Land of Marvels, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


1914, and an English archaeologist called Somerville is fulfilling a lifelong dream: to direct an excavation in the desert of Mesopotamia.

Yet forces beyond his control threaten his work. The Great War is looming, and various interest groups are vying for control over the land and its manyprizes. And Somerville, whose intention is purely to discover and preserve the land's ancient treasures finds his idealism sorely tested.

Naked ambition, treachery and greed are at play, in a thrilling adventure from the master of the historical novel.


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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

Picked this up along with several other library book possibilities for a 'U' author to read. Didn't expect it to grab me but it easily hooked me in for the first half of the book. After that though I found it easy to put down again. Everyone else seems to concur that the ending is faster moving than the beginning but I lost interest as the book went on. Probably one of those 'It's not the book, it's just me' things!

Review by

Can't really fault this book. Other reviewers seem to dislike the slow pace at the beginning but, for me, this just added to the depth and set up the themes brilliantly. In fact there was a slight danger of slipping into farce when the momentum started to get going in earnest towards the end but this was cleverly avoided. The theme of falsehood and truth was given a thorough workout on many, many different levels - international relations, historical, personal relationships, war, politics (I could go on). One of my favourite reads of the past few years.

Review by

In this novel of Mesopotamia in 1914, a stiff upper lipped Englishman is in charge of an archaeological dig, but those confounded chaps intent on organising a war won’t let him get on with it and it’s a dashed nuisance. And if that weren’t enough there’s an awful lot of bally nonsense over oil.Enter the loquacious American oil man, like an early version of George Dubya, the sort of guy who in a film would have been played by Clint Eastwood or somesuch, and who has clearly been introduced to shake everyone up and sleep with people he shouldn’t.The characters line up like an Agatha Christie murder mystery – there’s even the old army man with a toothbrush moustache, and elegant lady wife in her sunhat who actively participates in her own repression. The cast are assembled, and there will obviously be some kind of dramatic interplay between them but it’s not clear until things really get going at the end who’s meant to be the goody and who will be the baddie.So far so good, but my main problem with the novel was that the early stages were too slow. All those lengthy descriptions of archaeological artefacts made my eyes glaze over like an Assyrian vase. If only some of the drama of those closing scenes could have been relocated this would have been as great as the blurb suggested.

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