He Shall Thunder in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters
Genre: Historical Mystery
Series: #12 in the Amelia Peabody series publication order, #14 in story chronology order
Publisher: Recorded Books
Publication Date: 2000 Recorded Books (Book originally published 2000)
Length: 17 hours, 7 minutes
Read by: Barbara Rosenblat
The Short Version:
World War I comes to Egypt and in 1914-15 it has a tremendous impact on the work of the archaeologists and particularly the Emerson-Peabody clan and their friends.
Why I Read It:
This is one of my favorite series and my friend at Beth Fish Reads and I planned to listen to it at the same time (more about that later).
From the publisher
Trouble is brewing in Egypt at the close of 1914 and no one will escape the coming tempest. With the world at war, Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson have returned to Cairo for another season of archaeological excavation—despite the increasing danger of an attack on the Suez Canal and on Egypt itself.
A terrible conflict looms. A long-simmering love affair is resolved. A dastardly plot unfolds. There is no escaping the furious storm that now threatens the Emersons and their world—so Amelia plunges right into it.
Note on series order: I read this one out of publication order because I’m reading the series in order of the story. You can find the chronology here.
Well, the best laid plans and all that goes with them means that a hoped for joint review with Beth Fish Reads didn’t happen this time. We had wanted to listen to this one at close to the same time so we could chat about it and perhaps put together a joint review but travel schedules and the fact that she gets through audiobooks at least three times as fast as I do thwarted that plan. Perhaps for the next book in the series but she’s got to promise to give me a two week head start on listening. You can see her review at Beth Fish Reads.
I will say that this is (at this point anyway) my absolute favorite book in the series. That may change before I finish the series but the bar has been set very high by this one.
While I am accustomed to the fact that much of these books are told from Amelia’s less than neutral and clearly embellished viewpoint I did get a giggle out of the editor’s note at the beginning.
Being only too familiar with Mrs. Emerson’s prejudices and selective memory, the Editor was surprised to discover, after painstaking research, that her account agrees in all important particulars with the known facts.
I remember in the early books in the series when Ramses was my least favorite part of the books. He was an annoying character and Barbara Rosenblat’s characterization of his voice only reinforced my annoyance whenever he was involved. Fast forward a few years and books and I do believe I’m developing a bit of a literary crush on ol’ Ramses. As the character has aged through the books Barbara Rosenblat has changed his voice and speech pattern appropriately. He’s quite the romantic lead character at this point.
He can make me laugh too.
“I must be cruel, only to be kind.”
What a smug, self-righteous thing to say to someone whose heart you had cleft in twain. Hamlet had always struck him as something of a prig.
Amelia and Emerson are finding themselves struggling a bit with accepting that their children are growing up. Relationships are changing both between Amelia and her husband as well as between the younger adults and the parents.
“Why don’t you ask the Professor whom he suspects?”
“I could do that,” Ramses admitted.
“It is time you began treating your parents like responsible adults,” David said severely.
Of course Amelia views her son growing up in her own inimitable way.
In other words, he was thinking like a man. Emerson was just as bad; I always had trouble convincing him that he needed me to protect him. Dealing with not one but two male egos was really going to be a nuisance.
The Emersons are most definitely not an average family. This conversation occurs as they’re on their way to a restaurant for dinner
“Aunt Amelia, does it ever occur to you that this family is a trifle eccentric?”
“Because we are taking the cat to dinner with us?”
When Amelia opens her Christmas present from Emerson I nearly drove off the road I was laughing so hard but I can’t tell you about that. You’ll have to let that one be a surprise. Amelia’s adventure driving Emerson’s car was another time where I found myself laughing out loud.
I did hit a tree or two, but not very hard. Since I was not entirely confident of my ability to turn the car, I had to go all the way to Helwan before I found a space large enough to drive in a nice circle and head back the way I had come. That was when I hit the second tree. It was only a glancing blow.
Clearly what I enjoy about this series is the combination of action and mystery combined with some cleverly witty humor.
This is enhanced by Barbara Rosenblat’s narration. I firmly believe that I would probably not enjoy these books as much if I read them in print. Rosenblat performs these characters perfectly. She’s just serious enough to be believable as the self-confident (sometimes overly so) Amelia. She’s got Emerson’s gruffness and occasional cluelessness down pat. As I mentioned above she’s grown Ramses from an annoying toddler to a romantic leading man. I sometimes wonder if she has to re-record certain sections because you can almost hear the not quite repressed laughter in her voice.
This continues to be one of my favorite series to experience via audio but you really need to start at the beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank.
Rating 4.5/5 for the book
Rating 4.5/5 for the narration
SoundBytes is a weekly roundup of audio book reviews hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books.