Review: The Alexander Cipher – Will Adams

Series : Daniel Knox 1

My version: Paperback
Genre: Fiction, action, adventure
First published: 2007
ISBN: 9780007250875
Pages: 517

From the cover:
Egyptologist Daniel Knox’s lifelong fascination with Alexander the Great and his tomb, a fabled wonder of the ancient world, could be the death of him. After construction workers excavating in Alexandria expose a catacomb dating back to ancient times, Knox eagerly sneaks in to scout the cavernous and dusty site. Among the relics he finds clues that may solve one of the world’s greatest mysteries: the last resting place of Alexander the Great.
An unconquerable warrior king, Alexander was the single most powerful man on the planet and thought to be a god. Now, nearly 2,500 years later, the discovery of his tomb, seemingly lost forever, is within reach, triggering a deadly hunt for one of the greatest treasures of all time. Knox is not the only seeker; others are after the prize, and they would kill to win it …

Robert Ludlum, in a tv interview I saw once, said that he always gave his books three word titles. Bang, bang, bang. Was the impression he wanted to give, as I remember. Easy to remember and all unnecessary fat, pared away. Like his writing style really.

Whenever I see a paperback book with a three word title, I think of Robert Ludlum. And having read more than my fair share of that sort of thing down the years; I’d say that that is unarguably how the various post-Robert Ludlum authors want us to think.

Few match up, beyond the titles, however.

Will Adams, for instance.

It’s an interesting book, interesting theme – the hunt for, and of course the finding of, the final resting place of Alexander the Great. Our hero – Knox – I think has featured in a previous Will Adams book I’ve read, can’t be sure. He’s a pretty normal guy, maybe a little less normal than you and I, in that he knows his archaeological onions, but he’s no gun-toting, hard-hitting superman. That’s good.

But beyond the surface of the story; not so good. After the general themes are clear – possibly mad old Macedonian family (super-rich, of course), want to find Alexander the Great’s body/tomb/treasure to bring back to Macedonia (anyone can surely tell you that his wish to be buried close to his father, wasn’t carried out as we would think of it, his ‘father’ having a different meaning to those with control over his body back then), so that it can be used to gather all Macedonians under their banner and start a war to create an independent Macedonian state. It really doesn’t pay to think too much in this direction. And it would seem that that has also applied to Will Adams.

It also grates that even relatively minor characters are so well versed in ancient history/archaeology and classical history and literature, to be able to have quick-fire discussions involving instant recal of all sorts of minor details about even the most insignificant Classical figures. Involving dates, rumours, connections from history and modern research. Eyes were casted to ceilings a few times while reading this kind of thing, I can assure you.

What is good, beyond the book’s concept, is that the love-interest is kept to an minimum and is not really an integral part of the plot. There’s a fair bit of action and the characters tastes in luxury rarely extend beyond a warm bath and some clean clothes. It is also nice that Adams is developing the thought that Alexander the Great’s body was used for personal advantage back in (or just after, really) his own time, just as it undoubtedly would be today. But that’s maybe a concept too far, for a book of this genre.

I read it ok, I have one other of Adams’ on my iPad and I’ll read that as well. I like this sort of thing and I go in with my eyes open. If you’re after something to divert you for a couple of days, it’ll do the job. It’s no work of literature. It’s no Robert Ludlum either. But then, what is?

You can buy The Alexander Cipher from The Book Depository

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