Book Reviews

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With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels; 
one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!

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The Exodus Quest by Will Adams

Reviewed on: August 1, 2022


HarperCollins Publishers:  London
2008 (PB)

Following on the heels of the 2007 publication of The Alexander Cipher (reviewed here in September, 2009), author Will Adams continued the adventures of his slightly seedy but basically honorable archaeologist hero, Daniel Knox, in The Exodus Quest.

An earthenware bowl catches the attention of Knox as he strolls through a street bazaar in Alexandria, Egypt.  The young vendor explains that it was found by a friend working an archaeological excavation near Lake Mariut, a brackish body of water not far from Alexandria. To identify the artifact,  Knox seeks the aid of his friend Omar Tawfiq, recently named the interim head of the Supreme Council for Antiquities in Alexandria; their scanning of the Supreme Council’s database yields a stunning result:  the “bowl” is actually a lid from storage jars utilized to preserve the proto-biblical “Dead Sea Scrolls,” hidden by the Essenes, a pious Jewish sect from around the time of Christ, in the caves of Qumran, in the West Bank area of Israel.  But why was such an artifact, so intimately associated with ancient Israel, found in an Egyptian archaeological site. 

The discovery sets Knox on a quest of his own to solve the riddle posed by this anomaly and, unhappily for him, brings him into conflict with corrupt Egyptian antiquities authorities as well as an American archaeological field school run by an impassioned religious zealot, who is seeking much more than simply providing a training school for eager young biblical archaeologists.  These sinister forces threaten not only Knox and his associates, but also his dear friend, Gaille Bonnard, who is providing archaeological expertise to the efforts of media celebrity Charles Stafford, who is researching a book and TV documentary that will promulgate a new interpretation of the “heretic pharaoh” Akhnaten: that the Biblical Moses and Akhnaten were one and the same, and that there was a direct line of descent from Akhnaten’s Amarna cult to the Biblical Exodus to the Qumran Essenes of Christ’s time, even though there was a thousand years that separated them!

The action comes fast and furious as Knox, battered and bruised by enemies and the elements, battles to save Gaille in a thrilling denouement in subterranean chambers that have hidden the fabled treasure of Akhenaten for more than 3,000 years.  Amidst the Indiana Jones-esque derring-do of Daniel Knox there are intriguing discussions and meditations on the syncretism of ancient religions and cultures—Egyptian, Hebrew, Greek, the Gnostics and early Christians.  As in the earlier The Alexander Cipher, Will Adams spins a great yarn and seamlessly works in fascinating bits of ancient history and myth. 

Three trowels for  The Exodus Quest.

Twenty Years in the Trenches: Archaeology in Fiction

William Gresens, longtime MVAC supporter and volunteer, has been writing reviews of archaeological fiction as MVAC’s book reviewer for twenty years.  In this interview Bill shares how he got started writing reviews for MVAC, how the genre has changed, highlights, and his thoughts looking forward. 

Bill Gresen’s Book Review 20th Anniversary

While Bill's reviews go back 20 years now, his relationship with MVAC goes back more than twice that long! The reviews capture some of the things we enjoy most about Bill-- he's perceptive, methodical, a clear thinker, and a whole lot of fun! We look forward to this relationship--and Bill's reviews!--continuing for many years to come.

The March 2021 review marks the 20th anniversary of reviews of archaeological fiction.  It has been my pleasure and great fun to while away the hours reading these books—for the most part, at least—and writing the reviews!  My thanks to MVAC allowing me to prattle on and I look forward to the years ahead.

Bill Gresens