Nile Shadows (The Jerusalem Quartet)

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On the other hand, science fiction author and critic Thomas M. The original editions failed to achieve commercial success; about 3, hardcover and 10, paperback copies of each novel were sold. Whittemore was jealous of his privacy and refused to give interviews to "unknown correspondents," an attitude that hampered his publisher's promotion effort. Edward Whittemore spent the final years of his life in poverty. He died on August 3, in New York City , shortly after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. Out of print for many years, all five books were reissued in by Old Earth Books.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For American poet, see Reed Whittemore. This article needs additional citations for verification.

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But the delirious baron and baroness heard neither him nor the airplane. The great red ball on the horizon had hypnotized them with the heat it sent rushing through their aging bodies. Gaily the plane dipped its wings in salute to the most impressive monument ever reared by man, then gracefully rolled away and sped on south Cairo Martyr got to his feet, not believing what he saw. The nearly invisible man and woman still stood on the summit with their arms outstretched, but now they were headless, cleanly decapitated by the slashing lowest wing of the triplane.

The hulking bodies lingered a few seconds longer, then slowly toppled over and disappeared down the far side of the pyramid. This image is followed by an even more audacious idea. The poker game lasts 12 years and as it unfolds Whittemore tells the stories of all three players, almost incidentally telling the history of the Levant as well.


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The intertwined tapestry formed by the present interacting with the past is stunning in its complexity, but also in its ability to entertain us. Nor can I overstate the way in which absurdity and the serious commingle in this novel. They have earned their colorful eccentricities, often quite poignantly. Whittemore also earned his extraordinary life. While the dual tragedy of Whittemore's life was the relative brevity of that life and the short half-life of his books on bookstore shelves, many of us would trade ours for his, I think. It is what distinguishes them in many ways from other espionage fictions: a level of verisimilitude, the sense of someone who has peered beneath the surface leading you through the canyons and up the mountains of history.

Stern, the son of Plantagenet Strongbow, an English adventurer, hopes to one day create a homeland shared in peace by Muslims, Jews, and Christians. That he never accomplishes this goal, that he descends into the irony of running guns between different groups, always still hoping for the peace that becomes more distant with each new mission, is one of the book's saddest statements about the Middle East.

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The discovery of "the oldest Bible in the world" that "denies every religious truth ever held by anyone" in the first book of the Quartet, Sinai Tapestry , is yet another of Whittemore's statements. Instead, he gets his point across with such extended absurdities as a bible created by a madman or through the actions of characters whose ideals become diluted through time, experience, and disappointment.

In this sense, Sinai Tapestry could be termed the most hopeful of the novels, the most like an eccentric adventure or journey, at least at the beginning. It follows the exploits of Plantogenet Strongbow, "an English-born adventurer who becomes a Muslim holy man and finally, on the eve of World War I, the secret ruler of the Ottoman Empire.

The Jerusalem Quartet: Sinai Tapestry, Jerusalem Poker, Nile Shadows, and Jericho Mosaic

That Strongbow's son Stern may fail in his goals does not seem assured. There is also the wonderful sense of humor Whittemore brings to Sinai Tapestry as well as Jerusalem Poker and, to a lesser extent, the last two novels of the Quartet. Among Strongbow's exploits is his documentation, in 23 volumes, of Levantine sex: Strongbow's study was the most exhaustive sexual exploration ever made.

The evidence throughout was balanced in the Victorian manner. Yet the facts were still implacable, the sense and nonsense inescapable, the conclusions terminal. However, despite these touches, Sinai Tapestry ends with the brutal intrusion of history. Some scenes, such as Whittemore's portrayal of the bloody genocide at Smyrna in , shock as much as anything in literature.

If the final two volumes of the Quartet are more subdued and more thoughtful, then it may be due to the change in the time of the setting. Nile Shadows takes place mostly in , in an Egypt threatened by Rommel, while Jericho Mosaic details the life and exploits of a deep cover agent between and the late s.

Encyclopedia of Fantasy () – Whittemore, Edward

As the novels progress toward the present, they begin to take on more "reality" and shake off the veneer, the exotic gloss, of the earlier novels. In a sense, this makes them of less interest to fantasy readers, but I find it unlikely that anyone who has read Sinai Tapestry and Jerusalem Poker will be able to resist them. Nile Shadows may be the most dialogue-rich of Whittemore's novels, but it also has the most explosive opening pages.

After a grenade is lobbed into a Cairo bar, British agents must investigate the identity and purpose of the only man killed by the explosion. The depiction of the initial intelligence gathering, and the event itself, is breathless and has the effect of a degree camera sweep in a movie, with shifting points of view. Whittemore's CIA experience is even more palpable in this book as we are initiated into the rituals and the dangers of such work.

Others have said it before, but there's no harm in repetition: This may be the most haunting portrait of a spy in the history of literature. Every nuance, every description feels ultra-real.

Nile Shadows (The Jerusalem Quartet) Nile Shadows (The Jerusalem Quartet)
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Nile Shadows (The Jerusalem Quartet) Nile Shadows (The Jerusalem Quartet)
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