“I daresay most individuals would have been speechless in horror at this catastrophe; but that condition has never affected the Emerson-Peabodys.”

This book has a little bit different structure than the previous ones in the Amelia Peabody – series. This book has chapter names and it’s also divided into two books. Also, this one is not strictly historical. It’s also not fantasy since it has no supernatural elements but rather more fantastical than the previous books in the style of H. Rider Haggard whose books are also mentioned in the Last Camel Died at Noon. I rather enjoyed the change of pace.

The start of the first chapter (called “I told you this was a harebrained scheme!”) is really a teaser of things to come: the Emersons are deep in a desert, their servants have abandoned them (except for one loyal servant Kemit), they have very little water, and their last camel has just died. Emerson is cursing and they are weighing their options which seem very limited.

The story starts in England when Amelia and Emerson are discussing about sending their son Ramses (who is now about ten) into school. Since this is the Victorian era, the school would have to be a private boarding school for boys. However, before they reach a conclusion, an agitated visitor demands to meet them. Reginald Forthright, who is the grandson of the Viscount Blacktower, storms in and promptly faints. When he revives, he tells a sad story about his uncle, Willoughby Forth, and his young bride who were lost in the desert in Sudan some fifteen years ago. However, Forthright’s grandfather is convinced that his son is still alive. And promptly, the Viscount appears to beg the Emersons to look for his son.

The Viscount has recently received a note and a map which are apparently from his son. It turns out that Emerson knew Willoughby but Emerson is not at all convinced that the couple is still alive. The visitors leave, disappointed. However, soon there are gunshots near the residence and the Emersons find a huge pool of blood nearby but no body.

Soon enough the Emersons return to excavations. On the way to the site Amelia tries to get Ramses enrolled into a school for young gentlemen, but they refuse to admit him so Ramses continues with his parents to Gebel Barkal and Napata to excavate the first Nubian capital. There is a military outpost and a village near the site but it’s quite different from the previous sites. Quite suddenly, Reginald Forthright appears on the site intent to continue the search for his uncle. Forthright gathers up a caravan and aided by the map he has copied from his grandfather he goes forth.

A few days later one of the servants on the caravan comes back exhausted and bloody. He tells of the disaster that the fell on Forthright. Of course, the Emersons can’t leave a fellow Englishman in trouble. Quickly they gather up the last available camels and men from the village and follow Forthright.

They follow the landmarks on the map instead of the directions of the servant who was part of Forthright’s caravan. Curiously, the servant insists that the earlier caravan had not followed the map. One night, all of the servants leave taking most of the camels with them. The Emersons are disappointed but determined to find Forthright and so they continue. But soon their own camels start to die mysteriously and finally they are almost out of water and unconscious on the desert.

However, this is not the end of the Emersons but merely the beginning of their fantastical adventure. They encounter a hidden civilization which is the heir to the Ancient Egyptian traditions and stumble in the middle of a power play between two princes.

The Last Camel Died at Noon follows the high adventure style of some of the writers from the 19th century. It doesn’t have as much mystery in it as the previous books. However, the characters are as delightful as ever and we meet one character who apparently becomes quite important in the following books.

LCDaN is fast-paced and funny once the action starts, and it might just be my favorite of the Amelia books so far.

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