11/30/2010 10:59 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Emperor's Tomb Provides More Than Enough Historical Background About China

In this day and age it is wise to know as much about China as possible. Perhaps that is why author Steve Berry gives you a history lesson and a half in his new novel The Emperor's Tomb. In this book Berry's perennial hero Cotton Malone goes to China on a mission to work with his best friend and ally Cassiopeia Vitt. These two have their work cut out for them as they try to protect a Chinese diplomat, rescue a kidnapped child, and solve the mystery of an ancient oil lamp.

For those not familiar with Berry's writing, Malone is a former agent with the US Justice Department. He currently owns and operates a bookstore in Antwerp but is constantly being drawn back into world adventures. His companion in most of these adventures is Vitt, a wealthy woman who is more than capable of taking care of herself and those around her.

Vitt is the one drawn into the latest adventure. A friend of hers is a Russian scientist married to a Chinese woman. They live with their son in China. The Chinese government wants something from this man and they kidnap his son in order to force him to give them the information they seek. He contacts Vitt and she promises to get his son back for him.

Malone is drawn into all this when he learns Vitt's life is in danger. He races to rescue her and there meets up with a man named Viktor with whom he has worked in the past. Viktor is a soldier of fortune that Vitt trusts but Malone doesn't. Still the three of them have worked together in an odd sort of way.

In all of Berry's books the research is phenomenal. Still there is a thin line between too little information and too much information. In The Emperor's Tomb, Berry may have fallen over into the "too much information" area. There is so much information about the dynasties of China, the inventions of China and the philosophies of China that the reader is awash and drowned by it.

In several instances the action comes to a complete stop while Berry gives us information on top of information. By the time you get back to the plot of the story you have forgotten where you are and what has happened. A little less information would have been a plus in these instances.

Still the Berry magic works in creating a world of intrigue and excitement. The storyline builds to a creative climax as the forces of good and evil in China do battle, with the good guys assisted by Malone and company. When you are reading these exciting pages you tend to forget all the laborious work you had to do to get here.

Steve Berry has created a world adventurer in Cotton Malone, and his fans are loyal. They will devour this new story even as they wade through the history lessons. Perhaps they will learn something as well as be entertained and that is a very good thing for a writer to do.