Friday, April 15, 2011

Book Review - R.L. LaFever's Theodoisa and the Last Pharaoh

Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh by R. L. LaFevers
Published by: Houghton Mifflin
ARC Provided by Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: April 4th, 2011
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
Challenge: Valley of the Kings
Rating: ★★★★★
To Buy
Theodosia is returning to the land of her birth. Egypt! Who cares if she has a very important mission to return some items to a secret society bent on hiding artifacts of the Gods in the desert. It's Egypt and she's on an expedition with her mom. Take care of the Orb and Rae and the Emerald Tablet and spend the rest of the time doing what she's always dreamed of doing, archeology! Obviously, with her pet cat Isis by her side, despite her mother's protestations. When they arrive in Cairo though, the angry people milling about does tend to put a damper on the Egyptological fervor. The Nationalist Party is holding a demonstration, one of many to cause an inconvenience. Her mother needs to check in at the Museum, as does Theo, though, not so much with Maspero, but with the Brotherhood of the Chosen Keepers and their subterranean headquarters. But the Keepers in Egypt are very different from those in England. Here they are the front line, not the last defense. So it's more offense than defense, and Theo is not quite sure she's willing to embrace those methods. That's until she sees von Braggenschnott posing as a member of the museum staff, a Mr. Borscht, and having a cup of tea with her mother! Trying to flee the museum is harder than you'd think. There's another rally and they resort to taking Donkey's. Theo's driver is a little hunchback boy, Gadji, and he proves himself very wise in the ways of the street... and very cunning, his "hump" is his pet monkey, Sefu.

The next day they travel to Luxor, and surprisingly so does Gadji and Sefu, his family was originally from there. Which makes Gadji the perfect tour guide for her when Theo's playing sick. Because what other explanation could she give her mother for not wanting to scramble around in the dirt looking for hidden temples? But she must meet her contact here, a Major Grindle, and get the trade off set up at the temple with the wedjadeen. The trade off goes pretty well, despite all the threats that she shouldn't be allowed to live, even if the wedjadeen take an unusual interest in Gadji. Things can't remain so simple for long, the Serpents of Chaos are stirring the natives for more uprisings, and soon they kidnap Gadji in order to get the Emerald Tablet, which they apparently don't realize Theo already got ride of. Another trade is set up, which goes horridly wrong and ends with Theo and Major Grindle in the hands of the wedjadeen. They know too many secrets and their lives now hang in the balance. But will Theo's powers and her destiny be able to save herself and all those in danger? Most importantly of all, will she get answers as to what she actually is?

The Last Pharaoh is everything I expected from Rick Riordan's Kane Chronicles that it failed to deliver. Theo's world is expanding and becoming more complex, but in a way that is natural. Robin has not forced the change, she has gradually led us to it in the most wonderful journey yet. Instead of being trapped within the confines of the museum and having Theo playing all her contacts off one another, here we have a true Egyptian adventure. All the books have been leading to this one. Temples with true power, statues that come alive, where Theo's magic really comes from. All of this is woven together in a plausible yet magical way. You don't have to suspend your belief to be satisfied by the ending. At first I did have some misgivings. Gadji was very much like an Egyptian Sticky Will with a monkey instead of a snotty younger brother. But I should have trusted that Robin knew what she was doing and the plot twist, I did not see coming. Plus Theo's connection to Isis made my heart yearn for a cat in my life again. The only problem I now face is how will I wait for the next installment. Will Theo begin training? Will the wedjadeen and the Chosen Keepers embrace their shared goals and heritage and work together to defeat chaos. As we crawl ever closer to the first World War, I wonder how Chaos and all their evil little Germans will fit in. But as long as I get my Egyptian fix I will be a satisfied reader.


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