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As the author notes, the concept for this novel came out of his own research on the Pharos Lighthouse, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. From this he developed a plot where there were secret, protected chambers built into its foundation. Further, the storehouse of knowledge at Alexandria was not lost when the library was burned. Rather, a group of ancient “keepers” had moved its scrolls to the foundation of Pharos, thereby preserving the information to be accessed by some future generation. The ultimate prize of the collection was the Emerald Tablet, a document containing the tenets of alchemy. It is attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, a Hellenistic figure that combines the archetypal qualities of Hermes and Thoth.
Because “the Pharos protects itself” the descendants of the keepers had not been able to access it since antiquity. This is because they had been unable to correctly decipher the symbols left by the ancients as clues on how to safely move through the defenses built into Pharos.
Enter Caleb Crowe. He undertakes the path of “the hero’s journey” as outlined in the works of Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell. The author writes of Caleb passing through the various stages of alchemical transformation as part of his journey, becoming the first to gain access to the secured hidden passages containing the scrolls.
Overall it is an interesting plot concept. Unfortunately, the author’s writing style was mediocre and his characters lacked depth. The narrator’s reading did not help. He provided little variation in the voices of the individual characters, especially between the masculine and feminine ones. Perhaps narration by a James Langton or Holter Graham would have improved the listening experience.
It is obvious that the author cared about the story’s subject matter so it is unfortunate that the result wasn’t better.