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Literature / Amelia Peabody

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Spoiler note: While most troping involves spoilers to a certain degree, this page as it's currently laid out has major mid- to late-series arc spoilers out in the open! If you hate having your mysteries spoiled, stop reading after the next couple of paragraphs. You have been warned!

A historical mystery series written by Elizabeth Peters.

Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson are Happily Married Victorian Egyptologists. They are also Amateur Sleuths. They also have a tendency to consider themselves above the law, in that they don't often bother to call the police while battling criminals, as the Police Are Useless. Amelia, in fact, is generally scornful of cops, ignoring the fact that police must follow rules of evidence she doesn't consider binding on her. She frequently says Scotland Yard would solve more cases if a woman ran it — not talking about getting both male and female perspectives, but about replacing the male way of thinking with the female.

The Amelia Peabody series starts in Victorian Britain but runs through World War I and into The Roaring '20s. Over this time, she and her husband have founded a Badass Family and Quirky Household, the Emersons, that is the core of a bi-ethnic (English/Egyptian) example of The Clan. In addition to Peabody and Emerson, the Emerson family includes:

Each of these four main characters has an Egyptian nickname, bestowed on them by the locals, a particular interest within Egyptology, and an edge of some kind that makes them a bit super-normal:

  • Amelia is "Sitt Hakim" ("Lady Doctor"). (She is also called "Peabody" by her husband; she always calls him "Emerson". If he calls her Amelia, it means he's really angry with her.) Her favorite topic is pyramids. Her edge is the dreams of or from her dead friend Abdullah.

  • Emerson is "Abu Shitaim" ("Father of Curses"), earned by his short temper and talent with Arabic invective. His favorite topics are tombs and temples. His edge is sheer strength and even more endurance.

  • Ramses is "Akhu el-Efreet" ("Brother of Demons"). (Of course, "Ramses" is already a nickname; his real name is Walter.) His favorite topic is inscriptions and the study of the ancient Egyptian language. His edge is his extraordinarily sharp hearing and vision. "The Brother of Demons can hear a whisper across the Nile."

  • Nefret is "Nur Misur" ("Light of Egypt"), probably in tribute to her hair and her vibrancy. Her favorite topic is mummies, which chimes well with her medical degree. Her edge is a psychic link with Ramses that lets her know when he is in imminent danger; it also spills out into a general sympathy that lets her tame horses, dogs, and cats, feed sparrows from her hand at a cafe table, and may be another reason for her widespread popularity with the Egyptian poor.

The main characters complicate their investigations for themselves by (1) sometimes competing to see who can solve it first, and (2) almost always keeping information from each other to protect the others from rushing into the danger that they themselves feel must be investigated. As a result, they spend a lot of time rescuing each other.

There are a great many repeating characters, including many historical archeologists. Among the important supporting characters are:

  • Sethos, Seth Emerson, who would be an Evil Uncle if he were actually evil; he is Emerson's bastard half-brother, starts the series as a professional tomb robber, gets a crush on Amelia, who reforms him, and goes on to become a British secret agent, all before he reveals the relationship to Peabody and Emerson. Sethos has a way of turning up unannounced to drag in new plot complications.

  • Abdullah ibn Hassan al Wahhab, the foreman on the digs. His son Selim takes over from him eventually. His brother Daoud is a Gentle Giant. His grandson David is taken in by the younger Emersons, becomes a famed illustrator, and marries Walter and Evelyn's eldest daughter Amelia "Lia", which her parents initially object to, but which the rest of the family (except for Amelia, though she had not realized this until then) supports, and they come around. His daughter-in-law Fatima becomes the Emerson's housekeeper. Abdullah's family is the hook on which to hang issues of racism and imperialism, which the Emersons are fiercely against.

The Emersons, both female and male, are also fierce proponents of equal rights for women. Some of the stories touch on the early feminist movement in England, and Amelia and Nefret are always trying to improve the lot of Egyptian women.

The Emersons' career is intertwined in the real history of Egypt and Egyptian archeology. The latest books put them on the outskirts of Carter's discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen.

The Amelia Peabody books, with the dates when they are set, are:

  1. 1884-85, Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975)
  2. 1892-93, Curse of the Pharaohs (1981)
  3. 1894-95, The Mummy Case (1985)
  4. 1895-96, Lion in the Valley (1986)
  5. Summer 1896, Deeds of the Disturber (1988)
  6. 1897-98, The Last Camel Died at Noon (1991)
  7. 1898-99, The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog (1992)
  8. 1899-1900, The Hippopotamus Pool (1996)
  9. 1903-04, Seeing a Large Cat (1997)
  10. 1906-07, The Ape Who Guards the Balance (1998)
  11. 1907-08, Guardian of the Horizon (2004, published out of sequence)
  12. Summer-Fall 1910, A River in the Sky (2010, published out of sequence)
  13. 1911-12, The Falcon at the Portal (1999)
  14. 1912, The Painted Queen (2017, published out of sequence)
  15. 1914-15, He Shall Thunder in the Sky (2000)
  16. 1915-16, Lord of the Silent (2001)
  17. 1916-17, The Golden One (2002)
  18. 1919-20, Children of the Storm (2003)
  19. 1922-23, The Serpent on the Crown (2005)
  20. 1922-23, Tomb of the Golden Bird (2006)

Tropes featured include:

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  • Action Girl: Amelia and Nefret both start out as this, fighting villains on equal terms with their male partners. Both ultimately graduate to Action Moms.
  • Action Hero: Emerson and Ramses. In the later novels, Ramses usually gets beaten up at least once a book.
  • Action Dad: Dr. Radcliffe Emerson, Amelia's Egyptologist-detective husband, is always short-tempered and becomes absolutely volcanic at any threat to his family. Since he is regularly described by his narrator-wife as "Herculean" in build, the results are impressive. For that matter, his son Ramses inherits this trait.
  • Action Mom:
    • Amelia Peabody Emerson is an Action Mom who carries a steel tipped parasol, a gun and a knife — and still is unequal to her son Ramses.
    • Ramses' wife, Nefret Emerson, seems to be carrying on her mother-in-law's legacy quite well, being the mother of twins and still keeping up with her husband in the dangerous games of disguise and espionage that he plays with his bloodbrother, David Todros.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Amelia and her husband Emerson, Victorian Egyptologists who originally bonded over their passion for preserving and learning from the artifacts that they discover. These two go out of their way to subvert several aspects of the trope though: they regard their adventures as interruptions, most of the time, and are always itching to get back to The Dig; and they are stridently clear about Egyptian artifacts belonging to the Egyptians, not, for instance, the British Museum, and make frequent derogatory remarks about the treasure-hunting approach of their predecessors and some of their contemporaries.
  • Affably Evil: Sethos lives and breathes this trope. He may be a criminal (at least, until he pulls a Heel–Face Turn), but he has his own code of conduct and avoids harming innocents.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Amelia and Emerson are professional Victorian Egyptologists, but they also wind up doing a lot of sleuthing over the course of the series.
  • Animal Lover: The whole core family. They all hate cruelty toward animals and despise wasteful "sport" hunting.
    • One of Amelia's Berserk Buttons is blatant animal abuse, and she insists on inspecting and doctoring all animals acquired for their digs before they are put to work. One of Abdullah's Catch Phrases in the early years is a resigned, 'Yes, Sitt Hakim, the donkeys have been washed'. At one point in Lord of the Silent, Ramses reminisces one one of his fondest childhood memories: Amelia calmly scrubbing a camel with a long-handled brush while it kicked and bellowed so violently that it took two of the expedition crew to hold it in place.
    • The Curse of the Pharaohs mentions an incident between Emerson and one of their neighbors in England: Amelia notes that she understands 'escorting the fox off the field when it's about to be trapped', but that 'pulling Sir Harold out of his saddle and thrashing him with his own riding crop' was a bit superfluous.
  • Apron Matron: Amelia Peabody Emerson herself. Her parasol is a weapon feared throughout Egypt (even before her husband gave her a sword-cane version in He Shall Thunder in the Sky), and senior British officials cringe at the thought of her tongue-lashings. In a later book, she reveals that she replaced all the steel 'bones' in her corset with custom made knives, including a couple that needed their own sheathes.
  • Badass in Distress: Most of the main cast take a turn at this, but Ramses is especially prone to it.
  • Badass Family: The Peabody-Emerson family consists of Badass Archaeologist Radcliffe Emerson; his Action Mom wife, Amelia Peabody Emerson, for whom a parasol is a deadly weapon; their son Ramses who reduces even them to quivering terror; foster-child and later daughter-in-law Nefret, who wields a mean knife; and Uncle Sethos, the former Master Criminal! Throw in ferocious Arab in-laws, a Battle Butler and household staff to match and you have a crew feared by enemies of knowledge and justice everywhere.
  • Battle Butler: Gargery, the Peabody-Emerson's butler, is a mean hand with a blackjack. The footmen are also useful in scrap and even the housemaids have learned not to scream or faint at the sight of blood.
  • Battle Couple:
    • Amelia and her husband Radcliffe Emerson: Egyptologists and incidental detectives. Despite the amount of time they waste going behind each other's backs in misguided attempts to protect each other, the climax of many of the stories has them side by side or back to back. Him with his 'Herculean Physique' (Amelia's phrase) and her with... well...
      Emerson (after witnessing her first Rage Blackout): There is blood on your parasol, Peabody.
    • Their son Walter "Ramses" Emerson and his wife Nefret are a somewhat milder example, as they prefer sneakier indirect methods. If they do need to resort to direct force, however: watch out. They coordinate well, and the pretty little surgeon has no compunction about cutting you. Her husband, on the other hand, would prefer to take you alive.
  • Be Careful What You Say: Evelyn states that she has so many children (six)... then she loses two, one to what is apparently SIDS, and one fighting in France in World War I.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The series centers around a family of Egyptologists working in Egypt in the 1880s-1920s. Since they have to make discoveries periodically, the author has them make all the discoveries of Flinders Petrie, a real-life Egyptologist who worked in the same era. In order to avoid the awkwardness of actually meeting him, the author gave the main character's husband an uncontrollable dislike of him.
  • The Berserker: Hurt her husband or her son and Amelia Peabody becomes something far more elemental than an English lady. Watch out for the parasol.
  • Beta Couple: Several — David and Lia, Cyrus and Catherine, Walter and Evelyn, Sethos and Margaret, Daoud and Kadija.
  • Big Brother Bully: Amelia got this from pretty much all her brothers, but especially her oldest brother James:
    "Dear Amelia. You haven't changed since you were a little girl. Do you remember the time..."
    There he stuck, probably because he couldn't recall any fond memories of our childhood. I certainly had none that included him.
  • Born Detective: Walter "Ramses" Emerson is the son of Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson, both archeologists and both Amateur Sleuths. He has been detecting with them since he was six or so, whether they want him to or not. He follows them in both careers, with a side-order of secret agent.
  • Brits Love Tea: Amelia, being a British archeologist in turn-of-the-century Egypt, quite frequently discusses the plot with other characters while passing out "the genial beverage," as she often call tea (though sometimes, after tense moments, "the genial beverage" is whiskey and soda).
  • Canon Welding: With Peters' Vicky Bliss series. A fairly early book establishes Amelia as an historical figure, and it turns out that one of the main characters in that series is descended from one of Ramses and Nefret's daughters.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Ramses cannot tell Nefret he's in love with her until fourteen years after they met. Justified by his being about eight or nine years old when it starts.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Amelia herself has several. She has a love for aphorisms, but these are all her:
      • "We must have a Council of War!" near the climax of most cases.
      • She frequently makes or consults "one of my little lists" of clues.
      • "Another shirt Ruined!" — Both Emerson and Ramses tend to be rather hard on their clothes, if for somewhat different reasons. There used to be a fansite for the series that used this as its name.
      • She often has "the direst of forebodings". The family eventually pick this one up, at least when they are expressing their misgivings to Amelia.
      • "I had, of course, considered that / thought of that / anticipated that"However, 
      • "I suspected him from the start!" — Ramses once remarked that this is meaningless because she always suspects everyone.
    • Abdullah in later books often laments: "Every year, another dead body." He's got a point.
    • Emerson eventually settles into a frustrated "Another cursed pair of young lovers" whenever he detects signs that Amelia's Shipper on Deck tendencies are going to distract from the Important archaeological work they have in front of them.
  • Cats Are Mean: Nefret's cat, Horus (introduced in The Ape That Guards the Balance), is a demon incarnate to everyone but Nefret and Sennia.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: The long line of Emerson cats all manage this without talking.
  • Child Prodigy: Ramses, to an insufferable degree. Funnily, Ramses comes to recognize this himself as an adult. Can't quite bring himself to apologize to his mother for this, though.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Amelia and Emerson intend Ramses and Nefret to be (adoptive) brother and sister. Ramses, however, never saw it that way; despite this, he won't tell Nefret until he has some indication she feels the same. After a great deal of angst on his part, Nefret eventually comes around.
