Sunday, February 22, 2009

Land of Marvels, by Barry Unsworth

Well, ye socks, I just finished this novel about pre-WWI Iraq.

And, I struggled to get thru it.

Basically, it's the tale of a British archaeologist named John Somerville who is running out of time in his quest to unearth an ancient tomb in the Mesopotamian desert.

He has to contend both with an advancing German railroad that threatens to lay its tracks right thru the excavation site, and with violent competing oil interests.

Sounds like exciting stuff, right.


Unsworth's writing style is like a car with a bad transmission. There's a lot of higgety-jerk. Parts of it read fast, and advance the plot line(s). But, other parts are slow--full of excruciating details that simply are not as fascinating as he evidently thinks they are and do nothing to develop his nearly-one-dimensional characters.

In fact, I didn't care a whit that four of the main characters were vaporized at the end of this arduous tale.

Save your time and weary eyes, and leave this book on the shelf.



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