My rating: 5 of 5 stars
You really need to point at Book 6 of the Amelia Peabodies, The Last Camel Died at Noon, as one of the pivotal books of the series–because it’s here that arguably the most important character in the entire cast (aside from, of course, the Emersons themselves) is introduced. The Last Camel Died at Noon is the book that introduces Nefret, and it’s the tale of how the Emersons discover and rescue her from a lost civilization deep in the Sudan.
It’s this book as well where Peters starts throwing around references to H. Rider Haggard, and in particular, King Solomon’s Mines. Amelia harks back a lot to Haggard’s writing as she tells the reader all about what proves to be one of the Emersons’ most exotic adventures ever. Word comes to them that the explorer Willoughby Forth, long presumed to have been lost in the desert along with his young wife, may not actually have died–and that, moreover, the lost oasis they were seeking might actually exist. The Emersons are begged by Forth’s father and cousin to go in search of proof of his eventual fate; the Emersons being who they are, they agree. But the journey is deeply perilous, and after the deaths of their camels, abandonment by their men, and the threat of illness and thirst and heatstroke, they are rescued by the people of the very civilization Forth had set out to locate.
What happens when they get there–and how Nefret comes into it–I won’t say because that’d be hugely spoilerrific. Suffice to say that there is political and social intrigue, treachery from several quarters, and Amelia getting the biggest shock of her life when Ramses encounters someone who can actually make him shut up. Five stars.