Jackson, James - 'The Guardians of the Covenant' (translated by Kari Dickson)
THE GUARDIANS OF THE COVENANT is fascinating. It tantalizingly drip-feeds you tasty morsels of information and it takes a while to piece everything together. The prologue is a brief description of an unknown 'someone' in Egypt being executed by poisoning and then the plot suddenly switches to an old Viking writing his memoirs by candlelight in a monastery. His sight is failing him and he struggles to see what he is writing of his days serving his king.
Although chapters occasionally swap between time frames, the main thrust of the book is set in modern times, with Bjorn Belto, a young archeologist, solving cryptic clues and hunting for ancient manuscripts and an old Egyptian mummy. His travels take him to Rome and Egypt, as well as various old churches and caves in Iceland. He is helped or hindered by a variety of different folk along the way and it is delightfully impossible to work out their motives or which side they are on straight away. It also takes the reader a while to work out who the mummy is or why he is so important to the people that want to kill Bjorn and stop him finding out the secret.
Translated from Norwegian by Kari Dickson, this book is superb. Full of twists and turns and things to think about, it keeps you guessing right until the very end, with a finale that has you gasping with surprise and delight. An original idea and a well-executed novel, THE GUARDIANS OF THE COVENANT should keep you hooked from cover to cover.
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland
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