Pardon me, but I was remiss – again. I missed off the end of the chapter, in the process neglecting to salute a momentary decent line of dialogue, a clear explanation of what the fuck is actually going on in the plot – and a bit of trivia.

So: did you know that the Arabic phrase for “the girl” is “bint”? I didn’t, but growing up in the North West of England, bint was a label for girls there too.

How about that, eh?


Well, it turns out that there were two conversations in chapter three. Our numerically indeterminate team of heroes head for Kenya – you see, it turns out that they can’t do anything useful until Lily has grown up, meaning a race towards physical maturity is on between her and her presumably evil twin brother – not only this, but in a rather unlikely commitment to heroism the elected team members have agreed to spend the next ten years helping to raise her. Can’t wait to see how that turns out.

As they take a winding route to their destination for secrecy reasons, some more plot detail is emitted. It turns out that every 4500 years or so the sun spins like a top and the Tartarus Sunspot points directly at earth, causing a two-week 1100 Celsius heatwave that will roast rainforests, boil rivers and, of course, melt all the ice, raising sea levels by twenty metres – as Epper remarks, “Humankind will have to move indoors for that time”.

That, by the way, wasn’t the good line of dialogue I was thinking of.

It turns out that this sunspot was responsible for several major floods in recent geological history, including the Biblical one, regular as clockwork – except that the one scheduled for 2570 BC didn’t happen.

I wonder why.

That’s right, the Egyptians beat the sun at its own game! They started building giant pyramids just long enough to foil the sun’s dastardly plans, then abruptly stopped bothering right after the sunspot threat was over and never built another pyramid again. Coincidence? Reilly don’t think so! It’s all about the Capstone, see? Placed in the right place, at the right time, the crystals within it will disperse the terrible energy of the sunspot (somehow) and save us all! Hoorah!

…so why do these killjoys want to stop the Yanks or the Euros from doing just that? Well, turns out it isn’t quite that simple. There is also a sort of curse/boon thing attached – whoever has the Capstone can either save the world for a future of global equality (sounds good), or in such a manner as to gift the one nation responsible with “all earthly power” for 1000 years. Sounds bad (for everyone else).

So when Saladin summed the situation up this way, I was quite impressed.

“Or there is the third option,” Saladin said. “Our option. If we obtain a single Piece of this Capstone and withhold it, we condemn the world to two weeks of catastrophic weather and floods, but not 1,000 years of slavery. A lesser-of-two-evils argument, Dr. Epper?”

You know, that’s not all bad for an ethical conundrum, reilly. Bit far-fetched perhaps, but if we’re forgiving anything in a fantasy potboiler…

There was no clip-art in this chapter either. Smashing.