  • The Clan: Egyptologist Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson are the founders of a clan, including their son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren, Emerson's brother and his wife (Amelia's best friend), and, through the marriage of a niece with the grandson of their Egyptian foreman, a large chunk of an Egyptian village. Oh, and there's the illegitimate half-brother and his liaisons. In the chronologically last book, their friends the Vandergelt family become linked to them by marriage as well (as David's cousin Jumana agrees to marry Cyrus' step-son Bertie).
  • Clothing Damage: Amelia's husband and son have a tendency to undergo this in practically every book, sometimes more than once, to the point where one of her catchphrases is "Another shirt ruined!"
  • Commuting on a Bus: Karl von Borg, Sethos.
  • Dead Person Conversation: Amelia has at least one dream-conversation with her deceased friend Abdullah in each novel since his death. They are cryptic enough that they do not interfere with fair play in the detection, but she believes them to be genuine.
  • Direct Line to the Author: The novels are framed as being excerpts from the rather extensive and detailed journals Amelia Peabody Emerson kept over many decades, starting approximately with her initial trip to Egypt in the 1880s, during which she met the man who would become her husband. Later volumes also include excerpts from "Manuscript H", written by Amelia's son Ramses. Elizabeth Peters takes on the role of the editor of these journals in the author's notes, which allows some extensive Lampshade Hanging: she often expresses exasperation at the inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the text, such as the signs that the journals were rewritten many years later with an eye towards publication ("Little Did I Know..."), and Amelia's tendency to put her own opinions in the mouths of her famous contemporaries.
  • Disappeared Dad: And husband. Sethos isn't very good at this kind of thing. Actually he's very good at the 'disappeared' part...
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Amelia tends to have premonitions, including a notable vision at the end of Seeing a Large Cat. Emerson thinks it's all nonsense though.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Amelia Peabody Emerson and her husband Professor Radcliffe Emerson, from The Ape Who Guards the Balance on, when Emerson gets his first motorcar. To be fair, cars were a novelty at the time, and neither ever had any formal driver's training, but Amelia's daughter-in-law tried to give her a lesson — and later made excuses never to ride with her again. As for the Professor, his style of driving is "floor it and hit the horn a lot" (not a quote from the books, but accurate), prompting Amelia to do her best to limit his opportunities to drive it or any other motor vehicle from then on.
  • Everyone Can See It: Ramses' love for Nefret is obvious to everyone from Abdullah to Tarek.
  • Exact Words: All of the Emersons, especially Amelia, tend to use these rather than outright lies when dissembling (including to each other).
  • The Exotic Detective: Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson, Egyptologists who detect because their path is littered with the bodies of murdered tomb robbers, spies, etc.
  • Faking the Dead: Sethos, the Master Criminal and eventually ally of Amelia and her family, does this twice. First in the climax of The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog (book 7 of the series), though this is not revealed until book 9 (Seeing a Large Cat), then a second time in the climax of He Shall Thunder in the Sky (book 15 chronologically), though this is not exposed until six months later in its direct sequel Lord of the Silent. Both times, he intercepted a bullet meant for Amelia with his own body and was believed to have died as a result, but actually recovered from his wound and resumed his activities.
  • Flirty Stepsiblings: Ramses and Nefret were raised as siblings from the ages of ten and thirteen, respectively, but ended up falling in love and marrying, albeit with some complications.
  • Flowery Insults: Amelia's husband Emerson is widely known in Egypt by the nickname "Abu Shitaim" or "Father of Curses" for his flowing, creative Arabic invective. The nickname is a compliment, as his Egyptian workmen consider proper cursing to be an art form. He seems less fluent when swearing in English, but since Amelia Bowdlerizes her own journals, we can't be sure.
  • Friendly Enemy: From the third book until sometime late in the series, Amelia Peabody-Emerson and the Master Criminal a.k.a Sethos, are enemies, mainly because the Emerson family are Egyptologists and the Master Criminal is, well, Exactly What It Says on the Tin mainly dealing in forging antiquities. Though they're bitter enemies, they have mutual respect for one another, to the point where Sethos often rescues Amelia or any member of the family from danger from any of the book's main antagonists. It isn't until the book He Shall Thunder in the Sky that it is discovered by Amelia's son Ramses, who was working as a spy for British Intelligence in World War I, that Sethos is actually his uncle — the illegitimate half-brother of Amelia's husband and Ramses' father Radcliffe Emerson, and they effectively ditch the "Enemies" part as a result.
  • Genius Bruiser: Amelia's husband, Egyptologist Radcliffe Emerson is described by his wife as "Herculean" and also as "the greatest archeologist of this or any other age." His daughter-in-law can do charity medical work safely in the worst slums partly because she is widely loved, but also because "I will tear out your liver" if a hair of her head is mussed.
  • Go to Your Room!: Ramses is often told this, with explicit instructions to stay there, because he will leave otherwise.
  • Happily Adopted: Nefret, Sennia and David Todros all become the wards of the Emerson brothers and their wives (the former two for Amelia and Emerson, the latter for Evelyn and Walter), and are very happy to become part of the family (Sennia is technically already part of the family, but was abandoned by her father Percy and is only brought to her great-aunt's attention by an unscrupulous pimp/con artist).
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Emerson is rather short-tempered,
  • Happily Married: Amelia and Emerson. Evelyn and Walter. Eventually David and Lia, and Nefret and Ramses.
    • Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson, archeologist detectives. They quarrel all the time, partly for the fun of it, but also hold each other in something like awe and devote a considerable part of their considerable will-powers to making the marriage work.
    • Their son Walter "Ramses" Emerson apparently learned from his parents' example and has this relationship with his wife Nefret.
    • Emerson's brother Walter, whom Ramses was named after, has a very happy marriage with his wife Evelyn. Despite a rough patch after their sixth and youngest child dies in infancy.
    • David and Lia also become this when they marry.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Sethos.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Nefret. When her hair isn't described as "golden", most characters seem to agree it's "red-gold".
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sethos twice! He gets better both times though.
  • Historical Domain Character: The Emersons have several friends who fit this class. Howard Carter, who found the tomb of Tutankhamen, appears a lot, and T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) shows up at least twice. Emerson has a particular dislike for fellow Egyptologist Flinders Petrie, possibly because Petrie is the Real Life model for Emerson and the fellow who in Real History developed many of the archaeological principles and techniques Amelia credits Emerson with devising.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Amelia and Emerson. He's 6 feet tall and massively muscular — his neck and shoulders are sometimes likened to those of a bull — with very strong hands.note  She's 5 foot nothing, and of a slender build.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Emerson does this all the time. You'll lose track of how many times he tells someone (especially Amelia) not to lose their temper, despite the fact that his own has earned him the nickname "Father of Curses" and everyone in Egypt is afraid to cross him.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Amelia rubbishes anyone trying to praise her appearance, constantly emphasising that her height, frame, facial features, complexion and jet black hair clash with late Victorian fashions; she is, in conclusion, not attractive. Several gentleman and definitely Emerson plus Sethos would beg to disagree.
  • Idiot Ball: Everyone at one time or another.
  • Kid Detective: Walter "Ramses" Emerson was an example (a master of disguise among other things) until, over the course of the series, he grew up. Since his marriage, he's produced his own frighteningly precocious children, who are following in his footsteps. His mother feels it serves him right.
    • Note that in the following passage, rescuing his parents, Ramses is about eight or nine:
