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The Emperor's Tomb (with bonus short story The Balkan Escape): A Novel (Cotton Malone Book 6) [Kindle Edition]

Steve Berry
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (214 customer reviews)

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Book Description

BONUS: This edition contains a Cotton Malone Dossier, an excerpt from Steve Berry's The Columbus Affair, and a short story by Steve Berry, The Balkan Escape.


Former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone has received an anonymous note carrying an unfamiliar Web address. Logging on, he’s shocked to see Cassiopeia Vitt, a woman who’s saved his life more than once, being tortured at the hands of a mysterious man who has a single demand: Bring me the artifact she’s asked you to keep safe. The only problem is, Malone doesn’t have a clue what the man is talking about, since Cassiopeia has left nothing with him. So begins Malone’s most harrowing adventure to date—one that offers up astounding historical revelations, pits him against a ruthless ancient brotherhood, and sends him from Denmark to Belgium to Vietnam then on to one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world: the tomb of China’s First Emperor, guarded by an underground army of terra-cotta warriors, which has inexplicably remained sealed for more than two thousand years—its mysteries about to be revealed.

Editorial Reviews Review

An Interview with Cotton Malone by Steve Berry

Magellan Billet
De-Briefing Report

Agent Interviewed: Harold Earl “Cotton” Malone

Status: Retired (on special assignment here)

Interview Location: Café Norden, Copenhagen, Denmark

Subject: Recent incursion into the People’s Republic of China

Question 1: Your impressions of China?

Amazing. Here’s a culture that has been around for over 4,000 years yet is still struggling to identify itself. An ancient place, and that old-world feel is still there, especially in the areas I visited. I learned that well over 50% of the world’s great inventions and innovations originated in China--things like printing, the zero, the compass, the stirrup, the abacus, the seismograph, the rudder, the parachute, and masts and sails. The list is long. But, because of the country’s isolation, and the tendency of one emperor to eradicate all vestiges of those who came before him, the Chinese literally forgot what they had accomplished. Can you imagine?

The country is incredibly varied in geography and culture, it stretches more than 3,000 miles east to west, and it contains two of the world’s great deserts, the Gobi and Taklamakan, which I skirted. Some of the highest mountains on the planet rise from the Tibetan plateau in the south, which I visited. Maybe most impressively, 1.3 billion people live in China, so it’s the most populous place on the planet. But despite all that, the country remains tremendously fragile, its political culture is volatile and unpredictable, bound together only by force and fear. It would not take much to send it over the edge.

Question 2: Who was there, on the ground, with you?

Stephanie Nelle, head of the Magellan Billet, authorized the incursion, facilitated by a cooperating Russian agent known only as Ivan. Cassiopeia Vitt accompanied me, along with Viktor Tomas, a freelance agent I’d dealt with previously in a file titled The Venetian Betrayal. This time Tomas was covertly working with Karl Tang, China’s deputy premier. Cassiopeia and I have not worked together in a while, as my experiences in Germany and the Antarctic last Christmas (detailed in a file titled The Charlemagne Pursuit) and then in France (The Paris Vendetta) did not concern her. Her involvement here came as the result of a long term friendship with a Russian ex-patriot, Lev Sokolov, and the abduction of his son. There’s a file, The Balkan Escape, which explains in detail her connection with Sokolov.

Question 3: Are you able to offer any insight into the epidemic of child trafficking in China?

This is truly a major problem, which Lev Sokolov experienced firsthand.

Some estimate that as many as 70,000 children are stolen in China every year. Its one-child policy and a cultural preference for boys has fostered a vicious trafficking industry. Sons traditionally care for their parents and, of course, carry on the family name, so female fetuses are many times either aborted or abandoned. Incredibly, it’s illegal to abandon, steal, or sell a child in China, but not illegal to buy one. I learned that a young boy costs around $900 U.S. That’s a lot of money considering the average Chinese worker earns only about $1,700 U.S. annually. But people pay it. The government is doing something, but not nearly enough to stop it. Lev Sokolov was fighting an uphill battle, and that’s why he called Cassiopeia.

Question 4: What observations, if any, can you offer on Qin Shi’s tomb?

The tomb mound itself has stood in central China for over 2,200 years. It was once the size of the pyramid at Giza in Egypt. It took thousands of men over 12 years to complete the underground palace complex where Qin Shi is buried. His body still rests beneath the mound. The tomb itself is the size of a football field, topped by a jeweled ceiling representative of stars and a floor that depicts Qin Shi’s empire in three dimensions including mountains, villages, roads, and rivers, lakes, and oceans fashioned of mercury. It has remained unexplored, as no Chinese emperor or government has ever allowed anyone inside. The only written account of the interior was penned 2,000 years ago. A kilometer away stands the terra cotta army--an amazing collection of 8,000 unique soldiers, 130 chariots, and 670 horses, all arrayed in tight battle formation. That area is open to the public and its museum complex is extensively visited. Interestingly, when the terra cotta warriors were discovered in 1974, no one had any idea that they ever existed. Remember that practice of purging memories? The same thing happened here. The emperors who came after Qin Shi made sure that every detail of his existence was forgotten. Only in the past few decades has interest in the First Emperor been rekindled.

