Thursday, April 26, 2018

A. M. Dean - The Lost Library

Knowledge is power and power can kill . . .
He was the keeper - Arno Holmstrand is about to die, his life cut short by an organization intent on taking all of his secrets about the one thing he has spent a lifetime guarding: the wherabouts and vast knowledge of the Library of Alexandria.
She will inherit his legacy - Emily Wess is about to have her life change beyond all recognition. One minute she is a professor of history, the next she is flying around the world deciphering clues left by her mentor Arno Holmstrand. Is she being tested?
They will kill for control - They are the Council and crave power and position. Their courruption spreads from the highest points of government to the assassins they hire to commit their crimes.They will kill for the ancient knowledge contained in the Library. And Emily Wess has exactly what they want.

Comment: I got this book in Portuguese at a book fair last year. I confess I didn't even know about the existence of this book but while browsing, I saw the cover and since I mostly like Egyptian related mysteries in fiction, I got interested in the story. Plus, it was referenced that this would be a story alike those of Dan Brown and no matter people's opinions, he can at least entertain the reader, so I was curious to be entertained by this book as well.

In this story we meet Emily Wess, an university teacher who will see her life change after the death of a former mentor, Arno Holmstrand since he left her clues to discover the secret of the location of the library of Alexandria, something everyone thought had been lost forever.
However, Emily's task won't be easy and she will need to use all her knowledge and cunning to overcome an organization that also wants to have the knowledge of the library for themselves. This organization has spies and contacts in almost every place, including the White House. 
With the power of such an organization behind the most complicated steps, can Emily still be one step ahead of them?

In the aftermath of adventure stories featuring knowledgeable heroes and heroines who uncover secrets and present amazing scenarios where theories come back to reality about issues still to solve or filled with imaginative ideas, the author of this book has set his heroes to discover the lost library of Alexandria, one of those mysteries lost in time.
I tend to like these sort of stories where information and theories are presented and mixed together to carry the reader towards a final (if unlikely) scene where we can discover things.

Often, I put aside any realistic content and historical inaccuracy only to be entertained by the plot and how believable it can be even in the most fictional scenarios.
This is why I've enjoyed Dan Brown's stories int he past, not because his theories are possible or believable or set in historical facts but because there are enough hints of that plus with an engaging amount of information that makes sense in that story. It's the steps taken and the things one can learn that make books like these interesting for me.

This book has all of the above which, in theory, should be enough to make it a success to me but the truth is that, unlike some other books in the genre - and some I've really loved, with this story I missed the more engaging use of clues to convince the reader of what was happening.
I felt this story focused too much on the villain's POV and their (somewhat silly) aspirations and not as much on the adventure. Things were too simple, too quickly solved, too easy at times for it to be a convincing story. 
I don't mean to say that Emily should have gotten a more difficult task uncovering the clues to move along, only that her actions weren't spaced out convincingly. I can understand the need for a quick "quest" in order for the urgency of a bad guy behind not getting there first but... perhaps if things took longer in time but with Emily one step ahead would have been better. This doesn't mean the bad guys wouldn't be a threat, I can't understand why authors don't make things like this more often.

When the final scenes happen, and the reader is in possession of all the secrets, I must say I was a little bit disappointed. I mean, from a sociology POV I get why Emily acted the way she did but part of the fun of mysteries and things we don't know is precisely that, the fact we can still think about it. In this regard, the end of the book wasn't something I found a good choice.

As for the characters...Emily is a good heroine, she is clever, she isn't bound by any limitations except time and her care for others. But these same aspects make her move along nicely to the step ahead. At the same time, her personality was too simple, she was just a good person with doubts and a task.
She has "helpers" along the way, but those also seem to just fulfill a role.
The villains are too silly. I'd have preferred more anonymous characters, like people not after the power of the library itself but maybe the need for them to own it or something... the way things happened, everything was almost superficial. No surprises in the search nor in the outcome.

All in all, this was an easy story to read, it's as fast paced as most books in this genre, but I think despite some interesting data and historical facts, this wasn't as amazing as it could have been. Some elements were certainly under played and others over done so... not much balance overall. But still entertaining for the most part.
Grade: 6/10

No comments:

Post a Comment