Book Review: “The Emperor’s Tomb” by Steve Berry

Legend has it that China is where man first started drinking tea. It’s a land with a long history, much of which is unknown outside its borders. Tea, however, is one of the things that for centuries has been traded with, and therefore connected China to, other countries and peoples of the world. Connect further with this land of the inscrutable through a fast-paced adventure called The Emperor’s Tomb, the latest in a series by Steve Berry.

If you want a history of China, this isn’t it. If you want to read something while you sip your pu-erh, Keemun Panda, Silver Needle, Dragonwell, Iron Goddess Oolong, or other variety of Chinese tea, and get a fictionalized glimpse of the land they come from, The Emperor’s Tomb is a great choice. (Of course, Amsterdam and Belgium see some of the action, too.) I must confess to not being a fan of the action adventure genre, but I was so intrigued by the synopsis of this one that I took a chance — and definitely wasn’t disappointed!

As the latest in a series, this novel references events in those earlier tomes. However, even though I haven’t read them, I didn’t feel lost for the most part, only a bit ahead of things should I decide to catch up by reading the earlier works.

One disappointment is that, while the author names quite a few technological wonders that were done first in China, tea is not included, despite its impact on the world, and is indeed barely mentioned at all (just a couple of passing references to someone drinking tea near the end of the book). This was only a minor issue, though. A more annoying aspect was a mechanism the writer overused: jumping back and forth between different points of action, especially near the end of the book. Liken this to a film editor chopping up the cuts so fast that it’s hard to follow the events. (At least with a book, if you get a bit muddled, you can go back and reread.) In a way, this style made the ending a bit anti-climatic.

Don’t miss the section at the back of the book where the author tells about the various true items he wove into the fiction of the plot. You might want to read this first, but don’t worry, it won’t spoil the story and the ending for you.

In case you’re wondering, I went for the Iron Goddess Oolong and some Maria cookies to sip and munch as I read. Yum!

Make sure to stop by A.C.’s blog, Tea Time with A.C. Cargill!

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