Raiders of the Nile


Fresh from his daring exploits in The Seven Wonders, the young Gordianus finds himself in Alexandria – “the most exciting city on earth” – with coins in his pocket and the beautiful slave girl Bethesda to keep him entertained. With not a little swagger, Gordianus sets out on his birthday to sightsee in Egypt’s glamorous capital, with Bethesda dutifully in tow. But Alexandria is seething with political discontent, as members of the Ptolemy family tussle for the throne, and the powers of Rome wait in the wings to pounce on the divided kingdom. When Bethesda is kidnapped, Gordianus is forced to put his budding mystery-solving skills to the test in a mission that will take him headlong into naval battles and tomb robberies – and might just teach him to value the things he has come to take for granted.

This prequel to Steven Saylor’s acclaimed mystery series offers a younger and brasher version of the acclaimed Roman detective, with much still to learn. While the Finder’s trademark self-importance occasionally verges on off-putting arrogance in this 22-year-old guise, that is a character flaw easily forgiven as Saylor takes the reader on a spirited tour of 1st-century BC Alexandria. As usual, Saylor serves up ample doses of political intrigue along with all the trimmings of daily life in the ancient world. The result is a clean, fast-paced plot, proving irresistible from the very first line, and leaving the reader the wiser for the experience.

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