The tomb of China’s First Emperor, guarded by an underground army of terra-cotta warriors, has remained sealed for more than 2,000 years. Though it’s regarded as one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, the Chinese government won’t allow anyone to open it. Why? That question is at the heart of a dilemma faced by former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone, whose life is shattered when he receives an anonymous note carrying an unfamiliar Web address. Logging on, he sees Cassiopeia Vitt, a woman who’s saved his life more than once, being tortured at the hands of a mysterious man who has a single demand: Bring me the artifact she’s asked you to keep safe. The only problem is, Malone doesn’t have a clue what the man is talking about, since Cassiopeia has left nothing with him. So begins Malone’s most harrowing adventure to date—one that offers up astounding historical revelations, pits him against a ruthless ancient brotherhood, and sends him from Denmark to Belgium to Vietnam then on to China, a vast and mysterious land where danger lurks at every turn.
The suspense-thriller genre was more of a “hand me down” genre for me. Being a history and mystery buff myself the suspense thrillers I had on my bookshelves were usually ones I received from my parents. For the most part these included books by Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follet, John Le Carre etc… I loved those books. They were all very character driven, with fabulous plots which, though occasionally over the top, still seemed believable and made you wonder if that was what really happened.When I was offered the chance to read Steve Berry, I immediately went to my suspense-thriller oracle (dad) and asked him if he had read any books by the author. He said he hadn’t but that he had “heard good things”. Well then, wasn’t it my turn to add to those shelves?The first thing I realized was that The Emperor’s Tomb obviously features characters from previous books, and while this doesn’t affect the story itself, I did have a constant impulse to go out and buy previous books just so that I could get the main character’s background in order.This book sucks you in from page one, there is no build up to all the drama, the characters ‘come on stage’ and the story gets into gear. The book is definitely plot driven and the plot was extremely enjoyable. From Copenhagen to Antwerp and then on to China with a few stops on the way, the book focuses on the what was once the greatest civilization of inventors and thinkers – the Chinese, and how consecutive political battles eradicated a great history in a bid to promote whichever current party or group was in power.Now, a new change is coming to the Chinese political landscape and it can really go either way – take China back deeper into communism, or attempt to take China forward to a new era of cultural growth and democratic thought. Our protagonist Cotton Malone gets pulled into this great political struggle and he must find a way to bring himself and his friend Cassiopeia Vitt out alive, without causing the world to collapse of course!I finished The Emperor’s Tomb in one sitting, and really enjoyed it. I especially loved the glimpse into China’s history – the inventions, the rich culture were wonderful to read about. As for the characters, while they were fun to follow, I didn’t really know them better when I finished the book, they could have been replaced by anybody really. The big bad was a very big bad, the good guys were good, there was no middle ground which meant that the two most interesting characters – Viktor Tomas and Pau Wen were interesting because they were kind of ambiguous until the very end.As a graduate of the Follet/Forsyth method of suspense writing, I do love those character driven books and was a bit disappointed by The Emperor’s Tomb which could have been so much more than what it was. Still, if you’re asking me whether I will be reading more Steve Berry books? Yes. they were filled with adventure and nail-biting moments, with just the right amount of historical background and I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a light fun read.Happy reading!