    "Now, Mama, Papa, and sir," said Ramses, "please withdraw to the farthest corner and crouch down with your backs turned. It is as I feared: we will never break through by this method. The walls are eight feet thick. Fortunately I brought along a little nitroglycerine—"
    "Oh, good Gad," shrieked Inspector Cuff.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: Amelia and her whole family are fond of cats, and "the Cat Bastet" (always referred to in full) is a character in several of the novels, as are her descendants Horus, Seshat, and the Great Cat of Re.
  • Knew It All Along: Amelia and Emerson both like to claim to be better at detective work than they actually are:
    • In The Curse of the Pharaohs, most of the "deductions" Emerson claims to have made were actually things he had no idea about until the killer confessed.
    • In The Deeds of the Disturber, Amelia gives The Summation to their assembled friends, explaining why one person and one person only could be the mastermind behind the murders. When she and Emerson are in bed together later, however, they both confess that they had both suspected the wrong person right up until The Reveal.
  • Lady of Adventure: Amelia. Nefret and Margret Minton are, too, though not in Amelia's league.
  • Lamarck Was Right:
    • Ramses inherits his talents at disguise and general sneakiness from his uncle Sethos. Let's face it, Amelia and Emerson would make a good army just by themselves, but sneakiness isn't exactly among their considerable talents.
    • Also, the character in the Vicky Bliss series who turns out to be descended from Ramses? Starts off as a master thief and antiquity smuggler, with a knack for disguise.
  • Large Ham: Emerson might grumble about the wasted time, but he really gets into the exorcisms that he throws when setting up camp in abandoned buildings, empty tombs, and the like. These locations invariably have reputations for being haunted, and the antics of the criminals that the family contend with don't help. The superstitious local workmen are usually much reassured after he's put on a "magic" show, complete with special effects. He's pretty good at it: the shows are perpetually popular even with his trained cadre, who have had enough experience to suspect human evildoers before Afrits and Djinn.
  • Last-Name Basis: Amelia and her husband Radcliffe Emerson fondly refer to each other by their last names, in memory of their rather tumultuous courtship. That Prof. Emerson from the first with less than affection addresses Miss Peabody by her last name alone, as though she were a man, indicates that he respects her as an equal.
  • Loophole Abuse: During her son's childhood, Amelia is always forbidding Ramses from speaking of something or carrying out some action or another, and then adding extra details to her prohibitions while mentally noting that he's already thinking of ways to get around it and that she needs to be careful to close these loopholes before he can make use of them.
    • In Deeds of the Disturber, Amelia has to forbid him from leaving his room unless there is genuine danger that will result if he stays in it. He subsequently leaves to alert his mother that said room is on fire.
  • Love at First Sight: At one point, Ramses says outright that he had this for Nefret, regardless of the fact he was a child at the time.
  • Love at First Punch:
    • Love at First Shout, at least: Amelia and Emerson first meet in a museum where he lambastes her for daring to dust some of the artifacts. She gives as good as she gets. She spends the rest of the afternoon grousing about how rude and unpleasant he is, but then she meets an aristocratic young man and can't help comparing their manner, physique, hands... the young dandy comes off much the worse in the comparison.
    • It's unclear exactly when Sethos develops his crush on Amelia, but it's quite probable that it dates from when one of his henchmen knocks Ramses into a wall, leading Amelia to think he's been killed. She goes utterly berserk, beats up the henchmen, and stabs Sethos with her parasol, sending him fleeing into the night screaming in pain and fear. The next we hear from him, he's sending her utterly miscalculated love gifts.
  • Love Epiphany: When Nefret finally realizes how she feels about Ramses, the sound she makes is described as half squeak, half sob.
  • Loyal Animal Companion: The Cat Bastet note , for Ramses. She's also pretty intelligent for a cat. To the extent that early in Seeing a Large Cat, on learning she had died about a month before, Ramses admits that he had a dream of her the night she died (he was away at the time), which is implied to be her personal farewell to him after death. But then, she is an Egyptian cat. Her grandson Horus (introduced in The Ape Who Guards the Balance) becomes this to Nefret, and later Sennia as well.
  • Mama Bear: While Amelia does love Ramses she's very unsentimental about it, much to the frustration of Emerson who wishes she'd be more affectionate towards their only child. Then during the family's first proper encounter with Sethos, one of the Master Criminal's henchmen slams Ramses into a wall and Amelia believes he's dead. The next thing she remembers is Emerson shaking her out of her blind rage, the henchmen cowering on the floor and begging for mercy, a bloodstained parasol from having stabbed Sethos with it, and Ramses pressed flat against the wall in sheer terror.
    • She also takes a bullet meant for him in The Serpent on the Crown
  • Master of Disguise: Sethos and Ramses both. Ramses, in fact, developed his own skill at disguise while still a young boy, after stealing one of Sethos' rather comprehensive makeup kits; for a while before puberty he was in the habit of disguising himself so convincingly as a girl that the Emersons' servants thought they were being haunted by a child's ghost. In The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog, Sethos spends most the plot hanging out with Amelia, disguised as her and Emerson's good friend Cyrus Vandergelt, and she can't tell the difference.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Amelia often dreams of her old friend Abdullah after he is killed in The Ape Who Guards the Balance. Only he looks young now, and he was old when they met... He offers promptings, rather than clues, about the mystery of the moment... mostly. She comes to believe she's really meeting her old friend in the afterlife. Her family are not so sure, though their skepticism is showing signs of erosion by the end of the series.
  • Mighty Whitey: Both used and subverted. Amelia and her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren are all white and regarded with awe, admiration, and dread by the Egyptians they work with, but one of the causes they champion is equal rights for Egyptians, and they cultivate some impressive Egyptian sidekicks (though none in their own league).
    • In The Last Camel Died at Noon, Amelia and family visit a Lost World, where Amelia is irritated to discover that the heroic native prince believes in the Mighty Whitey trope.
  • Mindlink Mates: Ramses and Nefret Emerson have a one-way link (which is explained to some extent in He Shall Thunder in the Sky), whereby Nefret knows when Ramses is in imminent danger.
  • Mr. Smith: A recurring character, introduced in Lord of the Silent, is a British spymaster who often goes by "Smith" — partly because spies use pseudonyms and partly because it's so much easier than coping with his real name of "the Honorable Algernon Bracegirdle-Boisdragon".
  • "Near and Dear" Baby Naming: Walter "Ramses" Emerson is named for his paternal uncle, his and Nefret's twins Charlotte are named for Amelia's mother and David Todros and Ramses's cousin John. Walter and Evelyn's daughter Amelia "Lia" is named after Amelia, and David and Lia's son Abudullah "Dolly" is named for David's grandfather.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: The cat Bastet in several of the early novels, even though these are mysteries, not fantasies. She is amazingly, though not quite supernaturally, intelligent and loyal. When she eventually dies at an advanced age in Seeing a Large Cat, other cats show up — sometimes her descendants, sometimes just adopted strays — to continue the tradition, though only her daughter comes close to her calibre. By the way, the stories mostly take place in Egypt and the cat Bastet is always referred to as "the cat Bastet", never just "Bastet", as if even the very unsuperstitious Emersons wanted to be careful that she not be mistaken for any other Bastet.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Amelia's son Walter "Ramses" Emerson is attracted to his adopted sister Nefret pretty much from the moment he meets her, but it takes Nefret a long time to see Ramses as anything other than an Annoying Younger Sibling.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Amelia's son Ramses. No, a Victorian Age English couple did not name their son after an Egyptian Pharaoh, but you could be forgiven for thinking they did, given how rarely his real name (Walter) is mentioned in the books.
    • Sethos too — his real name of Seth isn't even revealed until Children of the Storm, fifteenth in publishing order and eighteenth in in-universe chronological order.
