Sunday, December 16, 2012

Pagan's Sphinx

by William Webster

Release Date: November 30, 2012


A battered journal left by the lone survivor of a plane crash provides a tantalising clue to an ancient mystery…

After years of leading overland expeditions all over the world, Ben Drummond is trying to settle down in England and forget the woman who broke his heart.

But he is summoned to Oxford by maverick archaeologist Dr Sarah Pagan, who believes she has discovered the whereabouts of a lost statue. Pagan believes the statue - of an ancient sphinx - could be even older than the Pyramids.

Proving its existence would turn conventional history on its head –allowing Pagan to vindicate herself and reclaim her lost reputation.

Pagan wants Ben to lead an expedition that will take her team deep into the desolate landscape of the Western Sahara.

Their first hurdle is to find the unmarked wreck of the crashed plane – but Ben soon realises they are not the only ones on the trail. A gang of art thieves have got wind of Pagan’s quest and are trying to follow the team so that they can loot the site for themselves.

Rating:  Stars

I went through a lot of changing my mind reading this novel. At the beginning I was just not so sure. Then I kinda liked it, then I was not very interested and last I thought it was ok.

With all of that in mind I am not sure how to rate it.

I do like the idea of this book. It certainly was well researched and the basic story line is good fun. It's a kind of realistic Indiana Jones Type of story, archeology, mystery, some theirs and guns and even a bit of romance has been thrown in.
I love archeology, ancient ruins and their mysteries. I spent my childhood going on discoveries tours on ancient sights. And I even considered studying Archeology at some point. Add to that my nomadic nature. This should be totally the book for me; archeology, traveling (to places I have love and know well)

But I found it was to long wound. A lot of descriptions and scenario were thrown it that only got me bored, because they didn't add anything to the story line. Like the scenario of the bus driver. I felt there was absolutely no point to the actual story, and found myself wondering when we could get back to the important bits. In fact that happened to me quite a few times.

Most of the story is told from Ben's POV.
And through the course of this book, I grew to like him. He is your stereotype British dude in many ways. And views the world with rather British eyes. Which I think is what made him kinda believable. Ben is the most developed character, probably do to the fact that he is the narrator, but also he is very believable and rounded. His feelings and thoughts are layer out there, and I could totally associate with many of them.
In my opinion none of the other characters were as well developed. I kinda think it made the narration more believable thought. Since Ben is telling the story, lots of the things we get to know about the other characters are totally colored in his opinion of them. Which honestly is kinda clever, assuming it was done by purpose. There were however also situations in the book where I rolled my eyes, thinking this is so condescending and so stereotypical. I have traveled in Morocco extensively and being a European woman had a very different experience that Ben is stating as being facts and normalcy.

There are a few other POVs, most of which I found super flues and added to the general feeling that the book is too long wound. The other thing is, that all the POV were written exactly the same and with a couple I had to actually go back and reread who was actually telling the story at this point in time, because I couldn't discern any difference.
The characters most lacking, were the villains. I think they were way to stereotypical, to one sided and came across rather like cardboards. So the main villain, is foreign and turns out to be a total nutcase with very bad motives and connections. For me the whole terrorist thing, was actually a turn I found simply boring, it has been done a couple of too many times. And Yusuf in that moment was more of a caricature than a believable character.

The romance part was sweet and got me guessing about the mystery behind it all. And then it was kinda just solved and they were together and that's that. Which in fact happened with lots of the story lines.

The last 60pages everything kinda just fell into place and was done and dusted. Despite it being THE ACTION SCENE of the book, I felt kind let down. There were hundreds of pages of build up.. and then it kind fell short.
The prose is very direct and journalistic. It does again support the narrators character building, its as if Ben would have written the story down in a diary or if he would be telling it.

All in all I do like the idea behind the book interesting and think it has great potential. But fell sadly a bit short in the execution.

So the book ranks between good and ok- 2.5 Stars rounded up

This ARC was giving to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

View all my reviews

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