Silver Travel Book Club

October 2022 – The Earl and the Pharaoh

We’ll explore a different destination for each Book Club, and a lucky Silver Travel Book Club reader can win a free copy of that month’s book.

Please note: the prize draw is now closed.


This month the Silver Travel Book Club – proudly sponsored by Viking – is reading The Earl and the Pharaoh: From the Real Downton Abbey to the Discovery of Tutankhamun by The Countess of Carnarvon.

One hundred years ago, Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter. Discover their world of ancient secrets and priceless treasure in this revelatory new biography.

Between November 1922 and spring 1923, a door to the ancient Egyptian world was opened. The discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun would be the most astonishing archaeological find of the century. Two men were ultimately responsible for the discovery: Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter.

The Earl and the Pharaoh tells the story of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. Carnarvon’s life, money and sudden death became front-page news throughout the world following the discovery of the tomb, fuelling rumours that persist today of ‘the curse of the pharaohs.

His beloved home, Highclere Castle, is today best-known as the set of Downton Abbey. Drawing on Highclere Castle’s never-before-plumbed archives, bestselling author Fiona, the Countess of Carnarvon, charts the twists of luck and tragedies that shaped Carnarvon’s life; his restless and enquiring mind that drove him to travel to escape conventional society life in Edwardian Britain.


Viking River Cruises – Pharaohs and Pyramids

One of history’s greatest civilizations emerged along the banks of the Nile. Discover its secrets with Viking as expert Egyptologists take you from the pyramids of Cairo and the temples of Luxor to the desert outpost of Aswan and beyond. Uncover the ancient secrets of Egypt amid the welcoming culture of today. See the pyramids from astride a majestic camel. Explore the Temple of Karnak’s 136 soaring pillars. Visit Queen Nefertari’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings. Skim the waters of the Nile by traditional felucca. Enjoy the fragrances of Aswan’s spice market. Join Viking’s expert Egyptologists on a 12-day cruise tour through Egypt on board Viking’s modern Nile ships.

Specifically built to navigate the Nile River, the ships have been designed to international standards of comfort and elegance. With French balconies, hotel-style beds in every spacious stateroom and public areas bathed in light, these new vessels are the most sophisticated river ships sailing the region. In August 2022, on the banks of the Nile, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon named Viking’s newest ship, Viking Osiris. Only miles away in the fabled Valley of the Kings, Howard Carter, with the Earl’s great-grandfather, discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun, one hundred years ago this year.


How to win a copy of The Earl and the Pharaoh: From the Real Downton Abbey to the Discovery of Tutankhamun by The Countess of Carnarvon


A cruise along the Nile, entering the land of the pharaohs, is one of the world’s great river cruises.

Comment below to tell us about a river cruise you have enjoyed or would like to take and what made or would make it special.

The best comment will win a copy of this book.

A winner will be chosen in early November 2022.
The competition closes on 31 October 2022.

Read more about all of our Silver Travel Book Club reads.

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60 Responses

  1. I hope one day to visit Egypt and the Nile together with the Cairo museum as it’s something I have longed to do. I love archaeology

  2. We did a Nile cruise for our 25th
    wedding anniversary which was amazing taking in the culture around us & visiting Abu sinball.
    Wound lice to do a river cruise & don’t mind where I go because I have never been on one before

    Fingers crossed

  3. I was fortunate enough to be able to go on a River Nile Cruise about 10 years ago and it was really enjoyable with so much history to see on a daily basis. But the think that made it all the more special for me was that it was the last holiday that we went on as a family.

  4. A pharaohs and pyramids cruise would be amazing as it was always my late partner’s dream but we never achieved it unfortunately!

  5. I have been to the pyramids and museum in Ciro but would love to cruise the Nile and be able to see valley of the kings Aswan and Luxor .

  6. I would love to take my wife on a river cruise as she would to sample the delights of seeing different places and also she doesn’t do boats or sea journeys
    Thank-you,as she would love to read the book

  7. Many years ago we enjoyed a Nile cruise. I’d love to go again but starting in Cairo with a much awaited visit to the Grand Egyptian Museum at Giza. Top of my bucket list!

  8. Having learnt a fair amount about the ancient Egyptians, I have always wanted to take a Nile cruise. To see places for myself would be a true delight. Thank you

  9. We took a river cruise down the Douro river in Portugal which has remained our favourite. As the river is quite small the boat only travels at night so you moor in a different place most nights. The cities and towns are fascinating in their own right but there was also a wide variety of excursions at different times of the day so it wasn’t a crack of dawn breakfast every day like we have experienced on some other cruises. There was also a number of local singers, musicians and artisans invited on board to give you an additional taste of what Portugal has to offer.

