Sometimes, I feel like the sole ambassador for Barry Unsworth. I think he’s a remarkable author of what some call historical fiction. (I just call it fiction.) This is a layered novel centered on layered activity – archaeology – and as the dig proceeds, treasures, characters, and conflicts are literally and figuratively unearthed. If at times Unsworth spends too much time on ancient history or archaeology, it didn’t bother me too much. I mostly blurred through those section.
Unsworth is masterful with point of view here, shifting at times from one character to the other in a remarkably controlled and meaningful manner – at times in the same paragraph.
The tension builds quietly and definitely and leads to an ending that can only be described as tragic. And layered.