  • Papa Wolf: Dr. Radcliffe Emerson, the Egyptologist-detective husband of Amelia Peabody, is always short-tempered and becomes absolutely volcanic at any threat to his family. Since he is regularly described by his narrator-wife as "Herculean" in build, the results are impressive. For that matter, his son Ramses inherits this trait. Shades into Helicopter Parents with regard to Nefret sometimes; not so much about sex as about shielding her from the world's ugliness. He'll say she shouldn't be permitted to examine a gruesome corpse, ignoring the fact that she's a fully trained doctor and would politely and lovingly tell him where to stuff his objections. At least once after she and Ramses married, Ramses got a bit irritated by Emerson's attitude effectively implying that Ramses didn't do a proper job of looking after her; he was rather maliciously amused when Emerson became embarrassed to realize Nefret was taking a bath in the next room.
  • Parasol of Pain: Amelia makes an art form of this, to the point that some superstitious 19th-century Egyptians believe it to be a magical weapon. By the time she's in her 50s, Amelia actually has custom parasols made with extra-strong steel shafts and unusually sharp, pointed finials so they aren't destroyed by the damage she deals with them and can stand up to the rigors of hiking in rough terrain and scrambling around ruins. To top it off, at least one is built along the lines of a sword cane — this latter is a special present from her husband in He Shall Thunder in the Sky, which delights her even though she doesn't actually know how to fence. Aside from this version, she's used them for:
    • Making a path through packed crowds.
    • Smartly applying them to the wrist to fend off women who are being inappropriately clingy around her husband.
    • Stabbing people who attack her son.
    • Intimidation, at least once she's developed a bit of a reputation.
  • Police Are Useless: Amelia Peabody and her husband, who are detective archeologists, routinely ignore the police in their detective work due to believing in this trope and using it as an excuse to pursue their investigations as they see fit. Justified, in that their adventures happen in Egypt in the 1880s to 1920s, where the police are indeed ineffectual (due to a lack of training), violent, corrupt or afraid to press matters when a European is suspected of being the criminal. Less so when in England, where there are competent investigators; the friction that this attitude causes makes applying Amelia and Emerson's real expertise in Egyptian culture to incidents involving London's Cairene population... more difficult than it needs to be. Things get better by the end of the series, but by then, their habits are ingrained, to the chagrin of the new police inspector.
  • Posthumous Collaboration: The Painted Queen was started by Barbara Mertz (AKA Elizabeth Peters) and finished by her friend and collaborator Joan Hess.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Mary and Karl von Borg debut in book 2, and go multiple books without ever appearing.
    • Percy Emerson debuts in book 4 and is then absent for seven books in a row, by chronological order.
    • The Frasers debut in book 4, reappear in book 9, and have little role otherwise.
  • Raised by Natives: Nefret Forth fits this trope morally if not factually. Her parents were 19th-century explorers who discovered a remnant of ancient Egyptian civilization in a lost oasis and spent the rest of their lives there, Going Native in varying degrees. When Amelia and her family arrive, they find the 13-year-old Nefret being high priestess of Isis. Her parents being dead by the end of the book, Nefret goes back to Western civilization with the Emersons, where she has a realistically rough time fitting in.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Unsurprisingly, considering the setting, some form of this is always used by someone, protagonists included.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    • Walter "Ramses" Emerson tends to embody this trope through his younger years, though he (mostly) grows out of it by around age 20, as stated by Amelia in Guardian of the Horizon.
    • Then, in the very end of Children on the Storm, his son is revealed to be the same way. In fact, David John's first sentences are requesting to be called by his full name and "What subject would you like to discuss?" which prompts Amelia to beg Emerson for a drink.
    • Amelia herself could actually fit this trope in many regards, although it may be more her old-fashioned manner of narration than excessive verbosity.
  • Shipper on Deck: Amelia. Every book, sometimes for more than one couple. Methods range from moderately subtle such as , to practically whacking Walter upside the head when he Can't Spit It Out.
    • In Crocodile on The Sandbank she encourages Evelyn to express her feelings to Walter, despite Evelyn's fears that her Defiled Forever status would lead to a painful rejection. Turns out that Amelia read Walter correctly.
    • Hilariously misaimed in Curse of The Pharaohs: Mary has been very assiduously nursing Arthur, who is recovering from a serious head injury. As the denouement unfolds, Amelia drags the conversation outside of his room, leaving Mary behind. Some time later, Mary joins the party, and we get this exchange:
    Mary: He is asleep, I am so happy for him. He will so enjoy being lord Baskerville.
    Amelia: And I am happy for you.
    Mary (blushing): But how did you know? We haven't told anyone yet.
    Amelia: I always know these things.
    • Cue Karl stepping over to Mary and putting his arm around her. Mary snuggles in. Of course... 
  • Shout-Out: Multiple throughout the series.
    • To Sherlock Holmes — the second book has characters belonging to a different branch of the Baskerville family, a German named Von Bork, and someone under the pseudonym of Milverton, as well as a direct reference to Holmes, while book four has Amelia meet a detective named Tobias Gregson who's not actually either of those things. There are also references to H. Rider Haggard's stories, in addition to the Homage mentioned above involving Nefret's backstory.
    • Elizabeth Peters is a Discworld fan. One of the World War I-era stories had Sethos pretending to be a German agent reporting to a "von Überwald".
  • Shown Their Work: The Egyptology and history of archeology in the series is solid, because the author, Elizabeth Peters (IRL Barbara Mertz) is an Egyptologist and writes non-fiction under her real name.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Amelia and Nefret and to a lesser extent Evelyn. Literally in the case of their parasols.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Emerson, which earns him the epithet "Father of Curses". Ramses is less prone to this, but on one occasion, he "breathed out a word even his father seldom used" when rescuing David. Nefret will swear on occasion, but justifiably when she is giving birth to the twins, Ramses tells the "Father of Curses" that, "At your most eloquent you’ve never surpassed it”
  • Stroke the Beard: Archeologist Radcliffe Emerson had a beard when he met Amelia, but not after they married; he still strokes his chin meditatively as an action-equivalent to a Catchphrase. The habit has even been picked up by other characters, including his daughter-in-law.
  • Title Drop: In several of the novels.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The series provides a fantastic example; the narrator's depth stems from her unreliability as a narrator, which can be due to either omission or equivocation. She reports her perceptions, but despite her vaunted skills in understanding people, she routinely misses the actual meaning of events; for example, when people speaking with her begin coughing, she totally misses their disguised laughter and offers them cough drops. She also is often oblivious to her own viewpoints and prejudices, and even when she is aware of them, pride stops her from relating them to the reader. Victorian sensibilities also prevent her from discussing delicate subjects.
  • Unto Us a Son and Daughter Are Born: Ramses and Nefret eventually have a son and daughter between the events of The Golden One, when the pregnancy is announced, and Children of the Storm, set a few years later.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: As noted in Historical Domain Character, Emerson and Peabody clearly are versions of Real Life Flinders Petrie and his friend and patron Amelia Edwards, embellished up to 11 and married to each other.
  • Victorian London: The series starts in this period and moves through The Gay '90s into World War I. But Amelia and her husband (though notably not her children) retain their Victorian London sensibilities throughout. Most of their adventures actually happen in Egypt, as they are archaeologists.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Emerson, Ramses, and Sethos.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Emerson for all his large physique, short temper and boisterousness, would never harm — or allow any harm to come to — a child, his or anyone else's.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Amelia and her husband scrap all the time, but she knows he's only really angry at her when he calls her "Amelia" rather than the usual "Peabody".

    Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975; covers 1884-85) 

  • Anguished Declaration of Love: In Crocodile on the Sandbank, Emerson, realizing that he might very well die that night, gives Amelia a long, passionate kiss — even at the risk of living to face the consequences, which turn out to be a long and happy marriage.
  • Cannot Spit It Out:
    • Amelia's companion Evelyn and Emerson's brother Walter in Crocodile on the Sandbank. Amelia eventually gets so fed-up with both of them that she spits it out for Evelyn:
      Amelia: She loves someone else...The one she loves is a poor wretch who won't even declare himself.
      Walter: You cannot mean...
      Amelia: Yes, you fool. She loves you. I don't know why, but she does. Now go and claim her.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Evelyn Barton-Forbes elopes with her painting tutor and is disinherited, though later re-instated. Her cousin, Luigi is the son of an Italian father, and his mother was disowned for marrying him.
  • Disinherited Child: As discussed in Crocodile on the Sandbank, the Earl of Ellesmere disinherited his daughter for marrying an Italian, and later his granddaughter Evelyn when she fell for an Italian as well and ran off with him (not realizing he was a con artist). Later subverted in the latter case, as he changed his mind and hand-wrote a new will officially leaving everything to her.
  • Dude, She's Like in a Coma: In Crocodile on a Sandbank, Amelia comes out of a swoon to feel herself being tenderly held and kissed by her not-yet-husband Emerson with whom she has a Slap-Slap-Kiss relationship going. Not only is she totally fine with it, she shams unconsciousness for a few more minutes to prolong the moment!
  • Fee Fi Faux Pas: Amelia manages a rather large one very near the beginning of Crocodile on the Sandbank. She claims that what she says upon hearing Evelyn's tearful, angsty, "I was seduced and now you are going to kick me back out on the street" confession is not what she meant to saynote :
    Amelia: Evelyn — what is it like? Is it pleasant?
    [Despite her own surprise, she decides to roll with it:]
    Amelia: I have never had the opportunity of inquiring. My sisters in law... speak of the cross a wife must bear... [but] the village girls...
    [Cue starving, borderline-suicidal Evelyn doubled over laughing.]
  • Flirting Under Fire: In Crocodile on the Sandbank, Emerson kisses Amelia right before the final battle, "even at the risk of surviving to face the consequences."
  • Lost Will and Testament: In Crocodile on the Sandbank, the importance of the MacGuffin turns out to be that it has a lost will hidden inside.
  • Now or Never Kiss: In Crocodile on the Sandbank, Radcliffe Emerson, the dashing Egyptologist whom Amelia thinks merely respects and grudgingly admires her, realizes that either or both of them could be killed within minutes by the villain, and refuses to die without having at least kissed her — passionately and at length, right on the floor of the tomb where they're hiding — even at the risk of living to face the consequences. Said consequences turn out to be a long and happy marriage.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance:
    • Crocodile on the Sandbank reveals that Amelia inherited her father's full estate, since she was the only one who shared his interest in ancient history. Her six older brothers, who were all successful merchants and professional men, were not amused to find out they'd missed out on half a million pounds (having not realized that their father was actually wealthy), and multiple attempts were made to claim the sum for themselves, though Amelia and her father's lawyer stopped all of them.
    • In the same book, this isn't done intentionally by the Earl of Ellesmere (at least, not at first), but effectively when his son died; his title had to go to the closest male heir (his grandson by his eldest and disinherited daughter) by law, preventing his granddaughter Evelyn from getting everything. He later disinherited her entirely when she fell for an Italian, who turned out to be a con artist. At least, for a while. He later changed his mind and wrote a new will, giving her everything, before dying.
  • Raised by Grandparents: Evelyn was raised by her grandfather, as she explains in book 1, her parents having died when she was a baby.
  • Shipping Torpedo: Crocodile on the Sandbank plays with this with Emerson's attitude toward the developing relationship between his brother Walter and the penniless Evelyn. He's constantly snarking at something or other that they are saying or doing, and Amelia spends most of the book thinking that the reason that he keeps dropping rude or disparaging comments into her conversations with Evelyn and Walter because he disapproves of a match. Ultimately subverted, as his disparaging comments, often crossing the line into rude, are calculated to goad his shy little brother into making a decisive stand for Evelyn.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Amelia and Emerson's relationship started with a shouted argument in a museum in Crocodile on the Sandbank. This seems to be their primary way of discussing important issues, though they never escalate to the point of actual blows. After a quarter century of this, Emerson even advises Ramses that regular brisk "discussions" are good for the health of a marital relationship; clearing the air and enhancing the mood for post-argument romance.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Amelia and Evelyn fall under this trope in Crocodile on the Sandbank. Less so by the time Evelyn reappears as a major character in later books, when it's obvious they did learn from each other — for instance, Amelia, who was utterly uninterested in all but the most utilitarian clothes at the beginning now can talk fashion with the best of them, and Evelyn is thrilled about wearing bloomers and bicycle dresses.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never hear about Cousin Luigi again
  • You Must Be Cold: Played with in Crocodile on the Sandbank. Amelia finds a young woman who has fainted in the streets of Rome and is appalled that none of the men nearby have invoked this trope. Amelia proceeds to confiscate the coat of the nearest man (insulting him in the process) and uses it to cover the woman.