  10. Would be a dream come true to go on such an adventure. My mother visited 10 years ago and loved it – my turn now!!

  11. The first time I sailed the Nile was just after the Hapshetsut terrorist attack and the Nile was very quiet. What joy on the morning after arriving at Kom Ombo, I drew back my cabin curtains to find my view was the temple itself! That trip was so special as on visiting the tomb of Tutankhamun I found myself alone with no other tourists to jostle with and only the guardian for company.

  12. I would love to cruise the Rhine. I have travelled down the banks in a train, but I really want to get right in there and experience the river atmosphere.

  13. River cruises are amazing and a great way to see some fantastic places. Whether it’s cruising down the Rhine, the Douro or the the Nile or dozens of other fascinating rivers, travellers can immerse themselves in the local culture and meet some very interesting people.
    The cruise ships are, without fail, very comfortable, not too crowded and most will dock right in a city centre.

  14. Cruise up the beautiful River Douro. The scenery is really beautiful with lots of high hills and, at times, narrow gorges

  15. I have been on a cruise but never a River Cruise. I’d like to go on a Mississippi River cruise, along as much of it’s vast length as possible.

  16. I would love to do a Nile river cruise with my husband and have the opportunity to explore the fine Egyptian history, scenery and antiquities

  17. My husband and I went to China a few years ago to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. As part of that special holiday we did a 3 night cruise on the Yangtse river. We had not done a river cruise before and we enjoyed it very much. It was very relaxing and we were looked after very well. We visited some interesting places as part of the cruise. We would like to do a longer river cruise one day and going on the Nile would be one of our choices.

  18. We did a visit to Egypt many years ago which included several nights in Cairo experiencing the sights and sounds of the city plus different museums and their illustrious artifacts. A highlight was opening our hotel curtains to look out onto the pyramids – wonderful and a real sight to behold. This was followed by a seven night cruise out of Luxor to visit the many sites along the Nile. The great part was the hospitality of the Egyptian people and especially our two tour guides whose knowledge and little tips to get us in to the different sites was second to none.
    Overall a great couple weeks which really opened our eyes to what the Egyptian people achieved all those year ago

  19. We went to China one year before COVID. So lucky were we. With Viking we were looked after from start to finish. The Yangtze cruise as part of the trip was really special with stunning scenery and memorable moments. We would love to go on a Nile cruise. To see the pyramids would be truly amazing.

  20. I love Nile Cruises – the glorious weather, the amazing food, the sights and sounds. Not to mention all those temples and ruins to marvel at. I am lucky enough to have sailed down the Nile on the Misr paddle steamer – it had single cabins on the main deck! There is nothing like waking up in the morning and opening your French doors and standing out on your own balcony! Sheer bliss! I am hoping to go again (and possibly again) as it is just magical, standing on the deck watching all the sights go past – much better than coach or train travel. The people are very welcoming – what is not to enjoy?

  21. not had a River cruise before, but I have cruised the Norwegian fiords. That was fantastic, the views, the cruise, so relaxing. I loved it. I would love to just cruise forever.

  22. I would love to take a cruise with my partner on a small and intimate vessel such as those offered by Viking, by day we would feel like explorers visiting the historical sites and then we would relax on board watching the scenery float past. I would feel like I was in an episode of Poirot, though hopefully there won’t be any deaths on board.

  23. We have completed many ocean cruise and love the idea of gliding down the River Danube. Viewing forests, castles and fabulous cities to visit as well.

  24. My favourite river cruise was on the French Canal Boat Company’s 98-year-old restored Dutch barge, Nymphea. Along with only four others, we journeyed slowly along the River Cher, a tributary of the Loire: the only barge able to navigate the shallow waters. Excursions took us to chateau along the way where we marvelled at the fabulous buildings and indulged in tastings. Each ended with us choosing our favourites which were later served on board at lunch and dinner. Over a week, we were never served the same wine twice. The same applied to the 24 local Loire cheeses we sampled. It was a veritable floating cheese and wine party.

  25. I love cruises…the Med and the Carribean, but I’ve never tried a river cruise. Cruising the Nile, while our daughter is teaching in Cairo, would be a once in a lifetime experience!

