I am conflicted when it comes to Pyramids. First, I really like Saberhagens’ Beserker mythos, so I wanted to also like this book. However, Pyramids is a slow burner. The first 85 pages were a slog when it was Tom’s part of the story, but interesting when it focused on the Egyptians. I put the book down and literally found it four months later, and only then realized then I had never picked it up to finish reading it. Which, honestly, is a little awkward. But I started reading it again, and starting around page 90, Tom’s story started getting interesting. Then at page 105 it picked up some more, page 121 ratcheted it up even more, and the plot took off at page 135. I really enjoyed the book after this point, but that slow opening was brutal for me.
The characterization was well done, as while Tom Schlefer and his girlfriend were somewhat annoying initially, they grew (somewhat) on me. The remaining characters were adequate, with Pilgrim, some Egyptians, and a few other humans, all with motives that were continually in question for the character, if not quite as much for the reader.
The plot was well crafted, with the last sixth of the book launching itself entirely off the rails. It’s pretty great. The time travel mechanics are intriguing, but never fully elucidated, which honestly suited me fine and was probably for the better. I am not quite sure whether to consider the book a comedy or a tragedy: I guess you could consider it a dry tragicomedy? Anyways.
Pyramids was published in 1987 by Baen Publishing Enterprises, not around 2570 BC by Khnum-Khufu of the Fourth Dynasty of Egypt.
COVER ART REVIEW: While it has some really cool elements, overall the cover art feels like less than the sum of its parts. I really dig the pastel square frame effect going on, and putting the Ra in Ra is both genius and Ra is really well drawn and detailed. If you look closely at the pyramid base, there’s a lot of neat little details there, too. But the composition feels scattered, as nothing really draws the elements together.
P.S. This story would be amazing if it turned out it was the Beserkers’ fault the whole time. Pyramids fan-fiction, here I come…