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The Emperor's Tomb Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged

4.0 out of 5 stars 309 customer reviews
Book 6 of 10 in the Cotton Malone Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com 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.


--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0739329227
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739329221
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #862,187 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By ChibiNeko VINE VOICE on 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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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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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