  26. I am fortunate to have cruised along the Mekong, the Danube and twice on the Nile. On one of the Nile cruises I took a hot air balloon trip which started with coffee and chocolate croissants before dawn next to the Colossi of Memnon, drifted over the Nile and rooftops, and ended with a champagne breakfast outside Howard Carter’s house. A truly magical experience.

  27. We have always been interested in Egyptian history and would one day love to cruise the Nile and see the places we have read and watched on TV. So the book would add to our knowledge.

  28. At school I thought ancient was boring, a Nile cruise some 10 years ago brought the whole subject alive

  29. Cruising the River Nile was the best cultural holiday ever.
    So much history, made easier by cruising with an experienced Eygptologist.

  30. Only been lucky enough to do sea cruises so far. I’ve heard such beautiful things about the Duoro that I think I’d choose that as my river cruise.

  31. The most spectacular river cruise is along the Rhine in Germany, past 40 castles, to the right and the left, perched high above you, towering into the sky with turrets and walls – now luxurious hotels, or museums there is plenty to look at and enjoy. When we cruised along in June, we could sit out on the top deck, and leisurely move our head to take in the sights whilst relaxing and listening to the commentary!

  32. I’ve never been on a river cruise but would love to.
    It seems to me that you get the luxury feeling of being on a cruise but with a feeling of it being more intimate, and of course having great views and somewhere new to step into each morning.
    I’d be happy to take a river cruise anywhere in the world, and I think, once I’d had one, I’d be wanting to go on more!

  33. I would love to travel along the Nile on a cruise for our 53rd Wedding Anniversary.Just thinking of what could be buried in the river sets my mind thinking.Seeing all the wondrous scenery and history combined with a culture mystery of thousands of years u folding before my very eyes…it would be a Pharaoh’d trip of a lifetime.

  34. The Gironde and Garrone would suit me fine as I’ve never been to that part of France; seeing Bordeaux and sampling fine wines would make it extra special.

  35. I would love to try a river cruise as I have never done one. I would perhaps start by cruising the Rhone or Danube but would love to cruise The Nile one day

  36. Like many of you, I too have taken a Nile Cruise – it really is one of those bucket list river cruises you definitely need to do. Every day, another ancient wonder and of course the weather is more or less quaranteed ! Another memorable river cruise I enjoyed was from Moscow to St Petersburg and I hope that one day this itinerary will be back. The river cruise I’d really like to do is Viking’s 15 day Grand European Tour, taking in the Danuble, Main and Rhine Rivers or along with Mississippi with all that history, culture and of course music.

  37. I was fortunate enough to enjoy a Nile cruise just before COVID. I was a solo traveller and met other solo travellers who were all fascinated by the Nile.
    I was a newly-retired teacher, who always looked forward to sharing the knowledge (alas, not first-hand) with junior schoolchildren. I told them that one day, once I retired, I would be travelling there.
    Their enthusiasm for dissecting body parts into canopic jars (online!) and being fascinated by the pyramids, Tutankhamen and hidden treasures led to some exciting history sessions!
    When I eventually arrived in Egypt, I felt that my dream had come true. A lifetime’s quest, and the treasures were within reach!

  38. The only cruise I have ever been lucky enough to do was on a Chinese boat along the Yangtze River with my daughter. I wanted to see the gorges before the dam was completed and the river changed forever. It was also to follow in my father’s ‘footsteps ‘ . He was a young Royal Navy sailor on a gunboat in 1939 sailing the Yangtze. We grew up with his stories beginning:- In 1939 when I was up the Yangtze….. He later sailed the Nile doing mine clearance. It would be wonderful to follow his journey there.

  39. I did the Nile cruise back in the 90’s with my husband who has now sadly passed away, we said we would always go back to Egypt to relive those special memories of the world’s most ancient Pharaoh’s, the stunning Nile river and the amazing culture Egypt has to offer.
    Still hoping to visit once again to make more memories of Egypt’s wonderful beauty ans splender.

  40. Some years ago my partner and I did a Nile cruise,our first and most memorable river cruise ever.The scenery along the river bank was ever changing and it was as though we had been taken back to the days when the Bible was written.It was SO amazing that you really didn’t want to miss anything especially as the river cruise ship moved on over night ,so it was tempting to make the very most of it and remain awake as long as possible into the small hours enjoying a constant and changing view of life on the river….and not wanting to miss a single thing.It is incredible to think that the view of those Egyptians going about their lives by the river Nile hasn’t changed since the beginning of time.We would love to return but poor health prevents that..however we count ourselves so lucky to have such wonderful memories.Reading a copy of the book would be magical as we are now arm chair travellers.

