A historical novel set in 45 B.C. Damon's medical training under the Pharaoh's own physician didn't prepare him for his mother's last illness--or for the adventure that follows. Damon must travel from Alexandria all the way to Spain, where his father is fighting in Caesar's army, to deliver the news of his mother's death to the father he hardly knows. Soon the quiet, studious Damon and his best friend, the soldierly Artemas, are caught up in danger and intrigue--from shipwreck and shark attack to the political maneuverings of Cleopatra, Cicero, and Caesar. Fast-paced and suspenseful, this compelling historical novel combines page-turning excitement with a well-researched portrait of the ancient world.
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Jill Rubalcaba, author of A PLACE IN THE SUN, UNCEGILA'S SEVENTH SPOT, and ST. VITUS' DANCE, lives in Haddam, Connecticut.From School Library Journal:
Grade 5-8-A story set in Alexandria, Egypt, in 45 B.C. Damon's mother has just died, and because the priests believe she had the plague, they refuse to touch her. It is then up to Damon, who studied at the medical school, to embalm her. After his friend Artemas convinces him that he must deliver the news of his mother's death to his Roman-soldier father, who is off fighting with Caesar, the two young men set off for the battlefields of Spain. They set sail on a merchant ship that sinks in a vortex, jump ship just in time, suffer extreme hardships, and are rescued by Cleopatra. She persuades them to spy for her in return for safe passage to Spain, and Damon is eventually reunited with his long-lost father. There are many references to Egyptian gods, architecture, and daily life that leave readers needing some background to understand the context. While the story is slow to get going, the action picks up quickly after the teens are attacked by sharks. There are several gruesome scenes that may appeal to certain readers, including a detailed depiction of the embalming process, a gory day at the Circus Maximus, and the medical tent on the battlefield. While the plot coincidences are entirely too perfect, the story does work as an action adventure for reluctant readers, and there is enough historical minutiae to encourage further reading.
Angela J. Reynolds, Washington County Cooperative Library Services, Aloha, OR
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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