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The Third Translation: A Novel

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The Third Translation: A Novel Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A literary page-turner that plunges the reader headlong into a modern quest to solve one of the last remaining riddles of ancient Egypt. An ancient mystery, a hidden language, and the secrets of a bizarre Egyptian sect collide in modern-day London in this ingenious novel of seduction, conspiracy, and betrayal.

Walter Rothschild is an American Egyptologist living in London and charged by the British Museum with the task of unlocking the ancient riddle of the Stela of Paser, one of the last remaining real-life hieroglyphic mysteries in existence today. The secrets of the stela — a centuries-old funerary stone — have evaded scholars for thousands of years due to the stela's cryptic reference to a third translation:

As for this writing, it is to be read three times. Its like has not been seen before, or heard since the time of the god.
— inscription on the Stela of Paser

Drawn into its mystery, Rothschild becomes the dupe of a seduction, robbery, and conspiracy engineered by a cult devoted to ancient Egyptian mysticism. With no one to trust and nothing as it appears, he must fight an elusive enemy to save his livelihood — and his very life.

As enlightening as it is entertaining, The Third Translation is a magnificent blend of fact and fiction. Bondurant masterfully weaves a wealth of fascinating, arcane information into a thrilling debut novel. Engagingly plotted, extensively researched, and utterly original, this well-crafted literary suspense novel takes you from the fast-paced streets of modern London into a lost world of sacred antiquities and ancient mysteries.

Review:

"Walter Rothschild, a middle-aged Egyptologist at the British Museum, has abandoned his wife and child to spend his time obsessively poring over the dusty inscriptions of a dead civilization. He is forced to reconnect with life when he is seduced by a mysterious woman who then steals an ancient papyrus containing the key to the enigmatic hieroglyphics of the Stela of Paser. The conspiracy trail leads Walter to a modern-day cult of the Egyptian sun god, Aten, protected by a menacing team of pro wrestlers. In Bondurant's ambitious debut, a sprawling picaresque is infused with mythic resonance by linking it to ancient Egyptian literature and mythology and to concepts in avant-garde physics, including black holes, general relativity and string theory. The author has an inventive imagination and an ardent feel for place; much of the book is a prose poem to London's squalid demimonde. Though some may feel that Bondurant's erudition and philosophical engagement ('the only way...to make sense of the magnitude of the time and the space and the span of humanity on earth is to grasp onto the one thing that gives you a clear look') slow the pace of his mystery, the success of previous literary novels of suspense bodes very well for this one. Agent, Alex Glass. (Apr. 6) Forecast: A big push by Hyperion should give this a shot at major sales, though it's not the only mysteries-of-the-ancient-world thriller in the running (in this issue, see also The Geographer's Library, p. 222)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Archaeology outshines the action." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[Bondurant's] extensive research has paid off in a literary page-turner whose characters are as compelling and complex as the Stela itself." Booklist

Review:

"[A]n impressive first novel about life and death and how we interpret each. It's not the next great thriller, but if you roll with it, you may just get more than what you'd expected." The Washington Post

Review:

"A luminous debut...an ingeniously literate and incandescent historical thriller that mixes linguistic cryptology and translation with gripping success." Washington Examiner

Review:

"The Third Translation has the complex twists of an ancient tomb, but Matt Bondurant knows the path through and leads us to a deep chamber of treasure. This novel provides a thrilling reading experience and it marks the beginning of a brilliant new literary career. Bondurant is the real thing." Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain

Review:

"How rare to encounter a young writer whose first steps press so deep and leave...lasting footprints on the literary landscape. In the past twenty years I can recall exactly a handful whose debut novels so dazzled me with their arcane intelligence and cosmic conspiracies, their dark, artful blendings of sophistication and vulgarity." Bob Shacochis, National Book Award winner for Easy in the Islands

Synopsis:

An ancient mystery, a hidden language, and the secrets of a bizarre Egyptian sect collide in modern-day London in this ingenious novel of seduction, conspiracy, and betrayal.

About the Author

Matt Bondurant began working on this novel while living and working in London, and finished it while employed at the British Museum, where he first saw the actual Stela of Paser and learned of its elusive and mysterious third translation. A professor at George Mason University and two-time Bread Loaf scholarship winner, his short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, the New England Review, and numerous other publications. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

sbtucker, April 23, 2006 (view all comments by sbtucker)
For the opposite reasons that I had to toss "The Da Vinci Code" onto the top of my unread pile of poorly written novels, I was happily entranced and engaged by "The Third Translation." In this novel I found all of the things that were missing with Dan Brown's narrative-Bondurant gives you original and human characters, real world sorrow and confusion that one expects in good literature, unsettling and wonderful plot movements, and the confident craft of tension that is seen more often in the works of Chabon and Irving.