    The Curse of the Pharaohs (1981; covers 1892-93) 

  • Abhorrent Admirer: In The Curse of the Pharaohs, Amelia's husband Emerson manages to attract the attentions of Madame Berengeria, a loathsome woman who is convinced that she and Emerson were lovers in Ancient Egypt. Being Emerson, he's as annoyed by the historical inaccuracies in her story of their past lives as he is by the lady herself.
  • Covered in Mud: In The Curse of the Pharaohs, Amelia's son Ramses interrupts a tea party after having gone digging in the compost heap and getting covered in mud (among other things). Ramses is described as not so much leaving muddy footprints as having a stream of filth trailing behind him.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Used in Curse of the Pharaohs, when Emerson is accused of raising his voice, and proceeds to deny doing so... by yelling it at the top of his lungs.
    "I never raise my voice," Emerson bellowed. A ghostly echo came rolling back from the depths of the tomb, as if the king's spirit were objecting to being awakened.

    The Mummy Case (1985; covers 1894-95) 

  • Riding into the Sunset: Invoked and lampshaded in The Mummy Case. When M. de Morgan returns Ramses to his parents after a minor escapade, he deliberately rides off toward the sunset, despite having dinner plans in the opposite direction. The Emersons dryly agree:
    Frenchmen — Anything for a grand gesture!

    Lion in the Valley (1986; covers 1895-96) 

  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Amelia and her husband have some interesting conversations. As shown in Lion in the Valley, what do you talk about while crawling through the unstable, half-crumbled passages of an un-excavated pyramid, hoping that your 7 year old son is right when he says he knows a way out? The similarities of construction with other 12th Dynasty pyramids, of course!
  • Cock Fight: Amelia finds watching her husband Emerson fight the 'Master Criminal' Sethos for her to be quite an 'interesting and stimulating sensation'.
  • Cyanide Pill: In Lion in the Valley, one of Sethos's men is captured by Amelia, and takes poison (prussic acid) rather than be questioned.
  • Go-Go Enslavement: Amelia Peabody Emerson is captured by the Big Bad in Lion in the Valley and required to dress herself in a sexy harem costume. She keeps her long Victorian underwear on though, meaning the effect is not quite as intended. Even so, Emerson's first words to her are "Put some clothes on!"
  • Hypocritical Humor: Two-fer in Lion in The Valley: Amelia claims to prefer H. Rider Haggard's romances to Ramses' detective novels because the former are "pure fantasy and don't pretend to be anything else" while complaining that the later arrive at their solutions by "wild guesses that turned out to be correct only because of... plot", instead of true reasoning. A few pages later, she says "I knew I was being observed... with the certain instinct described so well by Mr. Haggard". Also note that Amelia's approach to solving mysteries tends to be "intuitive". At least Ms. Peters plays fair, and lets her be wrong sometimes.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: In Lion in the Valley, Amelia uses the following line to explain why Bastet wasn't hungry — she'd already been fed by the book's villain:
    Amelia: "Emerson, that villain, that remarkable, clever wretch has seduced our cat!"
  • Love Makes You Dumb: When Sethos reveals his adoration for Amelia, he lists all the things he's done throughout the novel in order to try and win her regard. They are, to a one, silly, convoluted or both.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Happens to Ramses, particularly in Lion in the Valley.
  • Oblivious to Love: Amelia spends the entirety of Lion in the Valley completely oblivious to the fact that the 'master criminal' she is tracking down is in love with her. Her husband Emerson, however, is not so clueless, growing incredibly jealous and paranoid as a result, and getting increasingly annoyed at both the criminal and his oblivious wife. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Villainous Crush: Late in the book, Amelia finds out that the Master Criminal, aka Sethos, has one of these on her; he's even sent her flowers.

    Deeds of the Disturber (1988; covers Summer 1896) 

  • Auto Erotica: Slightly unconventional and Downplayed a bit. Emerson and Amelia make out in the back of a (horse-drawn) cab on the way home from a stressful day. Amelia notes that something about cabs — she's not sure if it's the smell of the leather, the sound of the horses' hoofbeats, or the dark enclosed space — tends to inspire Emerson.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In The Deeds of the Disturber, Emerson examines a threatening note and proclaims (in a very Sherlock Holmes-esque way) that he can tell from the handwriting it was written 'by a man of education with a pen that needed mending'. Amelia understandably writes this off as complete nonsense. Enter their son Ramses... who then proceeds to make exactly the same comment, much to Amelia's annoyance.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Violet Peabody is only seen in Deeds of the Disturber. She's mentioned briefly in The Falcon at the Portal, but otherwise never reappears.

    The Last Camel Died at Noon (1991; covers 1897-98) 

  • Child by Rape: The Emersons meet Mrs. Forth, who believes herself to the the God's Wife of Amon and wants nothing to do with her English identity. Tarek explains that she tried to kill Nefret twice before she was born. Amelia suspects postpartum depression. But Emerson speculates that Nefret her loathing of the name Forth and attempts to murder Nefret are the result of her father-in-law raping her, and the reason Willie Forth and his wife ended up on the Lost Oasis where they both rejected their former lives.
  • Convenient Eclipse: Subverted in The Last Camel Died At Noon, an Affectionate Parody of King Solomon's Mines. The Emersons are in a lost civilization and looking to impress the natives. Amelia asks Emerson if a Convenient Eclipse is coming up by any chance, and his response is essentially, "How the Hell would I know? I'm an archaeologist, not an astronomer."
  • Did You Die?: The Last Camel Died at Noon starts with Amelia, her husband Emerson, and their son Ramses lost in the Nubian desert, several days away from the Nile, after the death of their last camel. There is then an extended flashback to show how they came to be in this situation, which Amelia assures the reader is not for the purposes of causing any suspense about her survival because "Obviously I could not be writing this if I were in the same state as those poor camels."
  • Hypocritical Humor: At one point in The Last Camel Died at Noon, Amelia pats herself on the back for nagging her husband into a certain course of action. When it goes badly a few pages later, she notes that if he'd listened to her, he would never have taken that course. Apparently, she forgot to edit the relevant portion of her journal.
  • Lost World: The book sees the Emersons setting out and discovering a hidden civilization.
  • Man-Made House Flood: In The Last Camel Died at Noon, Amelia gets home from a trip to London to learn that her son Ramses had been about to take a bath when he'd been distracted by his cat catching a mouse, and had neglected to turn off the water, causing both a flood in the bathroom, and a cascade of water coming down from the ceiling into his father's study. Amelia promptly decides that she doesn't want to know any more details, and tells her maid to just give Amelia her whiskey and go away.

    The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog (1992; covers 1898-99) 

  • Amnesiac Lover: The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog features Amelia's husband Emerson losing his memories of meeting, falling in love with, and marrying her early on. Even after he's recovered, he fakes still having amnesia about his relationship with Amelia until the climax.
  • Faking the Dead: Sethos, in the climax of The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog, when he's disguised as Cyrus Vandergelt and shot by Leopold Vincey, the villain of the book. However, his survival is not revealed until the events of Seeing a Large Cat.

    Seeing a Large Cat (1997; covers 1903-04) 

  • The Bus Came Back: The Frasers (originally from Lion in the Valley) reappear in Seeing A Large Cat.

    The Ape Who Guards the Balance (1998; covers 1906-07) 

  • Heroic Sacrifice: Abdullah, who dies Taking the Bullet for Amelia when her enemy Bertha tries to shoot her late in The Ape Who Guards the Balance.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Walter and Evelyn vehemently and Amelia more mildly objects to David's relationship with Lia. Everyone comes around eventually.

    Guardian of the Horizon (2004; covers 1907-08) 

  • The Usurper: When the Emersons arrive at the Lost Oasis, they find King Tarek is in exile, with his position usurped by a man named Zekare. In the climax, Zekare's son Marasen betrays and murders him in an attempt to usurp the throne for himself, but he's defeated and killed, and Tarek reclaims his throne.

