April 8, 2006

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield

Posted in books tagged , at 11:58 pm by placeinthestars

So I finished The Tomb of the Golden Bird this afternoon. It’s the latest in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters and, given the ending, I believe it may be the last. Which I have always kind of expected. It concerns the discovery of Tutankhamon’s tomb by Howard Carter (of course, Emerson pointed him at it *g*), and she neatly gets around the fictionality of the Emersons by having Emerson row with Carter and Lord Carnarvon so they’re banned from helping.

There’s an espionage plot which Sethos is involved in and I feel like Peters was taking a stab at current events with the discussions of war and coups and oil in Iraq, though I don’t doubt there was unrest in the region in the 1920s. Has there ever not been unrest in the region? …Don’t answer that.

Anyhow, she rehashes some themes, like David being naive enough to get involved with Egyptian nationalists (and for the first time ever I understood why people slash David and Ramses, but it still makes me queasy, so even though my distaste for Nefret remains, I just can’t go there), and for once she doesn’t forget Sennia exists, though I could have done with a little less Charla and David John (and honestly, they pawn those kids off on Fatima far too much, imo, and I did feel bad for Charla and was glad Peabody realized how much they were favoring David John) and a little more plot that was actually interesting.

Since Falcon, she really hasn’t been able to hold my attention, plot-wise, and that’s sad. Seeing a Large Cat and The Ape Who Guards the Balance are my favorites, I think. Ramses is old enough to be dashing and interesting, he’s quite good at the stoical pining thing, and I don’t hate Nefret yet.

But what makes me think this is the last, aside from the fact that Amelia must be pushing 80 and the discovery of King Tut’s tomb seems a nature ending place, is the way it ends, with Sethos swearing this time he really is retiring from the spy game and Nefret being pregnant again, and then Peabody and Emerson talking about sailing off into the sunset on the Amelia, and Emerson quoting Shakespeare — Emerson! poetry! — and Tennyson. (earlier in the book, though I can’t find it, there’s also a reference to “On first looking into Chapman’s Homer,” which tickled me, as well. Not to mention the echo for me of Mal’s, “Yes, I have read a poem, try not to faint.” *g*).

Anyhow, that last bit is my favorite thing in the book, I think:

“I have concluded,” said Emerson, carrying me toward the bed, “that you are immortal. Age cannot wither…nor time decay your infinite variety.”

“Poetry, Emerson!” I cried.

“Shakespeare,” said Emerson proudly. “I know another poem, Peabody.”

“May I hear it?”

“‘It little profits that an idle king…matched with an aging wife…'”

I put the pillow over his face. After a short interval he broke off to say breathlessly, “You did not allow me to finish, Peabody. How does it go? ”Tis not too late to seek a newer world.’ Shall we get the Amelia back on the river and go sailing again? ‘Push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows?'”

“‘It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,'” I went on dreamily.

“And see the great Abdullah, whom we know.”

“You are making a dreadful hash of Tennyson, Emerson.”

“It’s the thought that counts, Peabody. “‘One equal-temper of heroic hearts,’ that’s what we are. ‘To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.'”

Oh, they’re so adorable together, and the reason I keep buying and reading these books. Sigh. So I can’t say it’s recommended, unless, like me, your whole reason for reading is to catch up with the characters, plot be damned.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Posted in poetry tagged author: alfred tennyson, author: john keats, poetry at 10:22 am by placeinthestars per my last post: […]


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