The Three Emperors: An Ethan Gage Adventure
When last seen by the British Navy and Napoleon’s drowning sailors, diplomat, double agent, gambler and treasure hunter Ethan Gage was sinking beneath the waves during the tragic end of the Battle of Trafalgar. His wife, the Egyptian seer Astiza, and their son Harry had narrowly escaped during the French Revolution from a prison beneath the Louvre and were on their way to seek a rare artifact in Prague. Ethan wanted nothing more than to leave spying and intrigue behind and join his family, but first he had to track them down. He had slipped ashore and assumed the identify of Hieronymus Franklin, a distant cousin of his late friend and mentor, Benjamin Franklin, to head toward Bohemia, Astiza’s destination. Together, they would track down the mysterious artifact coveted by Napoleon, collect the bounty and retire to a peaceful, leisurely family life.
If you’ve followed the adventures of this 18th-century American sharpshooter hero, you can be certain that peace and leisure are not in the cards --- not even his wife’s Tarot deck, which she regularly interprets to suit her purpose. Ethan heads alone toward central Europe in an effort to get ahead of Emperor Bonaparte’s advancing land forces, but too late finds himself in the front lines of the French army on its way to conquering the Austrian and Russian Empires.
"[I]f you happen to fall in love with Ethan this late in his adventures, rest assured there are six other page-turners to take with you to the beach."
Meanwhile, Astiza and Harry fall into the hands of a ruthless alchemist in the Golden Lane of Prague, where they are imprisoned in an underground cave. Astiza, whose mystic powers precede her, is commanded to fulfill the alchemist’s dream of turning lead into gold, as the evil dwarf holds Harry hostage. Like the legendary Scheherazade, she works diligently all day, then destroys her work each night, spinning out their lives by begging for more time to perfect the mysterious method. She knows the feat is impossible, but even if she could accomplish this miracle, she is certain that she and Harry will still die the ghastly death promised by the dwarf and his master.
This historical thriller is told alternately from Ethan’s and Astiza’s points of view as they both struggle against impossible odds to remain alive and find one another. They must apply every shred of wit, skill and deception in their repertoire to survive.
William Dietrich has created a truly unique hero in Ethan Gage, who began his unlikely life as a roguish American gambler in NAPOLEON'S PYRAMIDS. He wins a mysterious gem in a card game that leads him to reluctantly join Napoleon’s secret invasion of Egypt. He is pressed to help Napoleon, a greedy collector of rare artifacts, when the gem is purported to be the key to a pyramid filled with riches. Ethan’s fate seems forever entwined with the megalomaniac Bonaparte through five more bestselling swashbucklers as he struggles with his own less than partisan view of world domination and wealth. He attracts adventure, beautiful women and clandestine treasure wherever he goes until he meets the mysterious and beautiful Astiza.
THE THREE EMPERORS is number seven in the series. If you haven’t read the earlier tales, Dietrich fills in the gaps sufficiently to figure out who’s who. But if you happen to fall in love with Ethan this late in his adventures, rest assured there are six other page-turners to take with you to the beach.
Reviewed by Roz Shea on May 23, 2014