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Publisher's Summary

The tomb of China’s First Emperor, guarded by an underground army of terra-cotta warriors, has remained sealed for more than 2,000 years. Though it’s regarded as one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, the Chinese government won’t allow anyone to open it. Why?

That question is at the heart of a dilemma faced by former Justice Department operative Cotton Malone, whose life is shattered when he receives an anonymous note carrying an unfamiliar Web address. Logging on, he sees Cassiopeia Vitt, a woman who’s saved his life more than once, being tortured at the hands of a mysterious man who has a single demand: Bring me the artifact she’s asked you to keep safe. The only problem is, Malone doesn’t have a clue what the man is talking about, since Cassiopeia has left nothing with him. So begins Malone’s most harrowing adventure to date—one that offers up astounding historical revelations, pits him against a ruthless ancient brotherhood, and sends him from Denmark to Belgium to Vietnam then on to China, a vast and mysterious land where danger lurks at every turn.

©2010 Scott Berry (P)2010 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Perfect for thriller fans and history buffs alike.” (David Morrell, on The Romanov Prophecy)
“Steve Berry gets better and better with each new book.” ( The Huffington Post, on The Paris Vendetta)
“Controversial, shocking, explosive.” (Katherine Neville, on The Third Secret)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall


A disappointing offering from the usually reliable Berry. The plot is disjointed and boring, the characters lacking in anything resembling reality. Even Malone doesn't measure up.

Scott Brick doesn't help the book. He's trying to control the annoying lilt at the end of each sentence with about 90% success. He doesn't do accents or character voices well, and in this book it's a major failing. It's hard to tell which character is talking.

Glad to be done with this one. Hope Berry's next book is a lot better.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fascinating Ride!

A great combination of Chinese history, present Chinese political environment AND usual Cotton Malone/Casiopia Whitt action. Anyone up-to-date with current events knows that the China's need for oil outpaces even that of the US. This book's premise is current and thought-provoking while entertaining with the usual "will they make it" (although you know they will) tension. That said, this isn't really the book to start with in the Cotton Malone series. Steve Berry's earlier books set the stage so I'd recommend buying his first book and then following them sequentially. Highly entertaining and I would definitely recommend.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Just okay...

I really enjoy both Steve Berry and Scott Brick, however I found my mind wandering while listening to this one. Normally I'm sad when the books are over, but I was ready to be done with this one. There seemed to be a lot of background or historical information, which is necessary, but maybe this was too much. The action scenes were good, but I didn't find myself on the edge of my seat. It's an okay listen - I'm glad I bought it at the introductory price.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ann
  • Denver, CO, United States
  • 11-28-10

Great book if interested in Chinese history ....

Well-written book about Chinese history. Well narrated. If you're interested in a mystery story, however, it's not with the introductory price of $9.95 and definitely not worth a credit.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Quite interesting

I've just finished listening, and have also gone through some of the other reviews. The book admittedly has a style that could be considered irksome: a little over the top on Chinese history, and a little low on building the characters. There's also a lot of action, crammed into whatever spaces were left over after the history lessons. However, I have found that the best of books are strong on some aspects, and shallow elsewhere, and this book is no different. I did become engrossed in this book, and often continued to listen till late at night. Scott Brick reads very well, I think. Steve Berry isn't yet number one on my preferred writers' list, but I would be happy to read another. Suneet

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Paul
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 12-03-10

Not good

Oddly a very negative feeling towards China from people who have never been. The whole story is not very realistic or believable and the characters don't stick in the mind. Overall a weak book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Could have been interesting

I usually enjoy books with historical and cultural themes, though don't need a lot of detail in descriptions of fight action (read: a bit much in this book). Also, I think Scott Brick's woe-be-gone reading style was a serious detractor. I actually think some of the material could have been light-hearted, and most wasn't intended to seem sad. I think Mr. Brick is technically a very good reader, as he sounded pretty good when reading the addendum material, but the novel itself really needed a wider repertoire of emotion, if any was called for at all.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • J. Wilson
  • Franklin, PA United States
  • 11-25-10

Boring, for history buffs...

I am halfway and that is probably as far as I will go.
If you are really interested in Chinese dynasties then this will interest you.
If you expect a thriller, then you will be sorely disappointed. I fell asleep twice listening to this.
It opened up great, but soon droned on and on and on about Chines history.
This was my first and last Steve Berry book.

33 of 46 people found this review helpful

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  • Joseph
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 04-23-13

Solid, intricate, but very western perspective

For those who don't know the Cotton Malone series, he's a super-agent who investigates modern crimes that involve historical mysteries of the conspiracy variety. Steve Berry is much better than Dan Brown at working the historical premise into the plot, and he's much better at explaining the historical detail, but he's not as exciting at creating the modern day action. He doesn't fail at it, but he's not as suspenseful as Brown.

Overall, this is a complex mystery and intriguing political thriller that will illuminate the basic themes of Chinese history as the story works its way through the modern world. Berry does that well. He falls short in two areas, though. The history is a very westernized opinion of Chinese history, and the premise of the mystery is just silly. The biggest question you will have at the end of this book is "Why were they fighting over that?"

But it's a reasonably good mystery with a good primer of Chinese history and a weird little science conspiracy theory woven in. The characters are good, the reading is good, and it's entertaining. If you like history. If you don't, it probably wouldn't be worth the listen.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

I loved this historical , modern day novel

Do yourself a favour and listen to this book it is filled with accurate Historical data, and great characters. If you can ignore the obligatory romance between the hero and heroine and just listen to the story minus the in grating self reflection these two characters go through , this book is awesome. I love historical novels, I love thrillers, and in this book I have both. Well done and Kudo's to Steve Berry. Just leave out the romance as I can buy mills and boon novels if that is what I am after. However your historical references to this book, and various references to aboitic Oil are cutting edge writing. I did enjoy this book, and the story of the Ba too :)

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Salter
  • 05-14-15

great again...

certain have become a big fan of the Cotton Malone series, and this certainly didn't disappoint.
great twists and turns, and the end of one of my favourite characters!
I seriously recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a bit of James Bond mixed in with a bit of Dan Brown..

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • mfb
  • 02-21-17

great story

great story that lead from one mind set to another. narrated greatly bringing the people to life

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  • paul medcalf
  • 08-07-15

The Emperor's Tomb

Great story,great storytelling, great for a summer holiday read.
Good facts with good imagination and original concept.