Quick Review (read on for full review)
An imaginative story containing some interesting passages and characters, but tempered by the inclusion of some heavy, lengthy descriptions. Well worth the read, if only for the ancient history and archaeology. 3 / 5
Summary (from Goodreads)
Greece. 1876. Heinrich Schliemann, the great archaeologist, raises the Mask of Agamemnon and makes a mind-blowing discovery. Determined to keep it a secret until the time is right, he then dies.
Germany. 1945. The liberation of a concentration camp reveals clues to lost antiquities stolen by the Nazis. But the operation is covered up after a deadly secret surfaces. Northern Aegean.
Present day. Marine archaeologist Jack Howard discovers a shipwreck, part of the war fleet of Agamemnon, king of the Greeks, and soon becomes embroiled in a desperate chase across Europe against a ruthless enemy…
The air had been cleansed by the rain, but the smells were rising again: rosemary, thyme, the sweet ether that seemed to float above these ancient sites, an exhalation from history too powerful to be washed away by a transient act of nature.
I really enjoyed parts of this book. It was interesting to read about marine / underwater archaeology and the complexities involved, such as tidal patterns and how these effect not only working conditions while excavating but also how they can alter the appearance of the context in which artefacts are found. However, there are lengthy technical descriptions which were a little harder to read, which affected the pace of the book.
I liked the historical aspect of the storyline (both real and fictional), in terms of the discussions on ancient Troy, Mycenae and Homer and the mystery surrounding Heinrich Schliemann’s behaviour in the latter half of the nineteenth century. But I found the Nazi story thread too much. I understand why it was there: to create the thriller / mystery part of the book, but still.
As for the characters, I liked them, though the cast seemed extensive. Jack Howard was interesting (though the other characters had a tendency to go on about how great he was). Costas Kanzantzakis made a great side-kick (I think he was my favourite character). Professor James Dillon had the air of the aging adventurer about him. Rebecca I wasn’t sure about; I liked her but found the things she got up to a little far-fetched for a 17 year old.
The author’s passion for the subjects involved is clear and obvious to the reader. However, the heaviness of some passages does impact on the book’s pace, hence the rating. So, a bit of a mixed review, but well worth the read if only for the ancient history and archaeology.