“A gypsy told me once I was a fool. The fool who sought the fool.” So says, Ethan Gage, hero of a pair of fast-moving historical adventure novels filled with the kinds of things we tarotists find intriguing: occult manuscripts, ciphers, Freemasons, Kabbala, Templars, hidden rooms beneath the Great Pyramid and Solomon’s Temple, gypsies, tarot, an evil magician and a priestess of Isis and, of course, the Book of Thoth. It’s a heady mix, especially when you set a fast-talking American fool with a tomahawk down in an Egypt and Levant besieged by Napoleon Bonaparte, and then add historic battle scenes, man-eating crocodiles and impossible escapes. Ah, the things you didn’t know about history!

These flawed, yet still entertaining novels (you need to read both to get the whole story) are fun reading if you have plenty of time on your hands or must read anything with even a whiff of tarot—and each book features a tantalizing tarot reading. There’s not much philosophical depth despite the snippets of esoteric lore, the characters are only two-dimensional, and the women are served up as a typical male fantasy, but there are no pretensions to be other than what it is—wildly improbable tales, with handy turns of phrase and surprising developments that keep you reading. In fact, it speaks for itself: “There’s nothing like treasure hunting, ancient legends, and battles to make one appreciate a good nap.”

We haven’t heard the last of Ethan Gage, but at least the task undertaken in the first book is completed in the 2nd (the cliff-hanger ending of the first book wasn’t exactly playing fair):

Recommended for the light-hearted fun of it: novels by William Dietrich:

Napoleon’s Pyramids.

The Rosetta Key.