Matt Bondurant is a novelist with a long and brilliant career ahead of him-rarely have I picked up a first novel from a new writer and been so impressed with the characters, tension, and craft of the narrative. Unlike the pulp mysteries that "The Third Translation" is compared to, this novel is filled with brave and original characters who challenge us with their particular obsessive behaviors-there is no comparison between the obtuse brilliance of Bondurant's Walter Rothschild and the "Indiana Jones" mimicry of Dan Brown's Robert Langdon. It is a shame that these two novels are even being compared, and it is a disservice to Bondurant's craft that they are mentioned in the same breath. That said, if one enjoys the pressure and tempo of novels like TDVC, I would recommend they take the next step into the realm of literary suspense that Bondurant represents so splendidly.

Bondurant intersperses complicated Egyptology within the constricts of the novel (a difficult task in itself) as the plot runs us through the London underground, the British Museum, Soho, Covent Garden, etc. His adept handling of this monumental task is tempered with the wonderful humor of the novel, not to mention the great pathos he develops for the main characters (not since Ignacious J. Reilly from "A Confederacy of Dunces," have I fallen in love with such an unloveable character). But more than all of these great qualities, this novel is written with great care and great ability-Bondurant mixes the complicated axioms of the scholarly with the equally poignant world of the mad and fetid London club scene. Often, this transition from the sterility of the British Museum to the urine soaked cobbled streets of Soho reminds me of those transitional moments of cytology and whale lore in "Moby Dick."
Beyond all of this, however, TTT is a fun and uproariously wild ride that will make you ache for the feral madness of London. It is human, absurd, wonderful. It is literary, scholarly, intense, and untamed. If you are like me, you will consume this one in a day, then start over in order to discover what you might have missed on the first read. Don't miss the boat, as some reviewers obviously have--this is a great, poignantly written and crafted, new novel.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781401301811
Publisher:
Hyperion Books
Subject:
England
Author:
Bondurant, Matt
Subject:
Mystery & Detective - General
Subject:
Suspense
Subject:
Americans
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
London (england)
Subject:
Suspense fiction
Subject:
Popular Fiction-Suspense
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Publication Date:
April 6, 2005
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
400
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.25 in 23.28 oz
Age Level:
from 18

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Suspense

The Third Translation: A Novel
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 400 pages Hyperion Books - English 9781401301811 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Walter Rothschild, a middle-aged Egyptologist at the British Museum, has abandoned his wife and child to spend his time obsessively poring over the dusty inscriptions of a dead civilization. He is forced to reconnect with life when he is seduced by a mysterious woman who then steals an ancient papyrus containing the key to the enigmatic hieroglyphics of the Stela of Paser. The conspiracy trail leads Walter to a modern-day cult of the Egyptian sun god, Aten, protected by a menacing team of pro wrestlers. In Bondurant's ambitious debut, a sprawling picaresque is infused with mythic resonance by linking it to ancient Egyptian literature and mythology and to concepts in avant-garde physics, including black holes, general relativity and string theory. The author has an inventive imagination and an ardent feel for place; much of the book is a prose poem to London's squalid demimonde. Though some may feel that Bondurant's erudition and philosophical engagement ('the only way...to make sense of the magnitude of the time and the space and the span of humanity on earth is to grasp onto the one thing that gives you a clear look') slow the pace of his mystery, the success of previous literary novels of suspense bodes very well for this one. Agent, Alex Glass. (Apr. 6) Forecast: A big push by Hyperion should give this a shot at major sales, though it's not the only mysteries-of-the-ancient-world thriller in the running (in this issue, see also The Geographer's Library, p. 222)." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Archaeology outshines the action."
"Review" by , "[Bondurant's] extensive research has paid off in a literary page-turner whose characters are as compelling and complex as the Stela itself."
"Review" by , "[A]n impressive first novel about life and death and how we interpret each. It's not the next great thriller, but if you roll with it, you may just get more than what you'd expected."
"Review" by , "A luminous debut...an ingeniously literate and incandescent historical thriller that mixes linguistic cryptology and translation with gripping success."
"Review" by , "The Third Translation has the complex twists of an ancient tomb, but Matt Bondurant knows the path through and leads us to a deep chamber of treasure. This novel provides a thrilling reading experience and it marks the beginning of a brilliant new literary career. Bondurant is the real thing."
"Review" by , "How rare to encounter a young writer whose first steps press so deep and leave...lasting footprints on the literary landscape. In the past twenty years I can recall exactly a handful whose debut novels so dazzled me with their arcane intelligence and cosmic conspiracies, their dark, artful blendings of sophistication and vulgarity."
"Synopsis" by , An ancient mystery, a hidden language, and the secrets of a bizarre Egyptian sect collide in modern-day London in this ingenious novel of seduction, conspiracy, and betrayal.
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