Make your own free website on Tripod.com
The Seventh Scroll

'The Seventh Scroll'

A Novel by Wilbur Smith

-----This novel is one of the most popular Wilbur Smith has ever written. I constantly receive questions about 'The Seventh Scroll' and the authenticity of this novel and its predecessor 'River God.' Both are related and neither seems to answer the questions of the other. 'The Seventh Scroll' is the modern day search for pharaoh Mamose's tomb, which entails unraveling the trail of the clever slave, Taita.

-----Royan is an Egyptologist who, along with her husband, finds the tantalizing seventh scroll which reveals hints and secrets to the location of pharaohs tomb. She is not the only one who knows of the scroll, however, and soon finds herself running from men who murder her husband, and will kill again for the unimaginable treasure that lays buried with Mamose.

-----'In the darkness and the confusion she had become disoriented. She had not realized that she had reached the point where the road skirted the embankment at the water's edge. She knew that she did not have time to climb back on to the road, and she knew also that there were thick clumps of papyrus and reeds ahead of her, that might give her shelter.'

-----'She waded out until the bottom sloped away steeply under her feet, and she found herself forced to swim. She broke into an awkward breast-stroke, hampered by her skirts and her injured arm. However, her slow and stealthy movements created almost no disturbance on the surface, and before the men on the road had reached the point where she had descended the bank, she reached a dense stand of reeds.

-----She eased her way into the thick of them and let herself sink. Before the water covered her nostrils she felt her toes touch the soft ooze of the lake bottom. She stood there quietly, with just the top of her head above the surface and her face turned away from the bank. She knew her dark hair would not reflect the light of a probing torch.'

-----'Though the water covered her ears, she could make out the excited voices of the men on the road. They had turned their torches down towards the water and were shining them into the reads, searching for her. For a moment one of the beams played full on her head, and she drew a deep breath ready to submerge, but the beam moved on and she realized that they had not picked her out.'

-----'The fact that she had not been seen even in the direct torchlight emboldened her to raise her head slightly until one ear was clear and she could make out their voices.'

-----'They were speaking Arabic, and she recognized the voice of the one named Bacheet. He appeared to be the leader, for he was giving the orders.'

-----"Go in there, Yusuf, and bring the whore out."

-----'She heard Yusuf slipping and sliding down the bank and the splash as he hit the water.'

----- "Further out," Bacheet ordered him. "In those reeds there, where I am shining the torch."

-----"It is too deep. You know well I cannot swim. It will be over my head."

-----"There! Right in front of you. In those reeds. I can see her head." Bacheet encouraged him, and Royan dreaded that they had spotted her. She sank down as far as she could below the surface.'

-----'Yusuf splashed around heavily, moving toward where she cowered in the reeds, when suddenly there was a thunderous commotion that startled even Yusuf, so that he shouted aloud, "Djinns! God protect me!" as the flock of roosting duck exploded from the water and launched into the dark sky on noisy wings.'

-----'Yusuf started back to the bank and not any of Bacheet's threats could persuade him to continue the hunt.'

-----"The woman is not as important as the scroll, "he protested, as he climbed back on the roadway. Without the scroll there will be no money. We always know where to find her later."

-----'Turning her head slightly, Royan saw the torches move back down the road towards the parked Fiat whose headlights still burned. She heard the car doors slam, and then the engine revved and pulled away towards the villa.'*(Pages 13-14)

-----Royan seems to have trouble follow her wherever she goes. After her husband's death she is forced to look to another, Nicholas Quenton-Harper, for financial support to attempt to locate the hidden tomb. Before the men in possession of the scroll could unravel Taita's complex web of clues, Royan and Nicholas must solve it themselves, and find the path leading to the incredible treasure hidden with Pharaoh Mamose. Nicholas agrees to finance the expedition and, while avoiding constant danger, somehow gets them to Ethiopia, where they meet up with some new friends.

-----'It was a tiny sound, but one he knew so well. A sound that whiplashed across his nerve endings and jerked him back to full consciousness, with his pulse racing and the coppery taste of fear in the back of his throat. It was the metallic sound of the safety-catch on an AK-47 assault rifle being slipped forward into the "Fire" position.'

-----'In one fluid movement he lifted the rifle out of his lap and rolled twice, twisting his body to cover the two women who lay beside him. At the same time he brought the Rigby into his shoulder, aimed into the scrub behind him from where the sound had come.'

-----"Down!" He hissed at his companions. "Keep your heads down!."

-----'His finger was on the trigger and, even though it was a puny weapon with which to take on a Kalashnikov, he was ready to return fire. He picked up his target immediately, and swung on to it.'

-----'There was a man crouched twenty paces away, the assault rifle he carried aimed into Nicholas's face. He was black, dressed in worn and tattered camouflage fatigues and a soft cap of the same material. His webbing held a bushknife and grenades, water bottle and all the other accouterments of a guerrilla fighter.'

-----"Shufta!," thought Nicholas. "A real pro, don't take chances with this one." Yet at the same time he realized that if the intention had been to kill him, then he would be dead already.'

-----'He aimed the Rigby an inch over the muzzle of the assault rifle, into the bloodshot eye of the shufta behind it. The man acknowledged the stand-off with a narrowing of his eyes, and then gave an order in Arabic.'

-----"Salim, cover the women. Shoot them if he moves."

-----'Nicholas heard movement on his flank and glanced in that direction, still keeping the shufta in his peripheral vision.'

-----'Another guerrilla stepped out of the scrub. He was similarly dressed , but he carried a Soviet RPD light machine gun on his hip. The barrel was sawn off short to make the weapon more handy for bush fighting, and there was a loop of ammunition belt draped around his neck. He came forward carefully, the RPD aimed point-blank at the two women. Nicholas knew that, with a touch of the trigger, he could chop them both to mincemeat.''

-----'There were other stealthy rustling sounds in the bush all around them. These two were not the only ones, Nicholas realized. This was a large war party. He might be able to get off one shot with the Rigby, but by then Royan and Tessay would be dead. And he would not be far behind them.'

-----'Very slowly and deliberately he lowered the muzzle of the rifle until it was pointing at the ground. Then he laid the weapon down and raised his hands.'

-----"Get your hands up," he told the women. "Do exactly what they tell you."

-----'We are British subjects," Nicholas told him loudly, and the guerrilla looked surprised by his use of Arabic. "We are simple tourists. We are not military. We are not government people."

-----"Be quiet. Shut your face!" he ordered, as the rest of the guerrilla patrol emerged from cover. Nicholas counted five of them all told, though he knew there were probably others who had not come forward. They were very professional as they rounded up their prisoners. They never blocked each other's field of fire, nor offered an opportunity for escape. Quickly they searched them for weapons, then closed in around them and hustled them onto the path.'

-----"Where are you taking us?" Nicholas demanded.'

-----"No questions!" The butt of an AK-47 smashed between his shoulder blades and almost knocked him off his feet.'

-----"Steady on, chaps," he murmured mildly in English. "That wasn't really called for." *(pages 163-164)

-----Well, I'll leave it to you to find out how they make it out of this crazy mess. The story will twist and turn and have you cheering at the end for the fate of the villains, some times people do get what they deserve (usually only in books though). Enjoy reading this never-let-up thriller given to you by the only author who can really keep the action rolling on every page.

*'The Seventh Scroll'. Wilbur Smith. Published by St. Martin's Press. April/1996.