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The Tower by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

The Tower (1996)

by Valerio Massimo Manfredi

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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
I gave up on this book at page 150something as I got more and more bored. The characters weren't interesting, the story is kind of confused and not at all what I expected ( )
  Releanna | Apr 10, 2013 |
Let me start by saying I didn't think this book was too bad, although I seem to be in the minority there. A fantasy action adventure does not need to be great literature or full of memorable, believable characters as long as it is fast paced and exciting: The Tower suceeds in both those regards.

Manfredi is renowned as a writer of historical novels but neither this nor the only other of his books I have read [the Oracle] is set in the ancient world, although both explore a mystery which is rooted deep in the past. I must add one of the reasons I was pleasurably surprised by The Tower is that I really loathed The Oracle and find this later read infinitely better.

The story starts with a Roman legion travelling deep in the Sahara desert when it is attacked by mysterious creatures and is destroyed with the exception of one man who returns to tell the tale but is buried in Pompeii together with his account when Versuvius erupts. Fast forward to the 1930s when American scholar Phillip Garrett is informed by the Foreign Legion that his father, who vanished into the desert some ten years before, might be alive and in the Sahara.

As a subplot, the Vatican have tasked Marconi with building some sort of super wireless reciever that can pick up signals from deep space - signals coming from extraterrestrials or possibly [hence the Catholic Church's interest] from God himself? As is now par for the course, the senior priest is ruthless, secretive and completely without empathy: he is not in fact a Jesuit but employs a degree of cunning and heartless manipulation that popular literature likes to associate with the order.

Phillip follows clues left by his dad which lead him first to the vatican, then to a buried house in Pompeii, then finally into the desert where he has all sorts of adventures, including rescuing and falling in love with a beautiful woman who just happens to be queen of a hidden oasis. Unknown to the rest of the world, the oasis kingdom is at war with an inhuman species of warriors who resemble the legendary Blennyae, the race with no head whose faces resided on their chests.

Phillip, in an amazing series of co-incidences, does somehow find his long lost dad in the vast expanse of the Middle Eastern deserts - never actually quite sure where the story is set, North Africa or around Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea - then squares off against the Blennyae while the solitary tower [which is never properly explained] recieves the message from God or from aliens thanks to an Irish Jesuit having lugged the wireless plus recording equipment all the way from Italy to the heart of this desolate and dangerous spot.

The message by the way is Do not kill Cain. Which makes little sense, either from the Almighty or from ET. The story comes to a sudden halt in which lose ends are ignored and story-lines ruthlessly cut rather than wound up. The renegade legionnaire, a thoroughly unpleasant murderer, comes to no good, the Jesuit goes back to Italy with his message, Phillip retires to his personal Shangrila, the secret oasis, where he marries the queen, and his old dad rides into the desert sunset with his fathrful companion who, no doubt, helps him keep warm during those cold desert nights.

Not a great read and singuarly lacking in humour, or answers, but fairly exciting for all that and certainly not nearly as bad as most reviewers would have you believe. ( )
  adpaton | Aug 14, 2012 |
This book was OK but not brilliant. It as certainly an interesting premise and I had no trouble reading to the end but I wasn't as engaged as I had thought I would be. Perhaps someone else will enjoy it more than I did. ( )
  seldombites | May 29, 2010 |
Formulaic, overwrought and inoffensive. Not much to see here. ( )
  furriebarry | Feb 1, 2009 |
This book is set after WW1 and the race is on to discover the secret of the Solitary Tower buried deep in the North African Desert. It is an archaeological thriller with the main character Phillip traveling around ruins of Italy and North Africa to solve riddles left by his father.

I had to think hard about what rating to give this book. As it was not an awful book and certainly the first 2 thirds were quite interesting.Then it suffered from what I will call "trying to explain everything in one hit". The book fell into long explanation dialogues which ruined the flow of the book as the author put this explanation moment right where the action was supposed to be hotting up. Also changing the point of view at certain points to me ruined the story. About half way through the book the point of view switched to a person that had not previously had the story told from his point of view which was jarring and to me pointless. It also took me a while to work out when the book was set (perhaps I was having a bimbo moment and didn't get it as quick as others). Finally the ending for me was really weak.

I was dissapointed as I had previously read The Last Legion which was exciting and fun (even if a bit "movie scripted"). Even though I noticed the flaws I didnt much care and still enjoyed it. The Tower is not a bad book but it is not great and seems like it was rushed into production. Oh well most authors of several books have a "bad" book and I guess this is Valerio's. ( )
  Caspettee | Aug 27, 2008 |
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Gilgamesh said, 'I have come to see Utapishtim, my elder, who was allowed to go beyond. I wish to know life and death.'

The scorpion man laughed and said, 'Never has a mortal done that, Gilgamesh. No one has ever gone beyond these mountains, travelled the remote path.'
The epic of Gilgamesh, Tablet IX
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After conquering the ancient world with his best-selling novels of antiquity, Valerio Massimo Manfredi has written a page-turning period thriller with an ancient twist.

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