  41. A Nile cruise with its ever changing scenery of Egyptian life on the banks of the river will remain with me forever…it was like a moving version of scenes from the Bible…life unchanged for centuries.A copy of the book would be a wonderful opportunity to relive those memories.

  42. I’d like to cruise down the Zambezi river – watching the wildlife on the banks, drinks at sunset… a dream!

  43. The river Nile has always held a fascination for people and for me, it is the only river cruise I have been on – unless you count a 50 minute sightseeing cruise on the River Mersey.

    We were fortunate enough to be staying with friends in Cairo so we took the five day cruise from Luxor to Aswan. We had already been to the pyramids at Giza, visited the museum in Cairo and seen the many wonderful artifacts associated to the Pharaohs and Egyptology but were very excited to be able to visit the Valley of the Kings and enter King Tutankhamen’s tomb. What an experience! Awesome to be walking in the footsteps of Carter who must have held his breath as he first entered the tomb.

    He said ‘…We were astonished by the beauty and refinement of the art displayed by the objects surpassing all we could have imagined – the impression was overwhelming…’. I definitely agree with that statement despite the artefacts not being housed there, the walls to the chamber were superb.

    However, the highlight of the cruise for me was a visit to see the mortuary temple of Queen Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri and this stands out as one of the most memorable days of our five day river cruise. A much overlooked female Pharaoh and a true innovator of her time as she oversaw a period of peace and prosperity and re-established trade relations.

    Sadly, the cruise was not entirely trouble free as we all developed the ‘pharaoh’s revenge’ on our return to Cairo…. Was it worth it? Definitely! A brilliant experience.(the cruise not the stomach upset!)

  44. In 2019, my wife and I did a river cruise from Kyiv in Ukraine, down the River Dnipro, to the Black Sea. It was a joyous trip and we were welcomed warmly by the Ukrainians at every stop. Kyiv is such a beautiful city, and we thoroughly enjoyed the changing landscape and places we visited on the trip. We finished the cruise in the beautiful city of Odessa, a real gem of a city. It is so heartbreaking to see so many of the places we visited on the news now, as they are now in a war zone, but it is no surprise to us that Ukrainians are fighting so valiantly to protect their country. We were in Odessa for the Ukrainian Independence Day whilst on the trip, and it was a fabulous, happy day, shared with people who were obviously very proud of their country. Hopefully, one day we can do that wonderful trip again.

  45. My Husband has always wanted to visit Egypt, one of his hobbies is Egyptology. So to win this prize would be my best gift to him.

  46. I have been fascinated by Egypt for 50 years, and have visited many times, always as a solo traveller., apart from the time I took my daughter to Cairo and Luxor while she was still capable of travel, before she died of MS in 2018. It was her dream to see the pyramids, and king Tut’s tomb.
    Most of the older relatives of families I met, who invited me to their homes, did not speak English, so I learned basic Arabic to show my appreciation of their hospitality, which included an engagement party, a lavish wedding and a party in a village near Giza to celebrate the circumcision of several baby boys: the whole village square was covered in carpets, on which the men danced while we women sat round and enjoyed refreshments.
    I have seen most of the great sites and sights from Alexandria to Abu Simbel, but never been on a Nile cruise. Two friends and I at last booked a luxury cruise with Saga but our excitement was dashed when it was cancelled due to Covid. I would love go now, and see the the temples along the river, Abydos and Dendera especially which featured on TV this week in Bettany Hughes journey down the Nile.

  47. As river cruising is gaining so much momentum in recent years, it’ll be intriguing to cruise in the Mekong river as well as the river Nile. For Mekong, I’d love to encounter a diversity of fish species and for Nile, I want to feel the Bible story about the river come alive and beyond imagination.

  48. I’ve been on one river cruise – 10 minutes across the Mersey – and I was seasick. So the best river cruise for me would definitely be by car.

  49. A sedate cruise along the Nile would be a surreal experience, from ancient to modern with the twist of the river. I would love to go.

  50. Dance like an Egyptian ! Like others, I would love to experience the Nile and visit the pyramids and experience the flavour, sounds and sights of Egypt. Having just seen photo’s that family took on a Nile cruise last month, it has whetted my appetite .
    Reading this book would fuel my passion to go!

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