    The Falcon at the Portal (1999; covers 1911-12) 

  • The Bus Came Back: Fifteen in-universe years after his last appearance in The Deeds of the Disturber, Percy Peabody reappears in The Falcon at the Portal.
  • Disney Villain Death: During the climax, while the Emersons are working in a pyramid, Geoffrey Godwin attacks Amelia and is knocked off-balance by Ramses, acting to protect his mother, falling into a pit. Though Ramses grabs onto Geoffrey in an attempt to save him, the other man claws Ramses' hands, breaks loose and falls to his death.
  • Downer Ending: Not usually, but The Falcon at the Portal did not end on a happy note. Nefret had married Geoffrey Godwin after Ramses briefly denied Sennia was his, out of anger over both the accusation and the denial, but in the climax, Geoffrey turns out to be the book's villain and deliberately lets himself fall to his death, leaving Nefret a widow. To top it off, she suffers a miscarriage — revealed in He Shall Thunder in the Sky to have been Ramses's child, conceived the night before Sennia was brought to the family — shortly after, falls into depression, and goes off to another country on a doctor's advice.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: This is what allows Sennia (the three-year-old illegitimate daughter of Percival "Percy" Peabody) to be passed off as Ramses' child when she's introduced in The Falcon at the Portal.
  • Tempting Fate: In The Falcon at the Portal Nefret asks Lia in a letter, "What could Percy do to hurt Ramses?" They find out very quickly when he arranges to have his daughter brought to the family, claiming Ramses is the girl's father.

    The Painted Queen (2017; covers 1912) 

  • Avenging the Villain: The story starts when Amelia is bathing and a man comes into her bathroom with the intention of attacking her. It's eventually discovered that he was one of Geoffrey Godwin's five half-brothers, who are seeking vengeance for Geoffrey's death in The Falcon at the Portal. Their mother is also part of the group, and dies late in the book, while the fifth brother is finally exposed and, unlike his mother and brothers, captured by Amelia.
  • In the Back: The plot kicks off when Amelia is bathing and a man who's been stabbed in the back comes into her bathroom, utters "You!" and "Murder", then drops dead.

    He Shall Thunder in the Sky (2000; covers 1914-15) 

  • Accidental Misnaming: A cab driver calls Ramses "Brother of Curses" in the first chapter of He Shall Thunder in the Sky.
  • Connected All Along: Sethos is revealed to be Emerson and Walter's paternal half brother very late in He Shall Thunder in the Sky (conceived by their father and his mistress). The same book introduces Melinda "Molly" Hamilton, who's revealed to be Sethos' illegitimate daughter by his former associate Bertha.
  • Foreshadowing: In a scene in chapter four, Nefret says that Major Hamilton had "behaved rather like an indulgent uncle" to her. It's revealed late in the book that Hamilton was actually a disguised Sethos, and that Sethos is Emerson's illegitimate half-brother.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sethos, again, when he once more takes a bullet for Amelia in the climax — this time from her nephew Percy.
  • In the Back: During the final chapter, Nefret attacks an already-wounded Percy this way, clutching her knife in both hands and bringing it down into his back. It's later revealed that it was Sethos' bullets and not her stab wound that killed him though.
  • A Taste of the Lash: After finding Ramses spying on him late in the book, Percy does this to him.

    Lord of the Silent (2001; covers 1915-16) 

  • Faking the Dead: Lord of the Silent reveals that Sethos had done this a second time at the end of He Shall Thunder in the Sky. Emerson is not pleased when he finds out, and at the end of the book makes the following comment:
    Emerson: "I wish he would turn to a line of work that doesn't interfere with mine, but I can even put up with that, unless..."
    Amelia: "Unless what, Emerson?"
    Emerson: "Unless he has the damned audacity to die again!"
  • War Is Hell: Cyrus' stepson Bertie is invalided out of service after two years of service in World War I. More than his physical recovery, he badly needs someone sympathetic to listen to his doubts about his war service, and Ramses (who posed as a conscientious objector) plays this role for him:
    Nefret: Was it very bad?
    Ramses: About what you'd expect. Mud, vermin, fear, loneliness, disillusionment. The worst of it was realizing that the enemy weren't demons, but men like himself. Just as lonely for their homes and families, just as frightened.

    The Golden One (2002; covers 1916-17) 

  • Altar Diplomacy: Attempted in The Golden One. While Ramses is in the hands of Ismail Pasha and Sahin Pasha, Sahin attempts to lure Ramses to his side, suggesting that if Ramses betrayed his country and joined them, he could convert to Islam and be given Sahin's daughter Esin for a second bride. Ramses, of course, declines.

    Children of the Storm (2003; covers 1919-20) 

  • Avenging the Villain: This turns out to be the goal of the villain, Justin(e), in Children of the Storm — she's out to avenge the death of her mother Bertha, Sethos' old associate, and unwittingly (as she doesn't mention him) that of her father Leopold Vincey, who was the villain of The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog.
  • Baby's First Words: In Children of the Storm, Ramses and Nefret's twins Charlotte and David John's first words (in proper English, at least) are actually sentences. Charlotte asks "Is de lady dead?" revealing how Justine had been scaring her, and David John asks to be called by his full name and asks his mother what subject she would like to discuss. Having dealt with Ramses' lisp and verbosity, Amelia sits down and asks for a drink.
  • Cutlass Between the Teeth: Discussed in Children of the Storm when the group is planning their attack on the Isis, and Ramses wonders if they should do this when they arrive. Amelia's reply:
    "That has always struck me as an impractical procedure," I said. "One would have to have extremely hard teeth and strong jaw muscles, and even then an involuntary movement might easily result in the loss of teeth and jaw."
    • Despite her skepticism, Amelia later expresses regret that she couldn't have a cutlass between her teeth when she boarded the Isis. As she puts it, "Ah, well, one cannot have everything."
  • Disguised in Drag: Throughout much of Children of the Storm, the Emersons meet a boy named Justin. In the last few chapters, it's revealed he's actually a woman, the daughter of Leopold Vincey (the villain from The Snake, the Crocodile, and the Dog) and Bertha (who was a villain in the same book, along with The Hippopotamus Pool and The Ape Who Guards the Balance), and older half-sister of Maryam.
  • First Gray Hair: Amelia started discovering her first gray hair, over and over, around about World War I, as discussed in Children of the Storm. Every time she spots one, she dyes it from a little bottle that she keeps dead secret (or did until her brother-in-law needed to make an emergency disguise in a later book).
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: This is Amelia's reaction at the very end of the book when Ramses and Nefret's twins Charlotte and David John speak proper English for the first time, in the form of full sentences.
  • Taking You with Me: In the climax, Justin locks herself in her quarters onboard the Isis and lights the dynamite that she's rigged the boat with, trying to kill the Emersons and their allies at the cost of her own life.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Justin(e) and her henchmen have been holding Maryam's son (and Sethos' grandson) hostage to force her to work with them.