Wednesday, January 07, 2004

The Lost Army of Cambyses by Paul Sussman

Review by Maureen Carlyle

"Cambyses, a Persian emperor who conquered Egypt, sent his army across the desert in 523 BC to attack the remote oasis of Siwa, site of the Oracle of Ammon, later immortalised by Alexander the Great. They never arrived. No-one knows to this day what became of them, but the most likely theory is that they were overcome and buried by a violent sandstorm. What if traces of the lost army were actually found, and details of the discovery were never reported to the correct authorities in the Antiquities Department? And what if a charismatic fundamentalist got to hear about it, and decided to use it for his own ends? "

"The plot is well carried through, with some excellent twists towards the end. It is sometimes far-fetched – for instance, Khalifa sets off into the Western Desert in a borrowed land-cruiser without any previous experience of desert driving, and only gets stuck in the sand once. There are other instances I can’t mention without revealing the plot. But this is Harrison Ford country, so who cares."

"Paul Sussman’s knowledge of Egypt – past and present – is really impressive."
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