Monday, July 28, 2014

Favorites Spotlight

Favorites Spotlight:  The Amelia Peabody Series, by Elizabeth Peters

# of Books in Series: 19
Genre: Mystery, historical fiction
Words to Describe This Series: witty, fun, adventurous, historically accurate, well-written

The author, Elizabeth Peters
I first read this series back when I was a teenager (14 or 15, I can’t remember); my library had the first installment of the series on audiobook, and I was interested in Ancient Egypt, so I gave it a try. 

And I loved it!  The book was so much fun, and the protagonist is a character you can’t help but love.  So I went and found the second book in the series.  Then the third…then the fourth....  Pretty soon I was going to other libraries to find the rest of the books in the series, the ones my library didn’t have.  It took some time, but eventually I managed to read every single book in the series in chronological order, with the exception of the latest one, and I’m on my way to remedy that.
At one point I was able to read some of this.

This is a series whose books I’ve reread again and again.  Before I read this series, I was only mildly intrigued by Egyptology.  These books pushed me into becoming an Egyptology nerd.  I listened to Bob Brier’s audio-lectures on the history of Ancient Egypt…three times.  At every museum I visited, I headed straight for the Ancient Egypt exhibit.  Thanks to these books, I learned how to read hieroglyphs.  They even influenced my decision to minor in archaeology in college.

These books had a big impact on my life when I was younger.  Now I’m an adult in my twenties, and while my dreams of becoming a world-famous archaeologist didn’t pan out, I still love reading these books.

Amelia Peabody Emerson
So what makes these books so awesome?  Well, first there’s our clever protagonist, Amelia Peabody Emerson.  She is witty, stubborn, and a feminist in the Victorian era.  She refuses to fit in with societal norms, choosing instead to become a parasol-carrying, bad-guy-fighting archaeologist, and works as an equal alongside her irascible, yet dashing husband, Radcliffe Emerson. 

You also can’t forget their talented son, Walter “Ramses” Emerson.  Ramses makes his debut in book #2 The Curse Of The Pharaohs as a precocious 4-year-old boy.  As the series progresses, he goes from being a gifted yet rambunctious
little boy, to a handsome, intelligent man of many talents.  When I was younger I had a little book crush on the adult Ramses, still do as a matter of fact.
What Ramses would look like in real life
The Emersons aren’t the only loveable characters.  Elizabeth Peters provides us with numerous characters to fall in love with: Abdullah, Evelyn, Selim, David Todros, and Nefret Forth, to name only a few.  All of the characters are very well-developed, to the point that they become real to the reader.  You want to keep reading the books just so you can find out what happens to them.

The setting is another reason to love these books.  The series take place both in Egypt and in England, starting in the year 1884 and ending with the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922.  You are transported back in time to the Golden Age of Egyptology, where big names such as Wallis Budge and Howard Carter regularly make guest appearances, and where you are thoroughly engulfed in the cultures and traditions of that time.  Peters did an excellent job researching this time period, I think.  From what I can tell, everything is very accurate.  And I really appreciated how Peters respects the native Egyptians in these novels.  In the books, many Egyptian characters are given more respect than some of the archaeologists, and the Muslim community is shown to be really colorful and even beautiful.  I just really love how the author portrays every aspect of that time period without fault.

They're just as much fun as the Indiana Jones movies
Reason number three to love this series: the story itself!  These books are always exciting and fun.  There’s a little bit of everything: humor, mystery, adventure, romance.  These books are like the Indiana Jones movies, except instead of just one archaeologist, there’s a whole family of them!  

Overall, there’s just so much that this series has for a reader to enjoy.  Sure, like any long-lasting series, the books start to get tiresome after a while, and you read the final books more out of necessity than for pleasure, but every installment in this series has something good to offer.  I would strongly recommend these novels for just about anyone, but particularly to lovers of mystery and historical fiction.  And if you aren’t sold by the first book, at the very least try the sequel.  I think the second book is the best introductory example to what the entire series has to offer, and if you don't like it after that, ah well.

Enjoy everybody!


  1. Nice review! Makes me want to read them.

  2. Gosh, ever since you posted your reviews on Bibliophile on these books I've been telling myself to read this series! Wonderful post!