Question 5: What are your future plans?

To return to my bookshop and earn a living. But you never know what will happen next. I had a dream the other night that I was drawn back home, to the United States, for some reason. Odd I’d imagine that.

From Publishers Weekly

Cotton Malone teams with old heartthrob Cassiopeia Vitt on a dangerous mission to retrieve a priceless Chinese lamp from the third century B.C.E. in Berry's rousing fifth thriller to feature the ex-federal agent (after The Paris Vendetta). Two high-ranking Chinese government ministers, hard-liner Karl Tang and more liberal Ni Yong, both of whom are vying to be China's next premier, covet the lamp. Tang, in particular, has left a trail of bodies in his own quest for the lamp, which, unbeknownst to Malone and Vitt, contains the secret to how the country will surmount its biggest obstacle to future economic growth, its dependence on foreign oil. Berry layers his narrative with well-chosen, if sometimes overly detailed, doses of Chinese history. His action sequences, particularly a shootout inside the vast network of an underground tomb, often take too long to resolve, though the payoff in the end--a goose-pimple–raising showdown in a remote monastery--is worth the wait. (Nov.) (c)
Copyright © PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Product Details

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
98 of 106 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice, mostly politically charged thriller September 29, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I'm not going to lie to you, if you're hoping that this book will see the return of a story devoted to tracking down valuable & historically important treasures, you'll be disappointed. They're in here, but they are very much a backdrop to what is ultimately a political thriller. I do however, hope that you still give this book a chance. There's still enough here to like.

It was going to be a normal day for Cotton until he got a message containing a web address. He didn't know what to expect from it, but he certainly wasn't expecting to see his old friend Cassiopeia Vitt being tortured. Cotton is given an ultimatum- give them what Cassiopeia left him or she dies. Only problem? He hasn't seen her in quite a while, let alone received anything from her. Unable to leave his friend (and possibly more) to die, Cotton meets up with one of the people involved in her capture, only to end up involved in something bigger than he ever expected. Not only is his & Cassiopeia's lives at stake, but also the future of China itself.

While there is a wonderful amount of history & ancient mystery to this book, that wasn't the main plot point of the book. At its heart this book was ultimately a fast paced political thriller, which I did enjoy for the most part. I do miss the old days of Cotton Indiana Jonesing his way through the story, but Berry seems to be exploring a new & untapped facet of this series that is pretty intriguing.

Unfortunately the book isn't completely perfect. There were times where the action laden scenes did seem to get a little bogged down under their own weight & I found myself really wishing the story would just move past that, especially when Cotton kept going on about how he didn't trust Viktor.
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35 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor's Tomb September 30, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is one of series of books featuring Cotton Malone and Cassiopeia Vitt. Generally I have found that most series authors find ways to introduce recurring characters so that you know something about them. In this case there was only a bit of personal history given which at times made you feel at a disadvantage although the book can be read as a stand alone book in the series.

I have never read this author before and the copy I was reading was the uncorrected proof which I hope will go on to get some major flaws repaired before actual publication. I found the story interesting and there was a lot of history about China that I enjoyed learning about, but I found many scenes in the book to be totally implausible.

The biggest scene that I had trouble believing in was a shoot out in a museum in Antwerp. Several different factions were chasing each other, shooting each other, and fighting each other in a closed museum at night. Oh, and by the way, the building was on fire. I have always heard and believed that when a building is burning it is hard to see as everything is dark and smoky, it is hard to breath unless you are down near the floor, the atmosphere is hot and nasty and a normal person's instinct is to get out of a burning building as quickly as possible. Not these guys. They were all so committed to their cause that they all kept fighting, shooting, etc. while the building and room all around them was going up in flames. Apparently the normal problems associated with a fire did not bother these folks except of course for the one guy that burned up in front of them. Come on, get your characters fighting in a way that is believable!

Even the premise of the book at the beginning was hard to believe.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Who wrote it? May 20, 2011
This one is nothing like his previous books! Berry in fact was or is in my top 5 authors....not so sure after this one. It drags through politcal and historical rivalries with these eunuchs who you never can learn to trust. Cassiopia Vitt is normally dangerous and self sufficient became whimpering and dependant. Did Berry really write this? His publisher probably hounding him, "wheres that new book", Berry..."got brain drain on this one"...Publisher..."scrape together whatever you've got and get it here!" He should not have killed off Thorvaldsen!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does not disappoint! October 10, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Steve Berry is one of my favorite popular authors, so I was delighted to be chosen to review The Emperor's Tomb (Cotton Malone). Steve writes for the pick-the-book-up-on-the-way-to-the-plane, mass market audience and he turns out a book a year. Nonetheless, he does historical fiction with real flare and a pretty high degree of accuracy. Steve seems to particularly enjoy archeological/artistic mysteries (The Amber Room: A Novel, The Romanov Prophecy: A Novel ) and The Emperor's Tomb is no exception. The tomb, of course, is the famous and as yet unexplored tomb of Qin Shi Huang, first emperor of China, the site of the discovery of legions of terra cotta warriors. While some might see the thrust of Emperor's Tomb as political, they miss the real scientific argument he poses for our consideration. Oil. You'll be surprised. Pick this one up - definitely worth a read!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Tedious Thriller January 29, 2011
The Emperor's Tomb

