have happened "at home" in England?
- Are the plot and subplots believable and interesting? What loose ends, if any, did the author leave?
- How would the book be different if Radcliffe Emerson, or Evelyn Forbes, or even Walter Emerson had been the narrator?
- What themes [stranger in a strange land, coming of age, self-discovery-man against man/man against nature/man against society, women's place in the world, a man's work as his identity, civilized society vs primitive or "un-advanced" people] recur throughout the book?
- Barbara Mertz [Elizabeth Peter's real name] earned a doctorate in Egyptology from the Oriental Institute in Chicago; do you think that she would be more in agreement with M. Maspero or Radcliffe Emerson when it comes to how an archaeological dig should be conducted? Why do you think so?
- Does the book address broader social issues? Does the author take a stance on, for example, men's roles vs women's roles or how a particular culture or subculture portrayed?
- What do you think happens to these characters after this story ends? After all, there are 18 more novels in this series!
- How does this book compare to other books you've read? Would it make a good movie?
T. Barb :)