The Amelia Peabody Series

"I always say that if one cannot have a pyramid, a nice deep tomb is the next best thing." Amelia Peabody (Photo by Yassin Hassan | Creative Commons

“I always say that if one cannot have a pyramid, a nice deep tomb is the next best thing.” Amelia Peabody (Photo by Yassin Hassan | Creative Commons)

Review:

One of my favorite series! Though I had issues with some of the later books, overall this is an extremely fun and enjoyable historical mystery series, starring a female Egyptologist and her family in the late 19th through early 20th centuries. The mysteries themselves are mostly pretty good, but I love the series most for its humor. Expect to laugh frequently and loudly! The novels are among the most quotable I’ve ever read, from recurring catch phrases like “Another shirt ruined!” to Amelia’s pithy observations on life. (There are good collections of quotes here and here.)

Correction: I love it for the humor, and the characters. Amelia, Emerson, Ramses, Sethos, and the rest are larger than life, but so entertaining and (frequently) adorable that they’re irresistible. Reading about their latest adventures is like catching up with old friends. Amelia and Emerson in particular are rumored to be part of the inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones, as well as Rick O’Connell and Evy Carnahan in The Mummy.

Series author Elizabeth Peters, who died in 2013, had a Ph.D in Egyptology, so you’ll also learn interesting stuff about Egyptian culture and archaeology along the way.

Here’s the complete series, with my commentary:

 TitlePublication order and dateChronological order and dateDescription


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Crocodile on the Sandbank1 - 19751 - 1884–85A very enjoyable introduction to the series


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The Curse of the Pharoahs2 - 19812 - 1892–93Possibly my favorite in the series - hilarious!


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The Mummy Case3 - 19853 - 1894–95Enjoyable, but not as memorable as the first two. Our first introduction to Sethos.


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Lion in the Valley4 - 19864 - 1895–96More Sethos, which is always a good thing.


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Deeds of the Disturber5 - 19885 - 1896The weakest of the early books


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The Last Camel Died at Noon6 - 19916 - 1897–98A lot of people seem to consider this their favorite book in the series, but to be honest, I was a bit meh about it. Not bad, but not as good as some of the others, imho.


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The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog7 - 19927 - 1898–99It's been awhile since I re-read this one, but I remember enjoying it. Emerson gets kidnapped and Amelia gets a new suitor.


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The Hippopotamus Pool8 - 19968 - 1899–1900The introduction of David Todros. Again, it's been awhile since I re-read this one, but I remember enjoying it.


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Seeing a Large Cat9 - 19979 - 1903–04One of my favorites in the series, and the introduction of Ramses as heart-throb. And lord, is he ever! One of my biggest literary crushes ever.


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The Ape Who Guards the Balance10 - 199810 - 1906–07Another I haven't re-read for awhile and don't remember very well


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The Falcon at the Portal11 - 199913 - 1911-12This is where the series started falling apart a bit, in my opinion. I thought Nefret acted really out of character and I hate it when problems that could be solved by 5 minutes of rational conversation get dragged on and on. It felt like angst for angst's sake, and I didn't appreciate it. My opinion of Nefret has never really recovered, and it even damaged my emotional investment in the series as a whole.


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He Shall Thunder in the Sky12 - 200015 - 1914–15The contrived angst between Ramses and Nefret continued to annoy me, but at least there was lots of Sethos to make up for it


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Lord of the Silent13 - 200116 - 1915–16Only read once and don't remember very well


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The Golden One14 - 200217 - 1916–17Only read once and don't remember very well


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Children of the Storm15 - 200318 - 1919–20Didn't enjoy it that much - Ramses and Nefret's kids were outwardly Ramses-like, but annoying rather than charming, much like some of the cat Bastet's descendants, who marred some of the earlier books with their irritating presence. I guess magic can't strike twice.


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Guardian of the Horizon16 - 200411 - 1907–08HATED IT. Oh my god. Character assassination on multiple fronts - why would she do this to her own characters? Mostly, I try to pretend I never read it and it doesn't exist.


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The Serpent on the Crown17 - 200519 - 1922–23Haven't read


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Tomb of the Golden Bird18 - 200620 - 1922–23Haven't read


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A River in the Sky19 - 201012 - 1910Haven't read


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The Painted Queen20 - 201514 - 1912–13This title will be released in April 2015

Although I haven’t had the chance to read it, you may also want to check out Amelia Peabody’s Egypt: A Compendium.

My rating: (4 / 5)

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