A Tedious Thriller

When Steve Berry exploded on the publishing scene, he did so with The Amber Room, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Templar Legacy, three well-plotted and well-written thrillers, using a unique bled of history and excitement. Slowly, the novels have become tedious and just plain dull. Cotton Malone, the treasure hunter--a la Indiana Jones--has become the hero of increasingly bloated tomes which are dragged down by excessive details, poor structure, and mediocre writing, and in The Emperor's Tomb, a political lecture.

We also see unnecessary creeping into recent novels of details from Malone's private life. There is the son fathered by someone other than Malone's ex-wife, a mentor who was inexplicably killed off, Malone agonizing over a lost-father, and a tedious and growing love affair between Malone and the now supporting heroine, Cassiopeia Vitt.

Vitt, who has appeared in earlier Berry novels as someone with an extraordinary background, is one of Berry's unique creations. Her exotic history, highly refined martial arts skills, and wealth from her deceased father are the usual elements almost required for an independent super heroine. Her interest in building a 14th Century French castle using the technology of that time period, as well as her desire to help those in desperate straits make her stand above the usual cardboard cutouts. Unfortunately, The Emperor's Tomb does little to show her complex nature. Instead, she is a run-of-the-mill heroine who survives many threats: water boarding; a fall of more than ninety feet into a frigid, boulder-lined torrential river; beatings; and the death of a lover.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars great!
I have always been impressed with Steve Berry's novels. They are well written, extensively plotted, fast paced, and thoroughly enjoyable. Read more
Published 12 days ago by Dan Nitzsche
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Great Series
Published 13 days ago by Ryan Bonetto
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprised I Liked It
I pre-read reviews of one-star reviewers and how disappointed they were in this book compared to the other Malone Series books. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Andrew Hale
4.0 out of 5 stars Not his best, but still a great Romp.
I love Steve Berry's books. They're always exciting and because he uses the same characters, it's easy to identify with them. Read more
Published 16 days ago by A.S Haley
5.0 out of 5 stars THE EMPERORS TOMB
I enjoyed reading it. It was exciting and a thriller at times I could not put it down. I recommend.
Published 19 days ago by Brooklyn
5.0 out of 5 stars Malone to the rescue!
Cotton Malone is, well, Cotton Malone. And if he hasn’t clearly established his bonafides in the first seven episodes of Steve Berry’s incredibly successful series, then this... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Billy J. Hobbs
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth buying but.......
While I enjoy Mr. Berry's books to purchase them, I cannot believe how poorly they are edited. I find glaring grammatical errors, mostly words used incorrectly or out of context. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars like Cotton and the others
Good tale and fairly up to date on the worlds current problems. I like the books that keep the same character.
Published 1 month ago by LYNNE SONANDRES
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read
Very well describing the picturesque country of china. The suspense of who was going to end up being the emperor was great.
Published 1 month ago by Wendell williams
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
One of the better books I have read in the historical thrillers. I would recommend this book to anyone. Good job Mr. Berry!
Published 1 month ago by Kenny Johnson
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More About the Author

Steve Berry is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of The Lincoln Myth, The King's Deception, The Columbus Affair, The Jefferson Key, The Emperor's Tomb, The Paris Vendetta, The Charlemagne Pursuit, The Venetian Betrayal, The Alexandria Link, The Templar Legacy, The Third Secret, The Romanov Prophecy, and The Amber Room. His books have been translated into 40 languages with 17,000,000 copies in 51 countries.

History lies at the heart of every Steve Berry novel. It's his passion, one he shares with his wife, Elizabeth, which led them to create History Matters, a foundation dedicated to historic preservation. Since 2009 Steve and Elizabeth have crossed the country to save endangered historic treasures, raising money via lectures, receptions, galas, luncheons, dinners and their popular writers' workshops. To date, nearly 2,500 students have attended those workshops. In 2012 their work was recognized by the American Library Association, which named Steve the first spokesman for National Preservation Week. He was also appointed by the Smithsonian Board of Regents to serve on the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board to help promote and support the libraries in their mission to provide information in all forms to scientists, curators, scholars, students and the public at large. He has received the Royden B. Davis Distinguished Author Award; the 2013 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award; his novel The Columbus Affair earned him the Anne Frank Human Writes Award; and International Thriller Writers bestowed him the 2013 Silver Bullet for his work with historic preservation. A 2010 NPR survey named The Templar Legacy one of the top 100 thrillers ever written.

Steve was born and raised in Georgia, graduating from the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He was a trial lawyer for 30 years and held elective office for 14 of those years. He is a founding member of International Thriller Writers--a group of more than 2,600 thriller writers from around the world--and served three years as its co-president.

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